Franny & Lizzie's SWOTS film school returns on 12/13 November 28/9/2011

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Hello hello,

As Lizzie and I don't seem to be launching ourselves into making another film any time soon, we thought the least we could do is pass on everything we've learned to other, less tired, people. Please forward this email to your wannabe filmmaker friends.

Spanner Films invites you to come and sit in a warm comfy room in London on the 12th and 13th of November to be handed all the knowledge we've amassed over sixteen bruising years making and distributing our blockbuster documentaries in some of the world's most difficult places (including Nigeria, Iraq and Bedford). Our pioneering methods have been called "the future of film, film culture and film distribution and marketing" and include inventing the now ubiquitous crowd-funding financing model, launching the revolutionary Indie Screenings distribution system and premiering Age of Stupid via a Guinness World Record-beating, solar-powered, satellite-linked cinema tent in London's Leicester Square (making it a bigger premiere than Star Wars, wahey).

The two-day lecture course covers absolutely every stage of the filmmaking process from deciding on the idea to fundraising, pre-production, filming, editing, orchestra recording, distribution, gratuitous self-publicising, website-making, cinema-releasing, TV-selling and social action campaign-launching. Spanner's Franny Armstrong and Lizzie Gillett will be leading the course, with a guest session from Britdoc's Jess Search. There will also be the opportunity to pitch your film ideas to top distributor Oli Harbottle from Dogwoof. All SWOTS attendees will receive a DVD of legal and fundraising documents, a full equipment list, an Age of Stupid DVD and a cup of tea.

Here's what some previous SWOTS alumni had to say: "Bloody brilliant. You are an extremely inspiring team and I am impressed at how generously you have given information. I am inspired to make my documentary on my own terms" - Taina G, SWOTS class of '05 - "Fantastic! This was exactly what I was looking for. Amazingly almost all of my questions have been addressed, answered, hinted at. I loved the format - bite-size, manageable chunks- and the relaxed, laid-back attitude of all involved" - Sally C, SWOTS class of '05 - "I liked the balance between the actual filming and all the preparation / legalities / paperwork. Fascinating to see all that goes on behind the filming. Very encouraging & inspiring" - Deborah C, SWOTS class of '03 - "Wonderful! Really glad I came! Inspirational and encouraging - very confidence building" - Adela P, SWOTS class of '05.

-> Info, registration and booking:

Sticking with the educational theme, 10:10 launched its brilliantly innovative Solar Schools pilot project last week. The idea is that schools use our shiny website to raise money from their local community to install solar panels on their roofs. Obviously they then get free, low-carbon energy, which is splendid, but - and here's the cunning bit - they also then get an additional income stream from all the energy they generate for the next 25 years via the Government's feed-in tariff scheme, to spend on books or equipment or trips or whatever they need. If we can prove that the model is viable for the eleven schools taking part in the pilot, we'll then roll it out next year to 1,000 schools across the country. Please help kick off the scholastic energy revolution by buying some 5 quid chunks of solar panels for the pilot schools, even though your kids almost certainly don't go to those schools. (If they do, I hope you already have.)

Speaking of highly inspiring carbon-cutting initiatives, if anyone's bored in London on the 10th of October (or 10/10 as we like to call it), please come and join myself and the 10:10 crew at the Guardian offices in Kings Cross for our Pitch, Pledge, Party. The idea is that we all eat, drink and make merry whilst hearing about three new projects which need cash. Tickets cost £10.10 (of course) to cover your food and drink - there's no obligation to sponsor one of the projects, but they're so damn cool, I suspect you might decide to. This is them:
-> Remade in Edinburgh plans to set up a repair and reuse centre in Edinburgh, reviving lost repair skills and offering a counterweight to the throwaway culture that's responsible for millions of tonnes of extra CO2 each year.
-> Energise Barnet runs a one-stop shop for local advice, resources and discounts on home energy saving measures, and are planning to train up a team of advocates to spread the word and help Barnet residents make the most of it.
-> The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare wants to help NHS organisations upgrade kidney dialysis machines to make them 20% more energy efficient. The goal is to retrofit 1,000 machines in kidney care units UK-wide.

In other news, a massive cheer goes to the ever-brilliant for organising last Saturday's Moving Planet - "a worldwide day to move beyond fossil fuels" - which saw more than 2,000 low-carbon events kicking up a storm in 175 countries. Check out their amazing pictures at:

We lost a hero this week, as Wangari Maathai died of cancer aged 71. Her achievements are humbling: the first African woman to win the Nobel peace prize, the first to gain a PhD and the first to become a professor - not to mention the mobilising of hundreds of thousands of people who together planted more than 47 million trees. There's a full obituary and tribute here. My favourite (accidental) epitaph comes from her businessman husband, who divorced her in 1980, saying that she was "too educated, too strong, too successful, too stubborn and too hard to control".

Looking forward to seeing some of you at SWOTS,