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IDFA:European Cross-Media action

By Charlie Phillips 24 November, 2008

I'm at IDFA, as I told you, no doubt. In the FORUM today, there was a great 15 minute slot where the commissioners gathered there were asked to give us a quick review of their cross-media activity.

At Doc/Fest, we're a bit obsessed with Crossover and cross-platform thing, but you know what, I realised I didn't 100% know what a lot of these channels were doing - I get so wrapped up in the possible I sometimes forget to check the real. Anyway here's my rundown of today's update:

The various gangs in ARTE are really into cross-media projects and Alex Szalat from ARTE France accompanied the group pitching the remarkable cross-platform project Gaza Sderot, which was for me the undoubted highlight of the day definitely. It's beautifully-designed as well as politically important and easy to use. It's 100% internet at the moment, although a longer documentary may come out of it = although it's so perfect at the moment I don't really think it needs to. One of the other commissioners was pretty, well, scared by it, and didn't understand the economics behind it - which is a bit weird considering how wasteful TV documentary often is by comparison to slender web productions.

Anyway, I digress. Our lovely friend Barbara Truyen was the other big brave new web worlder, with her Holland Doc and other dedications to the cross-platform cause. And other honourable mention goes to Iikka Vehkalahti of YLE in Finland who pronounced himself dedicated to web-only documentary in great quantities.

Our own people were energetic on cross-platforming too - Tabitha Jackson from More 4 spoke about FourDocs of course, and Greg Sanderson from Storyville told everyone how loved the iPlayer is, plus hinted that something exciting was happening in 6 months. That BBC - what will they do next, eh?

Simon Kilmurry from POV rightly pointed to how many great docs they have online, as did Stephen Segaller from Wide Angle, who also use docs for great educational purpose

Meanwhile those dragging their feet were the German channels like ARD and the German ARTE departments, who regretted that by broadcasting law in Germany, online material could only be supportive/extras rather than standalone and innovative. They sounded pretty sad about that.

It was a great brief session, and it made me wonder in which cases the cart leads the horses and vice versa (we're the horses here as viewers you see). In some cases, like the Gaza Sderot example above, it's a great creative idea that blasts all the doors open, but with something like the iPlayer, amazing as it is, it's a great bit of kit that's I suppose quality-neutral.

I'm really hungry for the great cross-platform ideas - or actually ideas that work brilliantly on the single platform of internet. It's really exciting to hear European and international commissioners get so fired up by the artistic potential of web documentary, and not just be into it for being another tentacle to wave about. And it's also exciting that it's all so divergent and anarchic in terms of what stage different territories are at. Even after a few years of rhetoric, it's still a very brave and exciting new world for even the toppermost commissioners.

Have your say on rights clearance

By Charlie Phillips 20 November, 2008

Anyone who came to the legal sessions at Doc/Fest will be aware that getting clearances for using archive, music, et al in your documentary is an absolute minefield in the UK, and indeed the whole of Europe.

We don't have 'Fair Use' and the areas involved are misty grey and confusing. So it's really exciting that we just got word from the Centre For Social Media that they're wanting to get documentary filmmakers to consult on the European Commission’s Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy

This Green Paper solicits information from creator communities, for the first time, on the critically important limitations and exceptions to owners’ monopoly rights in copyright law. These limitations and exceptions provide the breathing room for new creators to make new culture using some elements of existing culture.

Documentary filmmakers have long depended upon exceptions and limitations in order to make their work, so it's really important that you feed into this and make sure that doc filmmakers are included in the proposed exceptions to copyright law for all of you, and that these exceptions have a really wide scope.

Don't say you weren't warned next time you come up against the nasty forest of copyright. So what you need to do is read through the PDF linked above and then send your comments to this address - doesn't need to be a big long spiel, just tell them why this is so crucial to documentary people.

And then let us know what you've said, along with the people at CSM - and we'll see what comes of it!

Going to IDFA? Go to this...

By Charlie Phillips 20 November, 2008

So me and the man Hussain will be at IDFA next week - a festival where we're not responsible for everything, what a breath of fresh air!

