The new British doc fest BRITDOC has chosen to focus on being an industry festival, and it got off to a good start
By the time this goes to print, the extensive transcriptions of four of the masterclasses run by BRITDOC between 26 and 28 July will have already been posted on the festival website. All four–“Bad Guys and Good Journalism”, “Beyond Frontiers: Adventures in Co-production”, “I Love Archive”; and “The Avid Editing Masterclass”–make a compelling read, with other transcriptions still to come.
Making the masterclasses available to the broader documentary community is a fine way for a festival team to affirm its intention to play a role in the life of a professional community. Backed by Channel 4’s recently launched British Documentary Film Foundation and supported by More4, the new Oxford-based BRITDOC emerged this summer as a new platform for British documentary talent. At the heart of BRITDOC is the engagement with a certain isolationism of the British market and the commitment to encourage the younger British professionals to develop their projects for the international market.
In this vein, the festival started by tackling the basics through a fun presentation on effective networking, then went on to more burning issues. The emphasis at BRITDOC was on how to fund and circulate documentaries across newly emerging platforms rather than on how to make them.
One of the issues that has constantly confronted the international documentary community is that of the absorption of technological development, influencing not only documentary practice itself but also the relationship of the community with the public sphere. BRITDOC acknowledged the current, changing climate through a debate where participants were invited to discuss the state of the doc in the era of the user-generated content (UGC) in the company of representatives of MySpace and Google Video. Self-distribution, access to special interest groups on community sites, ‘house parties’ and the ability to generate word-of-mouth were tackled alongside other types of opportunities or changes recently forced upon documentary production and distribution. BRITDOC participants also tackled in detail their access to corporate finance, tax breaks and doc funding, fiction-style.
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