• andrew

Evolution of a success

Fred wandered into our virtual meeting room late March with the gravity of coronavirus and the impact of lockdown becoming grimly clear, particularly on those of us who like to stretch our legs. “I have an idea to help people through lockdown” teased our ruminating colleague, “why don’t we host an adventure film festival, and raise some cash for charity?”.

Our team is generally open to a bit of blue sky thinking but it normally rotates around existing frames of reference that involve mountains, oceans, bikes and spikes.

This suggestion sounded a rather more daunting prospect.

Films, festivals and entertaining people? My immediate thought was that time (or the lack of) would swiftly park this latest Freddie lightbulb moment … lockdown would likely be over by the time we could host any such event. “When?” “In 3-4 weeks” shot back the reply. So dear reader, we decided to set sail at breakneck speed towards an idea we had limited understanding about hosting nor indeed what it might look, feel or taste like. What quality of film was out there? Who would be prepared to volunteer their films to our fledgling outfit? How would we host it? What would be the format? Which charity? But something quickly emerged from this process that I'd always suspected but saw now with more immediate clarity, that working in a space populated by adventurous “can do” types of people, makes tough challenges eminently more achievable. Sleeves were rolled up, targets made, tasks set out and the 29th April 2020 cemented into our diaries for us to host the1st ever Wildbase Adventure Film Festival.

That it was huge fun and a great success was based around the following key factors ...

Films - a fabulous collection of films emerged through personal contacts, social media and online requests. We had no particular number in mind but very quickly the schedule took shape with 9 films making the cut and slotting into what we felt was a manageable timeline; Film Makers - wonderful bunch of people who couldn’t have been more supportive, whether first timers or experienced, whether they’d already shown the films on a big or small or no stage at all;

Format - probably the bit we were most comfortable with. We’ve organised decent events in the past and felt confident that if the films and the tech and the marketing worked out, we could gather those component parts together at a particular time and place to deliver a half decent show …

Team - Freddie had to take the lead on this, so Luke and I slotted into his jetstream and with the help of supportive partners and sponsors we cobbled together a team of complete novices to encapsulate the phrase … “greater than the sum of their parts”

Charity - we wanted to provide an immediate impact to the challenges going on around us. Of course the NHS is at the forefront of our minds but we decided to go into the heart of where the economic impact is likely to hit hardest and that’s food poverty.

The Trussell Trust was quickly our charity of choice. Technology - whilst we’re all a bit zoomed out by now, what a piece of kit they provide and it’s just so robust bearing in mind the current demands. They’ve grown from 40m to 200m users in just one month and yet it remains stable enough for an event of this nature and more. Amazing really and was a perfect fit for what we needed. Well done Team Zoom!

Attendees - we set out with a modest target of 100 and sales were initially quite slow. But momentum started to build as some of those ‘early adopters’ started inviting friends. By the last 24 hours we were messaging each other with excited anticipation as the numbers rose above 200 and ended up at 234. Totally happy with that.

Judges - Fiona Quinn and Alex Staniforth were awesome. They brought adventure gravitas to the event, providing astute, personal observations, signed copies of their books and a Q&A with limited notice that helped us negotiate the only technical challenge of the evening, right at the end with the polling. Thank you both.

Entertainment - the big question, could we deliver and make it fun? Could we glue all of this together and be engaging enough to keep the majority of those 234 people with us for what turned into a 2.5 hour show. Freddie, ever the inspiration with this project, made the wonderful suggestion of presenters attending in dinner jackets, something commented on by more than one attendee as lifting the splendour of the occasion. [Wait until the conclusion of this article for the ugly truth] We wrote and fine tuned a loose script settling on what we hoped was the right balance between serious, informative and fun.

Audience - But as you all know when presenting, it’s not until you get in front of an audience that you get into the rhythm of who they are and how they're reacting. Our audience on the night were magnificent. Supportive, enthusiastic, patient, inquisitive. We had initially thought about blocking the live chat/Q&A function for fear of any negative responses about the event, the films, life in general. But we were guilty in that thinking process of assuming that the bitterness and rancour we see across most social media discourse, would migrate into our exclusive gathering. Thank goodness we neglected that negative instinct because the live chat became an integral part of the event and included so much engagement that to have ruled it out would have been to suck an important element of energy away from the festival.

Adventurous Poses … all of this engagement was exemplified in the magnificently adventurous poses sent into the @wild.base instagram account and which our Luke, had the impossible task of selecting winners from. Within such a tight schedule of films and interviews and hilarious presenter links (sic), we’re not entirely sure how you found time to set up those poses but please, if you haven’t done so already, head across to our instagram account and enjoy some of the spontaneous creativity that went on last Wednesday evening.

. Films … but I’m finishing where I started, and the films. They made the evening, everything else was fluff alongside. They were magnificent, varied, inspiring, hot, cold, intrepid, poetic. They suited our event like a hand to a glove. We couldn’t have asked for a better selection of films nor a more encouraging bunch of film makers. The bar has been set high for the next event … oh yes, there will be another. For the record - Winners of the 1st WildBase Adventure Film Festival Best overall: My Big White Thighs - Hannah Maia Best visuals: The Postman - Sam Needham Best story: My Big White Thighs - Hannah Maia

What’s Next? The 2nd WildBase Adventure Film Festival : Saturday 27th February 2021 We’ve given ourselves rather longer to prepare for the 2nd event so please, if you know of and/or watch any films you think might be appropriate, please get in touch.

The WildBase Adventure Zoomcast : Starting This Month We plan to launch a live monthly zoomcast that will involve the Wildbase team, special guests, news and views from the adventure world, some surprises and our wonderful community on the zoom chat … see how quickly we’ve become comfortable with that engagement thingy? More details out soon so watch this space. A final thank you to everyone involved … I’ve hopefully captured you within the categories above. It was huge fun and we hope to see you at one of our future events. Stay safe, at least until your next adventure. Andrew Weaver Aka Freddie Newton's Sidekick

Image Below: The awful truth, behind the dinner jacket facade ...


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