If you'd like to say hello to us, then you know where we are, just mail to call. We're friendly fellows.

And you will definitely be able to catch me, if not that programmer chap, at the EDN bottle party which is big fun for all. See you there?

Margaret's Myths Diary

By Charlie Phillips 19 November, 2008

A lot of my favourite blogs have gone a bit Oscars-loopy. I don't really get it. But anyway, I'm a curmudgeon.

But putting that aside, look at this report from Margaret Brown - she of Order of Myths fame - on trying new distribution strategies through going to loads of festivals.

We can't wait to see what she says about Doc/Fest - she did win the Youth Jury award so we're hoping it's nice.

Win £5k on FourDocs

By Charlie Phillips 18 November, 2008

A word from Becca down the documentary road at FourDocs on a great competition they got going on...

Pitch your doc film online by 28th Nov and the winner gets £5k to buy any camera they want

FourDocs linked up with Passat earlier this year, who provided a fantastic camera to Eva Weber, for her winning film Solitary Life of Cranes in the FourDocs Short Film Competition at BritDoc this year. They also want to support another visionary director, and are offering £5k of camera equipment to the person with the best online pitch for a documentary film.

You need to submit a visual clip up to 3 minutes which gives us an idea of the longer film you want to make. You can make something like a taster tape, introducing a character or scene, or you can do a photo montage and explain the story, make a mood board or animate a few key moments against a soundtrack. Just imagine that this is the only means you have available to communicate what you want to do - the kind of film you are hoping to make and what it might look like, so don't stick with talking heads!

You can pitch ANY KIND OF DOCUMENTARY FILM, any style, any subject matter, set in any country. It must somehow be connected to the theme of 'Beautifully Engineered' though, and entries must be in by 6pm 28th November. The winner will get £5k to spend on any camera they want. More info here and here

Oscar short list announced

By Hussain Currimbhoy 18 November, 2008

After the election party dies down, the Oscar party at our place is already warming up.

The Oscar short list has been announced over night. Check out the selection:

At the Death House Door by Steve James and Peter Gilbert
The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) by Ellen Kuras and Thavi Phrasavath
Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh by Roberta Grossman
Encounters at the End of the World by Werner Herzog
Fuel by Joshua Tickell
The Garden by Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts by Scott Hicks
I.O.U.S.A. By Patrick Reardon
In a Dream by Jeremiah Zagar
Made in America by Stacy Peralta
Man on Wire by James Marsh
Pray the Devil Back to Hell by Virginia Reticker
Standard Operating Procedure by Errol Morris
They Killed Sister Dorothy by Daniel Junge
Trouble the Water by Carl Deal

Really great to see British director James Marsh and his unforgettable ‘Man On Wire’ (but not surprising at all) on the short list. My money is on this one to win.

This was a Doc/Fest selection of course, but also really proud to that long term projects ‘The Betrayal’ and ‘In A Dream’ are recognised for their imagery and for being truly cinematic documentaries. ‘IOUSA’ also featured in our selection and is right on the money when it comes to American global melt down.

Though I must say I’m disappointed that ‘Thriller In Manilla’ didn’t get a mention out there or Ross McElwee’s ‘In Paraguay’. After a change in the Oscar’s eligibility rule book on what makes a doc ‘allowed’ in things seem to be harder for doc’s to get a look in. So films like ‘Stranded’ are left out, sadly, leaving the selection very American.

David Schisgall on Doc/Fest, The Fallen, more pics

By Charlie Phillips 17 November, 2008

One of the true highlights of the festival was David Schisgall's sensitively-shocking Very Young Girls and we were also delighted to have him and his team pitching a new project in the Meetmarket.

Now you can read David's thoughts about Doc/Fest on All These Wonderful Things. We aim to please, Mr Schisgall, thank you for those words. We particularly like the lines "The parties were typically British - a low emphasis on food with a correspondingly high emphasis on booze, with expected results." Good old Blighty, rule Britannia!

