DocWorks: coming up to the film industry orbit

21 April 2016

Where should documentary beginners look for support? Who of famous directors and producers helps them develop their ideas for documentaries, and why do they do that? These problematic for Ukraine questions can be answered by curators of the new project for young film directors - DocWorks: UA/UK. 25th of April is the last day you can apply to participate.


Anna Parker, one of the curators, is convinced that trainings like this are the most efficient way to build a story for your film and to understand what real film industry is like.


For the last seven years Anna Parker has been working at British Sheffield Doc/Fest film festival. She is concerned with special opportunities for filmmakers, such as MeetMarket, Alternate Realities Market, Sales Sunday and others. We asked her what this project can give to Ukrainian documentalists.   


What was the main goal in creating this project at first in Mexico and now in Ukraine?


There is a great power in the group and in learning and working together with new people and mentors and that’s what Doc/Fest is about, bring the international community together for business and for collaboration and to inspire each others’ disciplines.


How it works in Britain, for example? And what kind of possibilities young documentary directors have in Europe?  Where they can improve their documentary projects?


For example, coming to Doc/Fest is a good start! The documentary community gathers at Doc/Fest each June to come together, to talk about the trends in the industry meet with potential new business partners. There is a level playing field at Doc/Fest, your festival pass enables you access to everything, there are no exclusive or secret parties, everyone goes to everything, together. We also run a number of training programmes year round for documentary makers to improve their craft. In Europe there are a number of excellent training schemes run from Europe, which can really make or break documentary makers. 


With what kind of problems "mentors in documentary industry" exactly can help young directors?


Sometimes you need a helping hand to steer your story in the right direction, you may have the ideas and the access for the story, but be unsure how to pitch it and get it made. The mentors on the DocWorks programme are there for support with narrative, and distribution strategy and also to bring the bigger international picture in terms of the international documentary market.



According to experience DocWorks in Mexico what kind issues or topics had disturbed young directors most of all? Can we say that it will be the same "annoying questions" from Ukrainian directors?


Questions are very specific to each project. In general, there are often questions about ethics if the central character is problematic; questions about the narrative arc, a story has to have a beginning a middle and an end, even in documentary. Where the documentary will go, and what the audience is for it is a very important question and one that a filmmaker should start about from the very beginning - is this a festival film, with a life in the cinema? Or is it for TV, and if so which broadcaster in which country will fund it, or is it for an online audience, and are there any immersive or cross-platform elements to bring to the table?


And on what kind of “lacunas” in documentary projects in general do you want to focus on such program?


We want to focus on story and characters, and distribution strategy. When filmmakers are first starting out in the feature doc industry they might have an idea but that really needs to be worked thorough before it is ready to be pitched. We want to turn real ideas into reality and bring them to market. The course culminates in the participants pitching their ideas to an industry panel, we want to prepare the filmmakers on the DocWorks programme for that, as well as preparing them for a long-term career in the documentary industry. We also want to forge links between filmmakers in the UK and UA.


In your opinion what kind of stories can really achieve "viewer's mind" outside Ukraine, but which would be about Ukraine?


The political situation in Ukraine is of course interesting but really the question of what kind of stories can be achieved is a question for the Ukrainian filmmakers themselves. I’d like people to come to this programme with something truthful, and with stories about real life, and the spirit of the people. This is not something that can be covered in a news report. Documentary is supposed to open your eyes to new things, and how people feel and think.


The British Council in Ukraine, Sheffield Doc/Fest and Docudays UA have come together to deliver a three-stage feature documentary training and mentorship programme - DocWorks: UA/UK.


On photo presentation of DocWorks during Docudays UA, photo be Sergey Khandusenko

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April 2022