Vlogs vs. Docs

Vlogging is a deeply personal, informal way of connecting with large audiences. At Sheffield Doc Fest 2016’s ‘Vlogs Vs. Docs’ panel, Jolyon Rubinstein from ‘The Revolution will be Televised’ said Youtubers connect with their audiences ‘in a way that alludes commissioners’.

The under 25 audiences connects with this content because they see the people who produce them to be ‘just like them’. Their honesty is the source of their power and watching their videos becomes a part of their subscribers everyday lives.

Watching television is a laid back form of consumption whereas vloggers are able to actively engage with their community and take audience feedback on board much quicker, making vlogging much more of a two way connection. This two way connection is likely to be one of the reasons the under 25s engage with vloggers so much.

Another way in which television and vlogs are different is the level of regulation. Only recently, (as of August 2015), did the ASA implement regulations in the UK regarding product placement and branded content for Vlogs. These regulations do not stipulate that vloggers can’t enter into a commercial relationship with a brand in the UK. They do however state that if a Youtuber is including paid product placement in a video they must disclaim it. Amazingly though this is still not the case in the States, I worry about the effect these ‘advertorials’ and product placements are having on the very young youtube audience who engage with and idolise these vloggers as they might not realise the youtubers are being paid to say they love the products they are endorsing.

Companies have to deal with tough restrictions when it comes to most advertising platforms so it is no surprise we’re seeing a rise in the number of companies reaching out to popular Youtubers and taking advantage of the unregulated online space.

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However, a vast majority of vloggers are very young. Fully understanding and complying with the rules and regulations is a big responsibility and it can have considerable repercussions. Vlogger, Jonathan Joly  advised bloggers to bear in mind that ‘The internet doesn’t forget.’ and that you have to be careful about which companies you align yourself with.

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Open City Doc Fest

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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.

Build your own film night:

Last week Flatpack: Assemble hosted an evening masterclass in Birmingham’s Impact Hub to inspire a new generation of cinephiles to create their own film nights.

After Cocks & Docs I am more interested than ever to continue organising film nights in the West Midlands. I want to do this because I love the idea of bringing people together in a cinematic space to share exciting content and to build a community of creative, like minded people in my home town. Film nights also give people an excuse to actually leave the comfort of their own house and socialise with new people.

byofnm3 They explained that at their core, film nights consist of three elements. Films, Places and People. You can control the films, you can control the place but you cannot control the people. You need to make the event special in some way to encourage audience members to attend. This can be done by showing content that can’t be seen anywhere else, holding the screening in an unusual venue or having an interesting mix of people/entertainment (such as dancers/musicians etc.)

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Here are some of Flatpack co-founder Ian Francis’s top tips on hosting your own film night:

  • Keep distractions to a minimum eg. natural light/noises from the venue
  • Don’t over programme, make sure you schedule intervals.
  • Make sure the audience are relatively comfortable
  • Think about the trajectory of the evening and the mood and tone of the films you screen.
  • Clear all the rights and licenses for both the venue and the films
  • Seamless presentation is important. In a later post I will break down some of the advice the Flatpack team had to offer about screening conditions.

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I’m so pleased to see Flatpack Festival organising more events across the year and reach out to people in the West Midlands, encouraging them to engage with film. If you don’t follow them already, you should…@flatpack

Flatpack Film Festival 2014 Trailer from 7inch cinema on Vimeo.

Sheffield Doc Festival 2016

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Sheffield Documentary Festival this year was amazing! I had the chance to watch some inspiring new documentaries, go to masterclasses with some of my idols and network with some really interesting people.

My highlights include:

  • ‘In Conversations’ with David Attenborough, Joanna Lumley, Michael Moore and D.A Pennebaker
  • Watching films including ‘Where to Invade Next’, ‘Presenting Princess Shaw’, ‘KiKi’ and ‘Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures’
  • Experiencing VR for the first time
  • Networking with people from the industry
  • And listening to a keynote speech from an android (Bina48) Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 18.59.07.png

Here’s a rundown of my time at the festival….

 

 

An of course how could I forget about the networking parties…

I would recommend the festival to anybody who wants to produce documentaries as well as to those who just love to watch non-fiction films. Sheffield, I’ll be back.

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