The above map demonstrates where the concentration of our web visits to the 72 site came from in the last year. We obviously have the numbers that inform this graphic but they are less visual so I figured the heat map would give a good impression of where we are at (pun intended). It is easy to see the concentration around the UK and Ireland due to our base here, but it is also possible to see our connections to Australia and the USA (Anglophonic cinema?) are stronger than most others. Is it also possible to see our connection to Germany is much stronger than France (presumably through our presence at Berlinale). This is all pretty much obvious, and it mimics what we see in the physical world (i.e., the interest is stronger in the places that we have been).
Here’s another map.
This is from a different project that I ran a couple of years ago and I’m just about to finally finish. It is called ‘Crushing Snails’, and it involved me sending papier mache snails made of bank overdraft letters around the world. You can see more of that here. This map is from exactly the same time period as the 72 map that I showed before, but it is possible to see that the distribution of interest is far more even with the snails project.
I was recently interviewed about community filmmaking and my thoughts about it. I made a point during that interview, which I think these maps can demonstrate. Much of the time, when we generate interest from a community, it doesn’t often translate to being of interest to many others. If you emphasise a geographical connection, then you are disinteresting someone further away (this is a local shop for local people!). If you emphasise a thematic connection to the project, what interests one can bore another. This is natural.
However, the problem is that just because you are making something within your community, it doesn’t mean that you want it to be limited to your community. Yes, certainly there is something to be said about finding the ‘niche’, and you can’t be all things to all people, but we have to reach out beyond those immediately around us in order to make the project worth it for the people involved. There was a prominent documentary about climate change not so long ago that really appealed to climate change activists, but failed to influence those who weren’t engaging with climate change. This is preaching to the converted! Our film has to be universal enough to have a life outside of the 72 hours, and be a movie in it’s own right that can travel to festivals and challenge that perception that people may have of Birmingham. Cinematically put it on the map in a way that the Full Monty did with Sheffield for example.
Over the coming months we’ll be working to guest blog, write articles, do podcasts etc to spread the word a bit further than just our usual channels. If some of you know of people, places, organisations or websites that you think would be interested in what we’re doing, please share their details with us so that we can get in touch with them. Because as the first map shows, when you have a connection to somewhere, it is easier to grow there. If you can help us with the connections, you’d be our best friend.