Film Blog: Lessons Learnt During Preview Season

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I’m coming to the end of a fun and varied series of preview screenings of Janapar, which culminated last weekend with a one-off movie night in London for followers of this blog.

The event was a huge amount of fun, and the film went down better than James & I could ever have hoped for. Thanks to everyone who came along. You really made the night! (And my very real apologies to those I didn’t get time to speak to properly afterwards!)

Happy people

For those who couldn’t come along, you might get a taste of things from this experimental Storify version of events.

What’s next?

The final screening in this little preview run will be taking place in Dublin on the 1st of July. (Get in touch for free seats.)

After that, I’m heading to Armenia once again for the rest of July in order to finish work on the book. It’s been 15 months since I began writing and I’m really happy with the direction that the story is taking.

However, I feel a pressing need to get it done and put it out there. At the beginning of this year I made a resolution for my adventuring and creative passions to be generating the majority of my (very modest) income by the end of 2012. So it’s time to knuckle down! Skipping the continent for a while seems like a good idea (plus a good opportunity to conduct an extensive survey of Yerevan’s coffee shops). The blog will continue, but probably on a more practical/reflective tip than recently.

Getting back into writing mode will be a welcome break from having the film dominate my thoughts. But I’ve learnt an awful lot from these screenings. The film continues to get an almost unanimously positive reception from widely varied audiences. Importantly, this includes a large proportion of non-cyclists and non-adventurers. We set out to create something that would resonate broadly, and it looks like we’ve succeeded in that.

Overcoming fears

I’ve come a long way towards conquering a long-standing fear of public speaking. Q&A sessions which I’ve forced myself to do in front of increasingly large audiences have been a gentle way in, and while I’m not yet doing self-contained ‘talks’, I felt perfectly happy chatting in front of a hundred people last weekend (other ‘adventurers’ may scoff!). It was the first time I’d ever successfully and comfortably done such a thing. I even found myself enjoying it!

This is a really big personal milestone. I can identify two big lessons here: first, that simple practice has been hugely effective, even if I barely stumbled through the first couple of sessions; and second, that holding your own in front of an audience completely depends on knowing your subject inside out — which I now feel that I do.

(This seems to be a circular process, because the more time you spend talking or answering questions about a topic, the more deeply and thoroughly you end up having considered it, and so the more of an expert you become. Or, at least, sound!)

On personal films

As I’ve said before, and as I’m hoping is obvious from the trailer, Janapar is incredibly (often uncomfortably) close to my heart. How could it not be?

I didn’t really foresee it like this, but these one-off screenings and Q&As in front of small audiences have just felt right, in a way that the idea of widespread distribution and national broadcast just doesn’t (at least, not at this stage).

It’d be a real dream to spend time travelling with the film, as much for the opportunity to travel to new places as to tell the story this way. So I’m planning to spend much of the autumn organising a run of events like this, first in the U.K. and — if all goes well — further afield as well.

Janapar: DVD and book release

At the same time as preparing to travel around with Janapar, James and I will be spending September onwards getting the DVD and book ready for a big launch towards the end of 2012. We’re still holding out our hopes for a couple of film festivals in the autumn, but we’ll premiere the film publicly at this time regardless of acceptance or rejection.

Apologies to those who are still waiting to see it — the whole project is a (very exciting) experiment, and we’re very much feeling our way through it.

Thanks again if you came along last weekend. It was the first time I’ve attempted to organise a meet-up of this blog’s community, and it was a real success!

Comments (skip to respond)

One response to “Film Blog: Lessons Learnt During Preview Season”

  1. I too find speaking to be a pleasure when I know my subject. I think it may be showing off (blush)
    Was there an age limit at the screening — suddenly I feel like I stumbled in on my kids party…
    Al (somewhere in Germany)

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