Birds Eye View 3: November 2003
(quick prelude – forgot to pop in this piece of press Pin and I got in Brighton for that March 2003 – can’t resist it going in now! Think I look a bit tipsy there…)
Right. On with the story…
Now flying solo, with desk space in the Brighton Media Centre and some part-time voluntary assistance from Alis Cox, I set to work organising a mahoosive UK tour. I selected the programme (with huge amounts of help from the lovely Katie Reid) ages in advance, so I had time to do some PR (without knowing the first thing about PR) and got coverage in Elle, Harpers and Queen, i-D, Dazed, Guardian Guide and Time Out.
The tour launched with a big event at the NFT (now BFI Southbank), and then spun off around 9 other UK cities: Oxford (Phoenix), Coventry (Warwick Arts Centre), Birmingham (Midlands Arts Centre), Manchester (Cornerhouse), Lancaster (The Dukes), Newcastle (Tyneside), Bristol (Watershed), Cardiff (Chapter Arts Centre) and back to Brighton (Duke of York).
The NFT event was a huge moment for me – another sell-out, but a 450 seater this time. I nearly died when I called up two days before and heard all the tickets had gone. It was also the first time I genuinely enjoyed presenting the event, stopped shaking like a leaf and began to feel confident as I spoke. It’s also the first time I felt a proper connection to the industry. We had a reception before the screening for industry VIPs – again, none of whom I actually knew, I just researched and invited – and the likes of Sarah Radclyffe and Duncan Kenworthy joined a packed and buzzing party.
I’d also managed to bag Anthony Minghella, Joanna Lumley, Mike Figgis and Sarah Radclyffe as patrons – just by writing to them (and, ahem, about 50 other amazing famous types) out the blue & sending the films. It was a happy day when this hand-written note arrived in the post:
“This is a terrific initiative. The films are all fresh, unexpected, skilful, professional and make the viewer think and feel new things (a considerable achievement). If this is what being a bird is, I’m proud to be one.” – Joanna Lumley
The tour was fab. I just loved going round the country, connecting with audiences and filmmakers and getting amazing responses wherever we went. This programme of shorts will forever be one of my very favourite – it featured Magali Charrier and Maria Lloyd’s gorgeous Left or Right for Love?, Christin Cockerton’s hilarious Deep Down starring the wonderful Helen McCrory and Emily Woof‘s poignant Between the Wars. Not forgetting Sophie Williams’ I Expect Joan Feels The Same – a super low budget (£200?) short doc about grieving war widows that never failed to move me to tears (and still does). Watch it here:
In 2004 I moved to London, set Birds Eye View up as a registered charity, working closely with Jacqueline Wright for a few months, had the first of 2 major, horrible knee reconstructions, and planned the inaugural BEV film festival, most of the time with leg raised high in splint, from our tiny little office (think: broom cupboard) in Highbury. I guess not being able to move physically was a whole extra driver to get things moving professionally. Not sure it was best for my legs (!) but it sure was exhilarating for the mind & kept my vision focussed on things higher (and less painful) than my knees…