Win loadsa moolah (£50k) with Pepsi

May 27th, 2010 posted by Helen Jack

It’s a tight one, but if you have a few hours free between now and Saturday 29 May, get some friends together, grab a ball and make a short film.

Pepsi are looking for short films that are about football, be it you inyour local park or something more adventurous.  Once that’s in the (digital) can, upload it to the site and pester everyone you know to vote for it.  The film with the most votes will be awarded £50,000 and a team of experts to create a once in a lifetime football experience. Hmmm, intriguing.

Media That Matters – London premiere

May 25th, 2010 posted by Helen Jack

US non-profit organisation Media That Matters showcases short films on the most important topics of today, using film to inspire action and change. Every June, MTM presents a new selection of shorts and this – hurrah! – is their tenth year. For those of you who are London-based, there’s even more reason to “hurrah!” as MTM makes it’s UK debut on 4 June at the Frontline Club. Co-presented with Shooting People and Working Films, the jury-selected collection of films look at a broad range of human rights and social justice issues from the experience of transgender youth to health care in the US and racial prejudice.

There’s a great programme of eleven short docs (and one intriguing experimental short that explores the tyranny of the beauty industry through puppets!). Host, Robert West, will be joined by one of the subjects from Joel Engardio’s Justice Denied: Voices from Guantanamo’ for a Q&A after the screening.

Think this is going to be a pretty top night. For tickets and more information on the films, visit the Frontline Club’s event listings.

Docs at East End Film Festival (22 – 30 April)

April 20th, 2010 posted by Helen Jack

The East End Film Festival kicks off this Thursday with a programme that includes documentaries of every style and stripe.  Highlights include Dom Shaw’s All the Years of Trying which tells the story of late seventies punk poet Patrick Fitzgerald as well as Jaak Kilmi’s Disco and Atomic War which details the experience of growing up in a part of the Soviet Union that was close enough to Finland to see western television.

And for those who want to make rather than watch, the Filmmaker’s Centre is offering a chance for aspiring documentarians to sit down with Charlies Phillips, Marketplace Producer at Sheffield Doc/Fest, for the pitching initiative designed to match documentary makers’ most innovative project ideas with UK and international buyers.  To sign up, visit the Filmmaking Centre desk during the festival.  Come to Charlie with an idea in any stage of development that has international appeal and takes an innovative/fresh approach to either the content, the execution of the idea or both.  He’ll be able to give you more information on accessing funds inside and outside of traditional funding streams, including broadcasting, cross-media releases, DIY distribution and marketing.

Those are just a sample of the wide array of documentaries and activities the festival is offering, so be sure to check out their programme in full.

Good Screenings. Good Stuff.

March 31st, 2010 posted by Helen Jack

Hopefully most of you subscribe to Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation‘s newsletter – if not, get on the mailing list. For those who aren’t already signed up,  you may not have heard about Good Screenings, a new revolutionary film distribution system based on the model set up by Franny Armstrong and Lizzie Gillett for their doc The Age of Stupid. BRITDOC – who manage Good Screenings for Franny and Lizzie – saw this as a great opportunity to get campaign docs to a wider audience. It’s really exciting stuff.  By making it easier for people to hold screenings in their church hall, school assembly, board meeting or barn, Good Screenings facilitates community action and allows these social justice films to grow roots and flourish.

The website launched on 24 March and provides a selection of award-winning films, including The Yes Men Fix the World, The End of The line and Moving to Mars. Each month more films are added giving audiences the kind of choice they’re after. It’s really easy – just sign up for a license online, then with their simple booking system on the website they calculate how much it would cost to screen the film of your choice film, depending on who is watching, how many are expected and the location of screening. This project is really about putting your money where your mouth is. If organisations like BRITDOC are funding campaign docs, then the whole point is to get those films seen by as many people as possible. It’s about educating the masses. This can only happen if control is handed back to audiences.

Wow – sounds like a socialist manifesto! And it’s only 11am.

Submissions open: Sheffield Doc/Fest and IDFA

March 30th, 2010 posted by Helen Jack

Two of the year’s best documentary festivals have opened their calls for submission. Both Sheffield Doc/Fest (3 – 7 Nov) and IDFA (18 – 28 Nov) and are now accepting films. Details below:

Sheffield Doc/Fest: 16 June
IDFA: (Early bird) 1 May, 1 August (for films finished after 1 April)

Sheffield Doc/Fest: £25 + VAT
IDFA: n/a

Did you know?
Sheffield Doc/Fest: You can submit via online platforms such as Youtube, Vimeo and Dailymotion. Green and easy.
IDFA: For 2010, IDFA has decided to abandon the IDFA Competition for Short Documentary. However, this does not mean that the festival will not screen films shorter than 30/45 minutes. You can read all requirements here.

Bridging the Gap: the final pitch

March 16th, 2010 posted by Helen Jack

A while back I featured three of the filmmakers who had made it onto Bridging the Gap‘s training scheme. Weeks later, they’ve reached the point at which they make their final pitch to win development money – nerve-wracking stuff.  One of the students, Amy Rose, talks a bit about her experience over the past couple of months and how she feels having now reached the tipping point.

