Video Jam are a really exciting film/music organisation based in Manchester. They produce unique, multi-platform events and commission artists working with sound to compose original scores for short film. Video Jam have been making a buzz around Manchester – they’ve been commissioned to work with many of the major institutions in the city. They work with live audio of all scales, disciplines and cultures – from solo artists to full orchestras; pop bands to improvised jazz; spoken word to sound designs.
We can’t wait to welcome them to Sing City this month for a series of workshops and a showcase performance. Over three weeks, young musicians and filmmakers will explore music and sound in film, composing original short scores to be performed at Sing City Live at the end of June. Find out more…
Here, Video Jam share their top tips for making it happen in music and film…
1) Be as resourceful as you possibly can. We had no budget when we started Video Jam. We asked for £2 on the door. We used the printers at our university to print programmes, we stuck flyers and posters in cafes, student unions and shops. Our first events were at Antwerp Mansion. We wanted to create a sense of occasion, a special atmosphere so it didn’t feel like a typical film screening or a gig. We got tons of red fabric from a local textiles shop and made tablecloths and drapes. We used tealights, incense and fairylights and a bedsheet to make a projection screen! DIY works!
2) Learn as you go along – it’s all trial and error. We’re always still learning. After each event we do, we make sure we debrief with each other and our artists to make sure we keep on improving. We realised pretty quickly that we had to meet up regularly as the admin started to build. We use software such as Trello and Google Docs to keep organised and to make sure we know who in the team is working on what. It’s easy to get bogged down in admin so we’ve learnt that it’s really important to make time to be social with your colleagues and artists. The best ideas often come out of being silly and chilling out with each other.
3) Don’t be afraid to take risks – it’s good to go against the norm! We never choose the most ‘obvious’ pairing between a short film and a musician/sound artist, we always ask ourselves ‘what makes the most interesting pairing?’ We like to mix it up – working with musicians and films of different genres. We don’t fit into any ‘scene’ as we want to appeal to everyone which is why we try and make our events as accessible as possible. Anyone can enjoy our events as nearly everyone likes film and nearly everyone likes music! In our early days we learnt very quickly that it’s alright to fail and mess things up – it makes you learn faster and makes your events better.
4) Make the most of your local arts scene – find a gap and fill it! There’s always something wonderful going on in Manchester’s art scene – whether it’s experimental music at Islington Mill, a film screening at Gorilla, an exhibition in a new pop up space or a solo show at Contact. Make the most of it and talk about what you do to other people. You’ll be surprised as to what kind of collaborations can start out of simply having a conversation. Be clued up to what’s going on culturally. What’s missing? Find a gap and fill it.
5) Get to know your artists and audience. We’ve somehow managed to create a Video Jam community of artists, audience members, partners and collaborators. A key bit of advice is to get to know your artists on a personal level. Keep relationships going, keep each other informed on what you’re up to and how you can help each other out. Use social media to not just promote what you do but what your artists do. Your artists and your audience are your best critics. Listen to their advice and you’ll keep on improving. Our events always have beautiful programmes designed by our friends Textbook Studio and our illustrator Paul Hallows. We decided to collaborate with them because they quite frankly said our programmes were naff and they wanted to make them better!