July 1, 2007 — December 31, 2008
On behalf of the Fundy Film Society (FFS) I present the annual report from the Chair.
At this time last year, the Society agreed to alter the by-laws, changing the FFS fiscal year to January 1- December 31). Instead of a requirement to hold a fall AGM, we must do so during the first months of each year. And so we gather.
We came together for the previous AGM in October 2007 so this report covers 16 months in the life of the Society. It is also the seventh report I have delivered. There are some who believe that the seventh can be a transition year and as you will hear, this seems to be the case for the Fundy Film Society.
I begin by acknowledging our human resources. They reflect the structure, activity and workload of this Society. And we have experienced encouraging growth in this realm, which points positively toward sustainability.
First let me thank all Board Members who, as a body, carry the responsibility of Society. It speaks well for the passion and tenacity people have for film, and this Society, that seven current Board members were already involved before our first AGM in the Autumn of 2002, including three who were at the very first meeting that eventually brought the Fundy Film Society into being: Al Whittle, Wil Zimmerman and Susan Hauer. The other four are Mary Costello, Lee Lewis, Ned Zimmerman, and Michaele Kustudic.
One Board Member who joined us almost this early is Olivia Frampton. Olivia resigned from the Board since the last AGM, and although she was acknowledged at a Board meeting at the time, I wish to thank her formally now. For a certain period until we moved to the new theatre, Olivia handled all the cash box work and made bank deposits as well. Olivia’s presence on the Board was always appreciated – a calm, steady, creative presence. Olivia decorated our Suggestion Box and the Fish Box we used to haul our materials. And she is still always ready to lend a hand. Thank, you, Olivia for good years of service to Fundy Film, still on going.
Today is a new start for a new Board. I thank all who have agreed to re-offer and I welcome those who are coming aboard anew. I want to thank in particular executive member Megan Haliburton, for faithful secretarial service and not only Board minutes but also contact with Joint Stocks, which is not always easy; and Wil Zimmerman, who has been treasurer for five years. I am also pleased to acknowledge Noemi Volovich, who is stepping into the treasurer’s post. Noemi, who joined us in the spring of 2007, has been working toward this day, quietly and patiently learning our particular and peculiar “ropes”, taking responsibility for the Box Office and bank deposits since September, setting up a bookkeeping program for Fundy Film on her computer, filling out all back forms to year one so we can reclaim over $1,000 of HST the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) has been withholding since they suddenly decided, after five years, that we now have to file Income Tax annually AND preparing today’s AGM financial report.
In the spirit of a new wave of Society volunteerism, Noemi has also lent a hand on many occasions with post-film procedures (Marquee reader board, poster changes etc.), covered Box Office ticket and Six-Pack sales and especially in the summer, was a willing back-up for Wil and me. Thank you, Noemi.
Trevor Dalgleish is another new wave volunteer who has jumped in to help with print traffic and has been hauling our films to the bus each week since the fall. This has been a great service to the Society and Wil and me. Trevor’s great sense of humour, easy good nature and flexibility are most appreciated.
Our Box Office volunteers meet and greet our patrons for every screening. They represent Fundy Film to the public (Thank you, one and all.) and their scheduling has been in the hands of Mary Costello who has been at this since the earliest days of the Society. It’s a crazy job, with computer meltdowns and working around personal scheduling, but with emergency help from Mary’s husband, Michael Cussen, former Board member Olivia Framton and volunteer Soyna Stanley, Mary has carried on and on. Mary also arranges volunteers for our first Saturday 6-Pack Sale. Thank you, Mary.
It’s been in this seventh year that two newer Board members graciously lent a hand with our three seasonal brochures. Bernice Barth and Mike Butler as a team initially, completed a full Winter ’08 brochure draft – the only one Wil and I had not done since the first. Bernice and Mike continued, until sadly, Bernice (who was also shadowing me as vice-chair) had to move to Halifax. Mike has carried on writing “The Blurbs” as we say. This has been an extraordinary contribution and I thank Bernice and Mike, and now Mike for this very important turn in the road.
Mike has also taken on another role we appreciate: he makes screening announcements regularly like nobody’s business. For those of you who did not attend GONZO, you missed a Mike classic: he led the entire audience in the singing of Happy Birthday — to him! An unforgettable moment, but most characteristic of the good humour and charm he brings to the role.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing a lot of brand new faces at Fundy Film screenings lately. Another important seventh year change is a new audience demographic Fundy Film is experiencing. There are many reasons for this but most revolve around an increasingly effective PR net our web site, volunteers and community media are weaving.
