Visions of Yorkshire & Vilnius

YORKSHIRE STAGE OF VISIONS

This International cultural exchange focused on ten writer/director filmmakers from Yorkshire and Lithuania. The Visions project was built around screenings, educational training, industry awareness and networking with regional and international peers.

The project was made possible with financial support of Screen Yorkshire (and their funding partners), The British Council Lithuania and The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture.

The Lithuanian Studio Artbox and Yorkshire’s Duchy Parade Films, devised, organised and ran the Visions programme.

01 Who'sthat02 trakai 2

Timeline: In March 2005, five Lithuanian writer/directors spent eight days in Yorkshire as part of Visions of Vilnius, the first part in a two-stage exchange programme targeted at intermediate filmmakers. [link to Lithuanian Directors and films]
 

03 SY reception

The Yorkshire stage of Visions was kicked off with a Welcome Reception hosted by Screen Yorkshire in Leeds. In addition to the filmmakers, the Lithuanian Visions group included the Production Designer of a number of the films to be screened, the Director of Lithuania’s Media Desk and Valdas Navasaitis, Lithuanian Feature Director and guest of the Bradford Film Festival.

04 Bradford group

For the first part of their Yorkshire experience the group were based in Bradford. Around the screening of the Visions shorts, Bill Lawrence and the Festival Director Tony Earnshaw devised a
Lithuanian Showcase in the Festival’s programme at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television as part of their policy of bringing world cinema to Yorkshire. This programme of Lithuanian films was a first, not just in the UK but also outside of Lithuania. New Lithuanian cinema only came into being post-1991 after the country gained freedom from Soviet occupation.

The group were given an intensive industry overview and a tour of some of the region’s production facilities. Thanks to John Surtees, Director of Resources (North) for Granada/ITV, the Lithuanian directors joined by some of the Yorkshire Visions directors toured Film Lab North, Provision, Yorkshire Television Studios and Post-production Facilities.

05 film lab06 gear07  toys08 ProVision Tour

The tour was completed with a visit to Emmerdale and its purpose-built production location led by one of their 1st AD’s. This experience was a chance to learn about a British approach to set construction, lighting and shooting schedules. In the spirit of -‘it’s a small world’ - it also gave a number of the Lithuanians a chance to converse in Polish with a number of the Sparks employed on Emmerdale.

10  Bradford Opening Night - Mary & Kestas11  Bradford gala
The 11th Bradford Film Festival kicked off that evening with a gala reception, when the Lithuanian Ambassador and the Cultural Attaché, Indre Daunyte joined us. This was the first cultural event the Ambassador had been invited to attend in the UK outside of London.

The Visions group spent part of Saturday exploring the National Museum and Bradford, and attending a small reception hosted by the Lithuanian Ambassador at the National Museum. Before the screening of the first Lithuanian Feature he also introduced a short film on Lithuanian culture. Saturday evening the Lithuanians spent in the Spa town of Harrogate meeting a range of people from arts, media & culture and drinking a lot of wine!

Sunday was spent exploring parts of Yorkshire by train including the market town of Skipton. Sunday evening saw the first screening of the Visions showcase at the National Museum. A public Q&A with Kestas, the producer from Artbox Studio, and the other four Lithuanian directors followed this in a session led by Tony Earnshaw.

12  Bradford WS


A3 posters and A5 leaflets were produced in English and Lithuanian for use to promote the event in Yorkshire and Lithuania. In the run up to Bradford, the Visions showcase was featured in the Guardian’s Saturday weekend guide and was strongly promoted by the Festival.


Following a conversation at Screen Yorkshire’s reception the group’s day touring Yorkshire facilities was captured by the Yorkshire Evening Post.
 

Monday the group moved to York. York minster 14 front

A couple of the Directors and Kestas were interviewed on BBC Radio York for the afternoon show in advance of our screening in York.

18 City Screen

Another screening of the Visions showcase was organised on Tuesday daytime at City Screen Cinema in York by Olivia Gore, the cinema’s Communications Manager, including this time in the programme some short examples of Lithuanian animation.]
20 EGLE

A public Q&A followed the screenings, and the added chance to read questionnaires filled in by the audience on the Lithuanian films. The group then had a chance to explore stories (& pubs) of York in more detail.
20a talking movies York02
Wednesday, after finishing a tour of York, the group travelled to Whitby and Scarborough to get an idea of the Yorkshire coastline to complete their quick overview of the county. Departing early on the following morning for Vilnius.

