New Year's resolution #1: make an indie documentary 3/1/2012

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Hello and happy 2012,

New Year's resolution #1: make indie documentary
After the rip-roaring success of our SWOTS course in November last year - see pictures and absurdly over-the-top feedback here ("The Earth didn't stop moving") - we're running it again in TWO WEEKS TIME, on January 14th and 15th, in the 10:10 office in Camden, North London. Apologies for the rubbish notice, but it turned out that is the only weekend Lizzie and I can both do before she goes on holiday to New Zealand and then I, er, have a baby. We'd be very grateful if you could forward the blarb below to anyone you know who might like to learn how to make indie documentaries.


Spanner Films invites you to come and sit in a warm comfy room in Camden, North London on the 14th and 15th of January 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 guest session from Britdoc's Jess Search and Sheffield Doc/Fest's Charlie Phillips. 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.

Feedback from SWOTS 2011: "The best 400 quid I've ever spent" - "A real privilege to spend two days picking your brains" - "Stunning overview - the Earth didn't stop moving" - "A resource you'd not be able to find on the net or read in a book" - "Like an indie doc massage - getting into all the knots and tensions" - "Amazing!!! I am leaving today totally satisfied. It's the most knowledgeable weekend I have ever had in this field"

-> Info, registration and booking:
-> Any questions? Email

New Year's Resolution #2: Get rich (choose between this or #1, both not possible)
Lizzie and I are just waiting on reports to come in from the last two Age of Stupid distributors and then we will be able to let all our crowd-funders know how much their share of this year's pot is - hopefully within the next two weeks. With a bit of luck and a fair wind, we'll then make your payments before February. But please don't get over-excited as the total this time is much less than for the first two years - unsurprisingly, as the film has now been out quite a while.

New Year's Resolution #3: Get new job
There's six - six! - tasty jobs going at 10:10, including Community Engagement Manager, Graphic Designer, Fundraising Intern and three Web Developers. It's all going rather well with our carbon-cuttings friends: if 10:10 had printed their annual report for 2011 the paper used would have been the height of a giraffe - so instead they made this
rather pretty website explaining what's been achieved in the last 12 months. It's worth a quick mosey if you're feeling depressed at the lack of climate action going on.

New Year's Resolution #4: Get CBE
The charming Fred Mulder from The Funding Network I was mentioning in the last message has only gone and won one of the Queen's shiniest badges for "services to philanthropy" in this year's Honours List. And he was on telly the other day explaining how good it feels giving away his cash. Hurray for Fred.

New Year's Resolution #5: Save world via medium of film
Thank you so much to everyone who sent in ideas for our new film - we received about 40 good 'uns. But I should really have explained the project in a little more detail, as some people spent a lot of time writing up ideas which wouldn't fit into our format - many apologies for that oversight. Basically, we're looking for ideas for single policies which the UK Government could potentially introduce (but in reality never would cos all the ones we will choose to feature will no doubt be too radical). For example: banning advertising, introducing a maximum wage, closing all factory farms, legalising all drugs, banning tax havens, paying parents to bring up children or
introducing carbon rationing
. Any other corkers? Any health/medical ideas or women's issues? War and conflict? Immigration? Please send any thoughts to me on or just hit reply to this message. Thanks again - your help is very much appreciated. Oh, and I've got to get the proposal off by this Thurs, so speedy replies would be even more appreciated.

New Year's Resolution #6: Get that darn windfarm built
Piers Guy - the windfarm developer in Age of Stupid - got in touch the other day to say that the Airfield Farm project featured in the film is going back to Public Inquiry. He says "W
e challenged the inspector's decision to refuse the project after the last Inquiry and the planning inspectorate agreed with us, so the whole process had to start over again. Luckily I only have a distant over-sight role now on the project, otherwise I think I would have completely lost my mind." I'll let you know what happens.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of the wonderful Pete Postlethwaite. If anybody missed the BBC's extremely touching tribute documentary, you can watch it online here. How lucky we are to have known him.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year,

Twitter: @frannyarmstrong