- I thank Ned Zimmerman for designing a web site that we can manage and Wil Zimmerman for maintaining it week to week. Our site is very popular and the most accessible, thorough and consistent source of information we have.
- One person who began working with us in this seventh year is Norma Kennedy. Norma has doggedly trekked PR materials to the hinterlands of Kings County since she became a Society member. Patrons have appreciated finding our posters and brochures in their libraries, post offices and other local spots. Thank you so much, Norma.
- Our PSAs are read on C.B.C., Magic 94 and new kid on the block, K-Rock, which also posts our films on their events web site.
- We are grateful to Community-Events list serve too, which Fundy Film first used in 2005. Heather Holm created it on March 23, 2000. It was taken on by Jasmine Land in May 2004 and Bruce Dienes has been tending it since October 2007. This is an amazing tradition and significant community inter-net service.
- as is the very new Valley Events! Creator, James Skinner, of ARTS-542 is contributing this fabulous new listing, just recently including the poster with each of our films too. If you haven’t discovered it yet, check it out! valleyevents.ca
- Speaking of fabulous, thank you, Wendy Elliott, for faithful arts listings, coverage and features in The Advertiser and The Register, which, along with the Chronicle-Herald and the invaluable The Grapevine keep our films before the reader’s eye. Adam Barnett offered the first Grapevine issue in May 2004 and it has been under the creative care of Ariana Nasr and Andy Flynn since August 2007. The Grapevine has always put our blurbs in the free What’s Happening calendar, it’s carried our only paid ad since the earliest days (and now on p.7 of each issue) and Andy will write a Fundy Film feature quick as a wink.
We are most grateful to all these avenues for sharing our Fundy Film Society information to the wider community. And I’m not exaggerating: We had four folks from Truro trek to the theatre for our Happy Go Lucky screening.
I will also add here that in another form of PR, Light & Shadow Video has continued to sell our 6-Pack tickets very successfully. We appreciate this service very much and thank owner Stephen Peters and his staff for this contribution. L & S also posts our schedule and keeps brochures on the counter. A nod to Megan and Bob here!
Acadia University volunteers have contributed to the increase in student audience members. We can attribute some of this to Rachel Brickner, political science professor who joined us in the fall of 2007. Rachel has been sending out our public service announcements to the faculty list-serve since Wil left Acadia in May 2007. Rachel, fellow poli-sci prof GeoffreyWhitehall, who also joined in the fall of ’07 (and has been known to sell Six-packs on Sale Day), along with new student volunteer Christina Muehlburger and seasoned student Board member Azura Goodman have done some brainstorming and word-of mouth advertising to make students more aware of the theatre and our series. Azura started sending some e-mails out last year and late this fall established a bona fide Fundy Film Society Facebook page. Our BAC board and brochure pocket, dressed up with mini posters; a broader poster distribution on campus this winter; and a couple Athenaeum weekly event-blocks that included our films have helped raise our profile too. I also sent (at last!) an e-list through Rachel to the faculty outlining scheduled films by department that might interest or compliment specific academic programs for both students and faculty. Finally, I am working with Alex Gillis, a student in the Community Development class who chose to volunteer with the Fundy Film Society for this term. Alex’s work with Fundy Film focuses completely on getting our series out there for students to discover.
While we’ve been seeing new faces and our series and screenings in quality and quantity have remained steady, the Spring series of 2008 lost over two grand. So, considering we had been able to invest, over time, $30, 000 in the Acadia Cinema Cooperative Ltd. and another $1,000 in 2008 for the projector fund (by topping up the $865 brought in during the NFB Animals screenings in 2005), this shook us to the core and coupled with the $1,000 being withheld from the CRA, put us in a no-hiring position for the summer. Sigh. The summer series (one screening) held its own and gave us start-up money for the Autumn. But by December, we were once again in pretty rough shape. Michaele Kustudic initiated a three-film survey this past year, and for the most part, audiences were very pleased with our film choices. So the Board has hashed this out more than once, trying to understand the Why? of dropping attendance, and offering up many solutions and a little marketing committee. Some ideas are in a wait-and see holding pattern, because of our position as the Acadia Cinema Cooperative Ltd’s anchor tenant: cutting back screenings, for example, will only hurt the Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre (our new home) and that is unacceptable. In light of the economy, raising prices would need careful scrutiny as well. Other ideas have been acted on immediately and so far, the Winter series, always our best any way, is doing well. We must choose very carefully for the Spring series, which has always been our most difficult season. Another important observation: we have not had a blockbuster, which always skews the financial picture, since An Inconvenient Truth (September 2007).
