• Tom Doona

The Manchester Filmmaking Network - An Honest Update

Midway through 2020, we launched a platform on our website called The Manchester Filmmaking Network. We had spent a lot of time working on its conceptualisation and development, and then we let it loose into the online world. In an adjoined blog post at the time we explained what it was all about, and why we had created it: we wanted to give the North West a platform for communication, collaboration and general engagement with other creative-types, most notably those within the world of filmmaking. We had carefully developed the interface and features of the platform to shine the spotlight of focus solely on the creative and professional qualities of its users. We knew that the film industry (and the creative industry at large) is still shrouded in a blanket of inequality and we wanted to give our hand in helping overcome this. Of course we weren’t going to change the world – but we were determined to add a small cog to the mechanism that eventually would. The network was about creating film without any biases or preconceptions getting in the way. And so it is of course something that we continue to be actively passionate about.

But we will be honest; the Network didn’t really work all that well the first time round. And we are happy to admit that. We made it very clear that the Network’s initial release was a Beta test, to gauge how well the platform engaged users and whether the interface/features had been pieced together in the right way. And upon going live we were really happy with how the platform looked. As more and more users signed up, we saw that our initial ideas/intentions did have a spark and the platform was used by a few people for the exact reason we had aimed for. Questions were being asked about films people had watched, locations people had scouted, experiences people had. And a small number of people were starting to connect.

And then it slowed down. A lot. People stopped signing up, and those who had signed up found less of a reason to log in – because the community was not really growing as we had hoped. In retrospect, the reason for that was quite clear. A platform such as The Manchester Filmmaking Network requires a lot of monitoring and updating to keep itself fresh, and we had underestimated this. There was a gulf between the time that needed to go into the Network and the time that we at City Projections had to offer it. We had not given up, but maintaining the platform to the degree it needed/deserved to be kept to was unsustainable for us. To make it grow, we needed to constantly update and rework the platform itself, and to be honest we just didn’t have the time. A lot was going on in our lives, both in and outside of filmmaking, and the Network was a little too much for us to handle at the time.

But that sounds like we’re waving the white flag - we can assure you we are not. Yes, the Network is no longer live on our website. But that is not because it is dead and buried. It is because we took a step away from it for a while, after our Beta release, and have spent some time thinking up ways of morphing and redeveloping the platform in a way which we can really maintain and help grow. We are working on redeveloping the Network with a different technical approach and a bit more of a straightforward interface. Nothing has changed in regards to our intentions with the platform – and we are still 100% confident that it can, and will, have its place within the Greater Manchester filmmaking community. We are still determined to help level the playing field in this industry, and to give a place for creatives to meet, share; and thrive.

We are currently in the early stages of a couple of projects which have the potential to be very big. And these projects could really benefit from the Manchester Filmmaking Network. 2020 was a rocky year. 2021 will be rocky too, let’s be honest. But creating and collaborating is a sure fire way of getting through that rockiness. We want to help with that – so the Manchester Filmmaking Network will be back.

- City Projections