Open City Doc Fest


I spent the weekend in London to attend Open City Doc Fest. Like Sheffield Doc Fest, Open City Doc Festival is about more than simply exhibiting films. Its programme  also features live events and performances as well as really interesting masterclasses and panels.

I attended three really insightful panels hosted by organisations such as Doc Heads, Festival Formula and Together Films.

The first panel I went to ‘The road from shorts to features’ was hosted by Doc Head’s founder Tristan Anderson.

Doc Heads Trailer from Doc Heads on Vimeo.

Tristan began the session by giving everyone some advice ‘Your first film will be your worst, get it out of the way..’ He followed this up by showing us a great short film called ‘The Gap’ which perfectly explains why it getting your first film out of the way is so important in the process of making work that actually matches your taste level.

THE GAP by Ira Glass from Daniel Sax on Vimeo.

Then by using filmmaking duo Matt Hopkins and Ben Lankester, who’s film A Divorce before Marriage premiered at the festival, as a case study we looked at the steps required to make the transition from short docs to features.

A Divorce Before Marriage – Official Trailer 1 from A Divorce Before Marriage on Vimeo.

Matt and Ben, as many filmmakers before them, explained that they were required to produce commercial content in order to make their company, Progress Films,  financially viable and for them to go on to produce their creative work. Matt explained that whilst ‘A Divorce Before Marriage’ had not financially enriched them. It was the work that they were most proud of. They explained that when you’re working on projects for free you have to look at the bigger picture and remember than something will come from it eventually. The duo produced a series of short character portraits for a collection called ‘England your England’. Although they ended up having to fund it from their own pockets, their films were selected as Vimeo Staff Pick and they established a community of filmmakers around them who appreciated their work. From the series, they received commercial work.

Richard from England Your England on Vimeo.

I think its really important to remind yourself of the hard work people have had to put in to get to where they are today, so I found the session both really inspiring and informative.



In future posts I will share what I learnt in the sessions with Festival Formula and Together Films.


Good News…

I received an email today saying that I have been accepted to attend FirstLight’s Documentary training in Birmingham.  I’m so excited!

In other news, my DSLR (Canon 550D EOS with a 18-55mm lens) has arrived. Which means as soon as my exams are over I can really commit to producing some videos and improving my operating skills.

FirstLight’s #SLDocLab.

Today I went to a session with FirstLight about documentary film making.

It was a fantastic opportunity because it was the chance to be selected for one of ten places to work with the First Light team and develop our documentary making skills aswell as attend the Sheffield Documentary Festival in June.  It was a great day because we got to network with some fantastic young individuals, discuss documentary ideas and practice our pitches in front of the rest of the group and a fantastic panel of judges including Morgan Matthews, Deborah Aston and Yen Yau.

We find out on Thursday whether or not we are one of the lucky ten! 

Fingers crossed!!

At Coachella, Tupac lives…

This year’s Coachella has gotten everyone talking with it’s amazing line up combining both rap and rock artists but only one star appeared years after their death as a hologram.

16 years after rap icon, Tupac Shakur was shot dead, he joined Snoop Dogg on stage for a performance we’ll never forget. It left the audience in awe and the bloggisphere rife with opinions and critiques. The performance has even spawned a parody twitter account @hologram2pac.

Using techniques similar to those the Gorillaz used for their performance at the 2005 Grammy awards the Rapper’s Hologram was created by AV Concepts and cost between $100,000 and $400,000. I was amazed by the incredibly realistic image of Shakur and was desperate to know how they managed to create it. Apparently it was a combination of live footage and CGI projected onto a lightweight foil. I think this is a great example of the huge strides we’ve taken technologically and I can’t imagine what will top this.

So now that we’ve had one of the biggest rap icons re-incarnated are our rock ‘n roll icons next on the list…Who will be the next star to be brought back to life?

Perhaps we’ll have queen with their original lead vocalist Freddy Mercury in Hologram form?

Or perhaps they’ll make my dreams come true and have hologram Cobain front Nirvana one last time?

I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!