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Doc Edge 2010: what to expect at the Forum – part one

The Doc Edge Forum (DEF) runs Monday-Wednesday next week. We take a sneaky peek – in two parts – at what will be on offer over the three days.

The full programme offers a mix of sessions that might be broken down into the categories of the informational (and hopefully inspirational) sessions and those of a more obviously practical bent.

Today we focus on the practical, the down-and-dirty tips and tricks sessions and workshops designed to get your documentary to the next level, be that off the page and on to film or video, raising money to make it, or finding places to screen or sell it.

The ‘workshop’ programme, dotted through the Forum’s three days, contains sessions on pitching, proposal writing, 360 degree content, whether or not DIY is a good idea, building communities, hybrid forms and the speed-dating session Date A Doco.

Pat Ferns, the very intelligent and entertaining MC for last year’s DOCNZ Summit (as it was then called), general bon vivant and also the man credited with inventing the competitive Pitch Sessions so common at documentary and other conferences these days, will run a Pitching Masterclass, Pitching Your Way to Success. Projects selected for the Pitch Competition will work with Mr Ferns to hone their presentations while everyone else gets to watch participants squirm while benefiting from the knowledge being shared without being centre frame.

Leanne Pooley will lead a session on Proposal Writing. Ms Pooley is an accomplished documentary maker, whose films have screened in over 100 countries. She’s won various awards, including (locally) for Relative Guilt (1999), Haunting Douglas (2005) and The Promise (2006), a film about euthanasia advocate Lesley Martin.

All of those paled into the background in the wake of the juggernaut that Topp Twins – Untouchable Girls became last year, breaking NZ box office records, winning awards here and overseas and still making merry on the international festival circuit.

Clearly Ms Pooley knows a thing or two about both making successful films and getting the projects off the ground in the first place.

Wendy Levy, multi-media guru from San Francisco’s Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), leads a panel discussion on 360 degree Content Creation and Delivery. A cookie way beyond smart, Ms Levy returns following her participation in DOCNZ last year. She is a regular speaker and workshop leader on the international conference circuit.

The panel session focuses on new media, cross-platform, participatory media, interaction and collaboration in a digital world. Variations of this session appear at every conference (documentary or otherwise) these days and usually beg the question: how can we monetize it? There are, however, plenty of other questions to consider, like: how do we stay ahead of the game when the landscape changes so quickly?

The panellists will be the UK’s Marc Boothe and locals Peter Worrall (3d Limited NZ) and Glenn Usmar (NZ On Air).

Marc Boothe is a creative producer, who produced the feature Bullet Boy, for which he was nominated Best British Producer by the UK Film Critics Circle. He is also Founder and Managing Director of B3 Media, an award-winning digital media arts network. He is an EP on the British digital short scheme Blank Slate, and is developing his next feature for Film4.

Peter Worrall is a conceptual designer and storyboard artist on numerous local and international feature films. He has created software for specific events such as the
Commonwealth games and world expos. In the last three years Peter has been specialising in the design and creation of 3D interactive virtual environments.

Ewa Bigio of Smiley Film Sales Limited (which recently sold The Jaquie Brown Diaries into the US) will lead a panel discussion on distribution models, with James Franklin (Pixeco UK) and Untouchable Girls producer Arani Cuthbert (Diva Productions Limited).

Pixeco is a digital design studio dedicated to documentary film projects. The company explores and champions new forms of distribution as well as harnessing social media for the documentary cause. Ms Cuthbert was recently one of four recipients of the NZFC Producer Awards.

The panel will examine the true costs of self-distribution, some of the success stories of web-based models, to help filmmakers decide whether or not a DIY approach is right for them and their projects.

James Franklin will also run a session on creating communities around their films and the benefits and pitfalls of doing.

Dr. Peter Zimmerman, a Film scholar, author and lecturer at the University of Wuppertal (FBA) in Germany, will give a presentation surveying the most important trends of hybrid documentary filmmaking, including autobiographical portrait films, video diaries, docudramas and docu-soaps as well as, you know, good old documentaries themselves.

The popular Date-A-Doco speed-dating session will also return, giving the opportunity to play musical chairs with an assortment of potential friends, producers, commissioners, buyers and mentors.

The second part of this article can be found here.

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