What’s up doc?
Enjoyed the afternoon helping judge a Mediabox/FourDocs short documentaries competition. Also on the panel were Nick Broomfield (The Leader, His Driver & the Driver’s Wife; Kurt & Courtney; Biggie & Tupac), Molly Dineen (Heart of the Angel; The Pick, the Shovel & the Open Road; Geri), Peter Dale – Head of More4, and Patrick Uden (The Apprentice).
Media Box is a DCSF fund to enable 13 to 19 year old disadvantaged young people to use creative media to express their ideas and views, gain new skills and get their voices heard.
The winner was a real stand-out piece but I can’t reveal it right now as the film-maker hasn’t yet been informed. [I’ll come back here and update this once it’s officially announced.]
Nick was very generous in his appraisal of the films, spotting the seeds of talent in the smallest details. Molly was incredibly thorough and assiduous. Patrick chaired with his usual purist standards (thank God there are still some around). Peter also enjoyed the viewings, impressed by the finalists’ get-up&go. He set less store by the presence of narrative than me – he reckons that will come in due course.
I suggested that the briefing should consist simply of two bits of advice:
- tell a story that matters to you
- and that said, for the most part, show – don’t tell
Patrick sets great store on deconstructing other people’s films, especially really good ones.
It was a good fun, good will-filled couple of hours and, of course, a privilege to kick thoughts around with such seasoned documentary makers.
I first came across Nick Broomfield when he was making ‘Driving Me Crazy’ (1988). I was working at Solus Productions, a co-op whose partners included Roger Deakins (Sid & Nancy, The Shawshank Redemption, Brother Where Art Thou, etc.)). Nick knew Roger from the National Film School and wanted him to shoot the film (he didn’t in the end, Robert Levi did). ‘Driving Me Crazy’ is about a film project going tits up – a theme/device Nick has used throughout his career. Hearing some behind-the-scenes stories from a couple of the mentors on the Mediabox competition, it was evident some of the entrants had experienced that sort of documentary trial&tribulation. A film about a neo-nazi about to enter the British army turned into a parody wildlife film on chavs when he pulled out. A young woman’s film about the joy dancing brings her got hijacked by a specialist dance director. That’s the great thing about documentary film-making – the development and production is often a story in itself.