By Nick Francis

We were lucky enough to spend a few days this week at the HowTheLightGetsIn Festival in Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border. Set up by the Institute for Art and Ideas (IAI) and billed as a philosophy and music festival, it occupies the end of Hay not taken up by the more established, but no more worthy, literary festival. The rolling green hills, and future mint sauce accompaniments gambolling away, complete the bucolic scene.

Festival discussions ranged from truth versus narrative in journalism, the nature of certainty in leadership, and what the world would be like if it was run by women. It was all pretty involving stuff.

We were there to see how some of our young Academy filmmakers were getting on. We were originally approached by the IAI to provide some camera operators who could cover the 10-day event.

We chose a few young bods we felt were up to the challenge and provided them with two days of training in London to brush up on how to use the kit. In total, there are 14 filmmakers (not all from the Academy) working on-site at the event. The conditions and challenges they are facing are almost exactly the same as those faced by a professional crew, so it’s the perfect entry into the working world for our aspiring filmmakers.

It was really inspiring to see how quickly they were all taking to it and to hear how positive they all were about the experience. We’re going to be looking at ways of getting these young, talented filmmakers more involved in the rest of our output. Watch this space.

In the meantime, here are my top five fairly unconnected points from the event:

  1. Haris Rafiq, Managing Director the Quilliam Foundation, spoke fantastically well on extremism and its causes. The key is to promote the core principles of free Western democracy that we hold dear.
  2. Consuming news from a range of viewpoints is important. Discussions between groups who disagree tend towards a common ground; discussions between two groups who agree tend toward a more extreme end point.
  3. Margaret Hodge, Labour MP,  told us that female MPs tend to seek consensus, whereas men tend towards parliamentary “argy-bargy”. Yes there are some nasty women too, but what would the world really be like if women were truly equal throughout society?
  4. Beyond a certain level, increased wealth does not bring increased happiness. This means we are poisoning the atmosphere with increased carbon (which increases in proportion to wealth) without getting happier. Apparently Costa Rica has the perfect balance, in case you’re wondering.
  5. Otters! If you want to see them on a canoe trip down the river Wye, go first thing in the morning. It turns out they’re not fans of school kids in canoes and tend to hide away after a couple of splashings.