"When we search for a place to have a conference," Jones says, "we want a place that offers more than facilities. We want a culture that ties what we're doing to what that city offers." Bringing event filmmakers together for a conference isn't just about assembling them in a hotel, he says; "we're bringing them into contact with a city's history and culture."
Part of this is just availing attendees of a visually varied and inspiring place to shoot, but in this instance, given the "Legacy" theme of IN[FOCUS] 2012, it was of paramount importance to choose a city with a rich and deep historical and cultural heritage. "We've chosen a theme that focuses on history-not the history of ourselves as event filmmakers, but the larger legacy of filmmaking. How did we get where we are now, and how are we looking toward tomorrow? How are we"-as event filmmakers participating in a global filmmaking community, and as attendees of educational events-"able to use what we're learning to build a solid living for ourselves, our spouses, and our children? How can we think beyond things techniques and practices like lighting angles and marketing to understand how excellence in these areas can lead to our building something that will sustain us and our families? We are preservers of other people's legacies, and sometimes we can get so involved in the day-to-day activities of our businesses that we never think about our own legacies. As an industry, we need to avoid the irony of preserving legacies for other while not having legacies of our own."
IN[FOCUS] 2012 will take place at the Francis Marion Hotel in downtown Charleston on January 16-19. Jones describes the King St. area of Charleston where the hotel is located as a spot just as lively and culturally rich in its own way as IN[FOCUS] 2011's New Orleans location, but a bit more family-oriented than Bourbon Street. The schedule for this year's show has been pushed back one day from previous years so the event begins with pre-conference workshops on Monday rather than Sunday, so event filmmakers will be able to take bookings on the previous Saturday and still make it to Charleston in time for the workshops. Eight rooms have been set aside for the Monday hands-on workshops, with topics to include DLSR use, SDEs, keeping a team together, sales, lighting, interviews, and more. The main conference program will run from Tuesday morning through the end of the day on Thursday.
The "Legacy" theme will play into IN[FOCUS] 2012 presentations differently from how 2011's "Gateway" theme manifested itself in this year's event. Partly, he says, it will be a "meditation" on how excellence in the areas they're discussing will help burnish their legacies. Beyond that, the idea is to encourage the event's 12 speakers "to do historical work to show that their creative forte is not something that they created themselves, but rather comprised of many influences." Team IN[FOCUS] and their presenters would like attendees to "recognize that they are not completely original. Realize that we all stand on other people's shoulders whether we know it or not."
As for what filmmakers who attended in 2010 and 2011 or both will discover that's new at IN[FOCUS] 2012, Jones says the first thing will be new topics in the presentations (no word yet on who the presenters will be-that announcement is coming in September). Beyond that, Jones says that people who attended the earlier events will arrive "with their businesses in different places. They'll have different needs. They're growing, and bringing in new people, and they need to think about how they're going to educate their own employees and pass on this knowledge." Jones says past attendees will also come with "new questions," as "last year's technical questions have evolved into more sophisticated business issues."
But the biggest benefit of assembling a group of event filmmakers at different stages of business growth, he says, is the shared experience, and the opportunity to "democratize the educational experience" through ongoing professional discussions with other attendees that extends the educational opportunities of the event beyond what the 12 presentations offer. "Learning peer to peer, networking, collaborating, education new employees year after year, it becomes more about relationships and how they help your business."
Another area in which IN[FOCUS] is continuing to work to "democratize" the educational process is through promoting new educational talent on the IN[FOCUS] blog, to "continually put forth experts in particular areas for education that happens in a smaller setting."
But the big "continuing education" news from Team IN[FOCUS] is the premiere of a new online educational project, a series of weekly Livestream webcasts that will start August 9, and feature industry experts familiar and new. The series will kick off with a webcast by 4-time EventDV 25 all-star and 2-time IN[FOCUS] presenter Patrick Moreau, who will be talking about StillMotion's biggest and most challenging shoot ever. Each webcast will carry the title "5 Things You Need to Know About..." and will feature a small amount of prepared content followed by extensive Q & A. The purpose of the Livestream webcasts, Jones says, is to "bring leaders to people anywhere in the world, bring a little but of the conference to them by providing a little morsel of content." Even if they can't make it to Charleston, Jones says, if they have internet access and a Facebook account (to participate in the live chat), registered members of the free area of infocusvideoevent.com can attend the Livestream webcasts and "interact with a presenter they might never meet in purpose."
Other Livestream presenters currently on the schedule will include David Robin, Steve Moses, Maura Coleman-Murray, Meg Simone, Steve Zugelter, Ron Dawson, and Chad and Drew from Shade Tree Films.
Speaker announcements for IN[FOCUS] 2012 will begin on September 13. Team IN[FOCUS] will continue to accept proposals for platform presentations an workshops through August 20. Early bird registration is priced at $575 and is available through November 24. For more details on IN[FOCUS] 2012 or to register, go to http://www.infocusvideoevent.com/.
Stephen Nathans-Kelly (stephen.nathans at infotoday.com) is editor-in-chief of EventDV.