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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Elizabeth-Valentina (@ValentaiZie) June 25, 2016
In future posts I will share what I learnt in the sessions with Festival Formula and Together Films.