|When I amved at St Andrew's
Church hall in Caversham, where the Reading Film and Video Makers
(RFVM) meet regularly, the premises were locked and I could here
muffled voices emerging from within. Upon admission, I was ushered
into a darkened room where it seemed a predominantly male group
were watching a motion picture that featured a lot of women in bikinis.
Quite a few shapely bottoms later, the movie finished and the lights
went on to reveal something actually quite innocent. Around 35 film
enthusiasts were judging a selection of DV videos in the annual
RFVM Cume Awards.
This particular film, of Miami Beach
bums, curiously titled Copthorne Hotel was among 12 entries that
included subjects as diverse as a steam train ride, a wedding, autumn
leaves and the aftermath of a lorry crash. The rules stated that
each submission must be only four minutes long.
Neil Hodgson, RFVM committee member, and one of two judges for the
competition, explained that the club hold several competitions throughout
the year. These cover different categones, from holiday footage
to documentary, fiction and a one-minute challenge.
"Films are judged on different criteria," he said. "Sometimes
they're selected for their innovation, if they're pushing the
"We have a novice night too, to encourage new members."
The annual Currie Award was named after RFVM
member Don Currie, who introduced the four-minute competition 20
Don submitted two entries to the competition this year, although
he stated quite modestly before the results
were announced, "I'm sure that I'm not going to win."
A keen film buff, Don has a cinema set up
| ice creams during interval!
The eventual third place Cume Cup winner, About Diabetes was perhaps
the most professional looking of the 12 screened on the competition
night. Beginning with a sophisticated graphic, it switched quite
suddenly to another rear view - that of a doctor, a moment of weak
editing perhaps - before continuing with a summary of how Type II
diabetes affected the sufferer.
The video, which wouldn't have looked out of place in an NHS training
workshop, included interviews with nursing staff. However when a
nurse began to jiggle a vial of 'sticky' diabetes affected blood
like a cocktail shaker, the blood drained from my own head and I
began to feel quite faint. I was relieved the documentary was only
four minutes long.
Second prize went to Silly Beggars footage of 'living statue'
buskers taken over several years in Palma, Bruges, Milan and Amsterdam
with a dry and hilarious narrative. It was clearly made as part
of a humorous holiday video.
The film that won the 2006 Currie Cup was titled Woodcote Road by
Laurie Joyce, who came upon a straw-laden lorry that had rolled
onto its side on a busy road in Reading. He incorporated imaginative
angles to cover the cleanup operation.
Not all of the RVFM dabble in filmmaking as a hobby. Chairman Geoff
Addis declared: "A number of our members are actually doing
it commercially. We've got a very wide membership, from kids just
out of school to an Oxford graduate. We very much welcome young
"A number of our members have won quite prestigious prizes
and international awards. Other clubs ask us to judge their ompetitions."
Alan Lott, at 83, the oldest member of RFVM, was one of the original
founders, establishing the club in his Caversham lounge in March
| year and got a bit
much for my house, so we moved to a room over
the Abbey Gateway, which was cold in winter and had a steep flight
of stairs to lug the projection equipment up.'We used to do a lot
of ordinary tape recording edited with standard 8 films."
Lott, who prefers working in 16mm film, only received his first
digital video camera last Christmas. He still occasionally contributes
material to the RFVM nights, and has the honour of a documentary
film he completed in 1963, of an archaeological dig at Cox Green
near Maidenhead, included in the National Film Archives.
The footage includes what he believes was the world's first aerial
survey of an archaeological site, a practice now commonly used prior
Phil Martin says some of the work he has undertaken includes a study
of the reintroduction of Red Kites to the Chilterns. This native
raptor was shot to extinction in England by farmers and was reintroduced
from Spain in 1990.
There are now more than 300 breeding pairs. He also made a quirky
documentary on the Maharajah's Well in Stoke Row, paid for by the
Maharajah of Benares in 1864.
The wealthy Indian funded the digging of the 368-foot deep well
after he heard about the plight of villagers whose water supply
had run dry. Now, in a twist of history, the video is being sold
by the charity Water Aid, and has raised more than £1,000
to fund clean water projects in India and Africa.
Reading Film and Video
Makers meet weekly, usually on Tuesday nights, from September
to May at St Andrew's Church hall in Caversham.
Events in the near future include a practical filming night,
Gear Trophy documentary competition and the art of animation.
For further information,
call 0118 986 6142 or visit www.readingfilmandvideomakers.