In other news, did you see The Fallen on the TV this weekend? If you didn't know, it won the Audience Award at Doc/Fest this year, which is so exciting for us - a 3 hour doc about the war dead isn't an easy watch, but Morgan Matthews is a special filmmaker and made this film continuously relevant rather than mawkish or alienating. I'm probably one of the most anti-Army people you could meet, but this doc turned my head a lot - the dead weren't portrayed as faceless 'heroes' but as people who lead valued and amazing family lives, and the point isn't that they died for any debatable political purpose but simply that they died, and left a horrible emotional legacy for those left behind. Truly wonderful documentary-making.

And you can see it here so stop what you're doing and watch it.

And finally for now, wondering what MeetMarket looks like? There's lots of new photos starting here on Flickr. And if you search carefully you can find a really horrible picture of me at one of the parties too.

Doc/Fest Trailer - it's good

By Charlie Phillips 14 November, 2008

So if you didn't see it before the films at the festival, here for your pleasure is the festival trailer. Isn't it good?

And before I sign off, we're chuffed to see ourselves in Indiewire here.

Live from CPH:DOX in Denmark

By Hussain Currimbhoy 13 November, 2008

Writing to you live from Copenhagen's CPH:DOX film festival - a city that has totally caught me off guard! This city of charisma and subtly is like the love child of Stockholm and Amsterdam after a drunken night together. CPH:DOX is a brilliant festival, but we already knew that. 160 docs, 10 concerts art exhibits and seminars make for a non-stop ten days of doc-talk and a good view of a very active filmmaking culture. Even the cab driver has an opinion on docs.

Michael Noer's 'The Wild Hearts' premiered last night followed by a rather raucous party in Copenhagen's ex-slaughterhouse district where we were surrounded by scooters and people climbing over each other in an effort to dance - literally. Though this was part homage to the film and part injections of Tuborg directly into the body. 'The Wild Hearts' is the second doc i've seen by Noer after the rather brilliant cyber-linked and cyber-cast 'Vesterbro'. This is a crazy, all-out testosterone driven doc that makes Jackass look like Diff'rent Strokes.

Jonathan Caouette's masterclass today, 'How to make a film for five hundred bucks' was excellent - though I still don't know how to make a doc for the price of a airfare to New York. Caouette and the aforementioned Noer are having a Youtube duel tonight that I must run to. This is a first for me! Though I imagine its like an iPod match, only the loudest applause wins.

Filipino doc-bending/drama perving auteur Khavn is here with Squatterpunk and The Muzzled Horse Of An Engineer In Search Of Mechanical Saddles (the still of two horses fornicating in the catalogue drew my attention, as does most anything with a horse in it these days thanks to Doc/Fest!). Its well worth a viewing if you don't know Khavn's films - even though he makes a few films a year this is one of his best.

I'm really keen on Burma VJs by Andreas Ostergaard (director of the classic Tintin et Moi). Its the best non-reportage investigation into the Burmese regime that I've seen on film yet. No doubt you'll be hearing a lot about this one. Also dying to see Birdsong by Albert Serra this Sunday - its being touted as 'Pasolini meets Werner Herzog in the story about the three kings'. What more could you ask for?

The thing most of us are excited about is the Patti Smith concert tomorrow night! I know she's suddenly about to make a whole bunch of new fans.

Stay tuned for the winners of the CPH:DOX awards tomorrow!

Klein Speech, Permissions Culture - More reaction

By Charlie Phillips 13 November, 2008

Few of you are asking when we'll be putting the films of the sessions online. Patience, patience, they're coming. But for now, get a bit more up to date with a full transcript of Richard Klein's keynote (complete with a photo of him that's a little unflattering!), which I'm told was an amazing event, a Guardian Review of the Theatrical Docs RIP panel, and Aggie V's analysis of James Boyle's analysis of our unfair and punishing UK copyright laws. Change them now!

And finally for now, courtesy of the Pixelwitch, here's our expert-skating festival director with DA Penne and Hegedus, all giving good face...