Is it possible to go to a film festival and not see any films? Well, on Saturday I did just that. I spent the day in Sheffield at the Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF). The festival lasted the whole weekend, but Saturday was the only day I could be there as on Sunday I was supposed to be in a hot air balloon floating above Bakewell. It didn't happen AGAIN, but that's another story. Back to ShAFF.
ShAFF has been an annual event for a few years now and is a brilliant showcase for the (usually short) films made by (usually young male, but not necessarily short) people who are making their lives all about adventure. I was really interested to see some of these films and get myself a good dose of inspiration, but was far too distracted by all the great workshops, forums and talks that were on offer.
First up was a travel writing workshop run by Phoebe Smith, editor of Wanderlust magazine. I made lots of notes and was really pleased to hear a lot of what she said tallying with what I've found out from all the research and reading I've been doing over the past year. It's so good to know I'm on the right track!
Rushing back to the 'lecture theatre' (aka the bar area) after a quick lunch of rather tasty fennel and potato soup, I found it already filling up for the cycle touring forum. The only seats left were on the front row, right in front of the panel. As one of my personal mottoes is 'live life on the front row', this was definitely not a problem.
Leon McCarron (young, male, not particularly short) led the panel which included another solo male cyclist and a couple of couples (half of each couple was female. YES!). The six had done very different tours and had different views on speed with Ed Shoote being the most zoomy. They each spoke a bit about their cycle tours and then answered questions from the audience. Cycle touring is on my list of things to do so it was quite interesting to hear what they had to say. Though I'm not planning on cycling round the world as Laura and Tim Moss did or even cycling 2,500 miles along the Great Divide from New Mexico to Banff in Canada as Hannah Maia did for her megamoon (a longer, more adventurous version of a honeymoon) with new husband Patrick. A week in the Netherlands might be quite enough for me.
After a coffee and cake break, it was time a film making workshop. In the first half Paul Diffley showed techniques for interviewing people on camera and explained how to set shots up. The second part of the session focussed on sound with Chris Prescott making us aware that good sound engineering is just as much about the sounds you remove as those you leave in. This is all really useful as I've used video a lot in my teaching and at some point I do want to make a short film of my own - this being another item on my list of things of do.
The final session of the day was a series of Shed Talks. These were modelled on the slightly better known TED Talks, but as we were at ShAFF in Sheffield the moniker 'Shed' sounded more appropriate. The talks were all motivational with the most moving speaker being a climber with terminal cancer who, after diagnosis, set up the charity 'Climbers Against Cancer (CAC)'. The charity has raised thousands of pounds internationally and I felt privileged to hear founder John Ellison tell his story in his brief ten minute slot. When diagnosed he was given two years to live. That was three years and four months ago.
I thought of how much he's achieved and how important it is to never waste a second of the life we're given. With that sobering thought we repaired to the bar to sample Abbeydale Brewery's special ShAFF IPA (no, not Indian Pale Ale, but Intrepid Pale Ale of course).
ShAFF is held at the Showroom Cinemas and Workstation close to Sheffield train station. As well as films, workshops and talks, there are stalls advertising or selling adventure related products and a second-hand kit stall where you can sell your old kit and use the proceeds to buy someone else's old kit.
The website for ShAFF can be found here.