AR: “It’s a strange thing – having spent 3 weekends together, discussing each other’s projects in detail and getting to know each other, I now want everyone to get the money and make their films. But this cannot be! There were 12 originally but 1 dropped out, so now they will fund 7 out of 11. The decision rests on a host of different things – quality of the trailer you show, clarity of vision for your film, access to your central character/ place/ situation, your ability to convince people of your passion for the project, how appropriate your concept is for the 10 minute short form… lots of balls to keep in the air.

The workshops we’ve had have been extremely helpful. Peter Symes way back in January, then Danish guru-man Tue Steen Muller with his mountains of experience in pitching and a wry smile to challenge even the most assured director… and finally Henry Singer, and his boundless good humour. The eternal question he rightly asked at every opportunity: but what’s it really about? No, really? My project has come on in leaps and bounds, and it no longer takes me 15 minutes to bluster my way through the story of a character with all the complexities of real life. Getting the opportunity to meet these people has been brilliant, and not just for now; perhaps they can be allies for the future… specially Tue, in the big bad world of European documentary.

At the end of it, though, you’re on your own in the ring with the lights in your eyes and your knees trembling. Pitching is terrifying, but if I don’t get the money I’ll still make it anyway – I’ve started already, the relationship is going strong and the material I’ve already shot is good. I’ll just have to find some other source of cash… Other projects pitching are based in America and Japan – they would be in big trouble without the cheque in their hands. My set-up, though, is pretty simple – I shoot my own films, and often work alone because of the sensitivity of the relationship. Total immersion! It’s a bit weird, and doesn’t always lead to the best sound recording… but it also has it’s charms. Still, getting the money would mean I could buy a camera, which would make my life a lot easier. And if I don’t get it I will be seriously disappointed. So, fingers crossed, and a deep breath…

3rd Babelgum Online Film Festival open for submissions

March 12th, 2010 posted by Helen Jack

Yesterday, Babelgum opened their cyber doors to submissions for their 3rd Online Film Festival. If you have a doc with a running time of fifteen minutes or less, get it up! Unlike most festivals your work may get the exposure of reaching millions of people as opposed to being restricted to a lucky few who happen to be in one cinema on one day. The festival has five awards that recognise outstanding achievement across all four categories: Documentary, Non-Narrative, Narrative and Animation. You’ll also pick up cash prizes. Worth checking out I reckon.

Documentary, Myth-Making and the Moving Image

March 12th, 2010 posted by Helen Jack

Former monk Justo Gallego Martinez has spent the past forty years building his cathedral

One of the best aspects of living in London (as in any city) is that you’re constantly hearing about new screening nights, film clubs and discussions taking place. One that crossed my radar this morning is The Light and Shadow Salon at the Horse Hospital. The next event is taking place on Friday 19 March, where curator Chiara Abrosio will be presenting a programme of shorts around the topic of Docmentary, Myth-Making and the Moving Image.  Amongst the films being shown is James Rogan’s The Madman and the Cathedral, a great little doc I saw back in July at Rushes  Soho Shorts Film Festival.

The film follows Don Justo Gallego Martinez, a man who begun building a cathedral in his home town outside of Madrid back in 1963. Spurred on by his religous convinctions, Martinez (now in his eighties) continues to carry out this life-long task of finishing his project and making his vision a reality, despite gaining the nickname of  ‘el loco de la iglesia’ (the madman of the church) from locals. From an architectural perspective, the cathedral is beautiful because of its flaws and naivety; unlike most monumental structures you can see the human touch in its crooked walls and uneven arches. To feel the passage of time of one man’s life and to try and understand his unwavering sense of dedication and belief is quite remarkable.

For those of you who can’t make next Friday’s screening, fear not. We’ll be getting James’s film up on 4docs soon. Would be great to hear your thoughts on it.

MOFILM on Shooting People

March 9th, 2010 posted by Helen Jack

Last month Shooting People pulled out all the stops to encourage filmmakers to enter MOFILM‘s Barcelona Ad Competition. It paid off, with eight Shooting People members winning prizes, two coming top and one winning the Grand Prize.

As one competition ends, another opens – this time winners will be flown to Tribeca Film Festival and pick up a load of cash prizes.  To enter, you must make an ad of less than 90 seconds for one of six brands.

Many of you documentarians may balk at the idea of switching to narrative for the sake of a commercial, but as established filmmakers like John Sayles and Todd Haynes are finding, commercials are an increasingly becoming the most viable way for a director to make a living.  If nothing else, you can take the prize money and put it into your next doc.

Another plus is that MOFILM have offered Shooting People members an exclusive prize – all members who enter go into a draw to win an Apple MacBook. Not a member? No problem – sign up for a free trial membership.

Deadline: 6 April 2010

Link TV upload competition – $20,000 prize

March 9th, 2010 posted by Helen Jack

Every now and then a really brilliant upload competition comes along that blows all the others out the water. Link TV’s View Change film contest does just that, offering filmmakers the chance to make short films that will raise awareness of the UN’s Millenium Development Goals that aims to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.

You can be a first time filmmaker or a pro – it doesn’t matter. They’re just looking for work that inspires action and packs a punch.  It needn’t even be a doc – they accept any genre. There are six contest categories: Sustainability, Innovation, Overcoming Conflict, Empowerment, Leadership & Governance and Local/Global Partnerships, so there’s plenty of room to interpret the brief in interesting and original ways. The Grand Prize is $20,000 and $5,000 is awarded to the winner of each category, with online voters determining the finalists.

The competition opens 30 April and the dealine is 31 August.