Taylor-Mae Atkinson was one of the 2018 Doc/Fest Youth Jurors. Here, Taylor-Mae talks to Film Programme Coordinator Hannah McHaffie about her experience.

Hannah: What opportunities came from being on the Doc/Fest Youth Jury?

Being on the Sheffield Doc/Fest Youth Jury has been an incredible learning experience for me, and successfully opened my eyes to issue all around the world which so often do not receive global recognition. I was able to watch and listen intently as directors and activists alike, discussed their passions and what compels them to make film. Ultimately, being a youth juror granted me access to individuals and events that I would otherwise not have been able to. I was fortunate to pitch my documentary ideas to commissioners at Reggie Yate’s Doc Dinner and have since been having meetings to discuss my vision. My time spent as a Youth Juror from the very beginning of the project, leading all the way to the official festival in June has proved invaluable. I have learnt more about the industry and how it operates in this short space of time, than I ever have from sitting in a classroom or reading from a textbook.

During the Festival I was given the opportunity to speak on two panels, this was an incredible experience interviewing film directors and provoking thought and questions throughout the audience. These open and honest conversations in front of an audience allowed me to speak highly and enthusiastically about all the things important in my own life, from LGBTQ+ politics to coming of age and mental health. As a young QTIPOC creative, who is fearlessly passionate, it was great to be given a platform to discuss such current and important issues.

Hannah: What have you found beneficial about the Youth Jury programme?

Taylor-Mae: I found the combination of different events, including screenings, Q+A’s, VR/AR and roundtable events kept the timetable fresh, eventful and the programme catered to virtually everybody in varying degrees

Hannah: How will Doc/Fest continue to support you and assist you in your next steps?

After talking with the other members of the Youth Jury, I think we all made the decision to make Doc/Fest a part of the rest of our lives (cliché, but so true). The support you have provided to date has been phenomenal, whether that be from organising tickets for us to attend BFI events, to networking with important industry experts (DocHouse) and having meetings with movie moguls at MUBI. I think that being a member of the Youth Jury really reiterates our passion for all things documentary, and it was great to have this recognised and to be a part of the experiences at Doc/Fest.

Hannah: Any Last Thoughts?

Taylor-Mae: The dedication and enthusiasm of everyone who worked tirelessly to put Sheffield Doc/Fest together exuded across the entire six days of the Festival, there passion shone through at every venue.

The entirety of Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018 has been a whirlwind of experiences and opened up a world of opportunities for me as an emerging filmmaker and investigative journalist. It has allowed me to live and breathe documentaries of outstanding quality, entirely submerging myself in the weird, the wonderful and the heart-wrenching. Having this opportunity and being so well-received and guided by industry experts has reinforced my passion for film in every capacity and has given me the push I needed to continue to believe in myself as a young creative. My talent is emerging, and Sheffield Doc/Fest has undoubtedly allowed this to thrive.

Applications for Sheffield Doc/Fest's 2019 Youth Jury are now closed.