VILNIUS STAGE OF VISIONS


21a flying

At the end of March five Yorkshire writer/directors travelled to Vilnius, accompanied by international screenwriter, teacher, and script consultant, Simon van der Borgh. [link to Simon and Brit directors]

Working with Simon, we’d devised a bespoke six-day programme of teaching on story and script structure for the group. Simon’s involvement was made possible through the support of Lina Balėnaitė, Director of the British Council in Lithuania. 21 British Council Offices - a break22 class one
The first day’s teaching kicked off at the British Council offices with an overview presentation on the Film & Television Industry in Lithuania - past, present and future and an idea of current cinema funding taken by Rasa Miskinytė, Head of Film Production at LRT and Ieva Skarzinskaite, Director of Mediadesk, Lithuania.
23 Mediadesk & LRT presentation


For the following three days, the Yorkshire and Lithuanian ten writer/directors had an inspirational, collaborative time with intense full days of teaching by Simon.
24 Simon teaching like lightning


Following the end of Saturday’s teaching the Yorkshire directors, along with a handful of Lithuanian production folk headed by Kestas, set out on a three-day tour of Lithuania including a Spa town in the south, Kaunas and the major cities of Lithuania, Klaipeda the coast with the spectacular sand dunes of Nida.

25 Only 200 miles to go


In a frantic pace the group not only had a chance to see the range of Lithuania’s landscape but to visit many of the museums and cultural places unique to the country, including the original art work of MK Čiurlionis, the Devil’s Museum, folk carvings of Witches Hill, a pilgrimage to The Hill of Crosses and on to the Soviet Sculpture Park to witness a breathtaking collection of artwork from the Soviet occupation.
28 tank28a Soviet28b James at the Soviet Park28c  Midnight film talk

 

The guided tours of many locations and the insights from our Lithuanian party gave the group a unique appreciation of new story, of the country’s recent history and its present place in Europe.

The evening of the third day’s touring saw a manic drive back to Vilnius where the Visions folk were guests at a reception at the private residence of The British Ambassador to Lithuania. The Ambassador invited a selection of Vilnius’ cultural and media people which gave for an informal and very pleasant experience.

At a larger new venue organised by the British Council and Mediadesk the final following three days once more saw Simon teaching on script and story. [pic 30]. The Visions group was widened to include other media students and interested members of the acting, film, animators, television and media industry in Lithuania.

Late Tuesday saw the screenings of the nine films from Yorkshire. [link to films]. The showcase screened as part of The Vilnius International Spring Film Festival. Cinema 88, which seats 88 people was full with people sitting in the aisles. This was happening while across town at the same time nearly a hundred other people, thanks to the Visions programme, were also enjoying the benefit of world-class story teaching from Simon.

The nine Yorkshire films included two recent BAFTA nominated films by Annie Watson and Harry Wootliff along with a number of other festival award winners. We had all nine films translated into Lithuanian and subtitled for the event. As in Yorkshire, the screening ended with a public Q&A with the directors assisted by Kestas on translation.

31 k-pavasaris-0532ZenklasLietuva33 Q&A in Vilnius
The British party included animator David Bunting (now a legend in Vilnius!). Following the first screenings David was ‘kidnapped’ by a group of Lithuanian animators until the wee hours of the next day. It would be hard not to acknowledge that having an animator in the group proved an added bonus and a great opportunity for two different industries and approaches to share their own unique world.

[photo A]

In between attending Simon’s final days of teaching the Yorkshire Visions folk also made a number of Industry trips to gain a true insight into the nature of the industry in Vilnius. This included animation studios, the main film and indie facility houses Cinevera and the former Soviet studios LKS.

34 visting Cinevera35 Cinevera
36 LKS ext


This studio was busy building sets for the upcoming Helen Mirren drama on Elizabeth I. One guest who accompanied us on our visits, screenings and Simon’s teaching was Geraldine Higgins who had travelled over from the British Council in London to shadow the Visions programme.

40 some of the gang

We ended as we had started, with screenings of the nine Yorkshire films at The Film Club a bar/restaurant venue frequented by arts/media types including at least three DoPs from other parts of Europe and much business card swapping. Again, people crowded in to enjoy what the industry is all about - the films.

All candles were burned at both ends.

At the end of the day, Visions of Yorkshire and Vilnius delivered above its weight, giving a benefit to all involved in the programme and gave something concrete to the oft forgotten tier of intermediate filmmakers. This cultural exchange was a reminder that film and filmmakers are part of a global community with an international language – story.


Peter M. Kershaw
Producer/Director
Duchy Parade Films Ltd
July 2005

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