I shared at the last AGM about a new member, John Brocke, who with his wife, Anna Garner had joined FFS at the 2006 AGM and how during that year, after a film selection meeting, John had initiated and followed through on an effort to get new brushed aluminum letters (gratis) for over the theatre doors. On January 17, 2009, John Brocke was fatally injured on the 101 when an on-coming vehicle hit black ice and crossed the lane into John’s vehicle near the St. Croix exit. Wil Zimmerman participated in John’s memorial service and shared how much his generosity and engagement had meant to those of us who knew him in the Fund Film Society and everyone who passes under those beautiful letters. His loss is deeply felt not only by family and friends everywhere but also in the wider Valley community and the art world.
The Society likes to measure its year-to-year success by analyzing how well we’ve done meeting our programming mandate and the goals we have set out for ourselves. This seventh year has been stellar in many ways. Here are the highlights:
- At last, with the NFB and Nance Ackerman we had the Valley première of Cottonland and her short, Fid (Oct ’07)
- In a push to elevate the need for a digital cinema projector, a committee of FFS planned a series of screenings with a free demonstration HD projector. We all remember the disaster of the lost projector of Digital Days in the final week of January 2008, but even out of the ashes we rose and had:
La bohème – Opus Arts digital screening – a taste of possibilities to come.
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City – in partnership with Acadia’s School of Music
original music by student composers played live to the silent film
Fundy Filmmakers Night 1 and 2 – And here I offer (as in post Digital Days Board meetings) my most sincere gratitude to marke slipp, who worked tirelessly over the winter holiday period to make these two evenings roll out successfully. We featured ten filmmakers with Valley connections – eight joined us for q & as, and we offered both features and shorts of varying lengths. A real trial run for our illusive Fundy Filmmakers Festival!
- “Shorts in Winter” was never officially organized but between Fid, Fundy Filmmakers, McLaren’s Negatives with McLaren Retrospective, Madame Tutli-Putli and Watchmaker we made a good start. Let’s keep this going.
- In addition to Cottonland and FF Nights, we also had four other exceptional film events with guests and discussion:
Lars and the Real Girl – an amazing experience with documentary filmmaker Dave Hockey who brought his authentic (from the film) Bianca doll for three screenings and shared his experience researching for his new film.
Strand: Under the Dark Cloth – another heroic effort from marke slipp to bring this historic print and director John Walker together in our theatre.
Young People F***ing – Acadia poli-sci department-led discussion around Bill C-10 and issues with four university panelists: Andrew Biro – moderator, Geoffrey Whitehall (poli-sci), Jon Saklofske (English) and Laurie Dalton (Acadia Art Gallery curator)
Griefwalker with filmmaker Tim Wilson / and panel (former FFS Board member Michelle Matthews, Brenda Wallace Allen, Paulette Gash, Robyn Brown-Hewett – in partnership with the NFB and benefit to Valley Hospice Foundation ($748.40).
In a side note: Partnerships have always been important to the Fundy Film Society. In addition to those previously mentioned we also cooperated with an international community development conference’s mini-fest and with K-Rock’s screening of Shine A Light.
- ACC completed an ACOA grant and if successful, it will provide us with a long-wanted second small theatre of 35 to 42 soft seats with screen and digital projector allowing many new opportunities for Fundy Film. Fingers are crossed.
- Since the last AGM, we screened 72 films of which 25 were Canadian and all our shorts were Canadian as well. We had over 160 screenings, representing an ambitious program providing our wider community with the best of film.
- Finally, it is with great satisfaction that I can write in this report that the long-awaited digital cinema projector has been ordered and should be here some time this spring.
So, quite a year, this number seven, in spite of financial stress! All of us should be very pleased with the Fundy Film Society’s accomplishments and sustainability.
And now after seven years it is time for me to step down. But without Bernice, is there anyone waiting in the wings? I hope so.
Thank you, one and all, for the years of co-operation and all the good work and fun we have had making the Fundy Film Society happen. I look forward to a continued bright future for our Society.
Mahalo and Aloha,
Susan J. Hauer