Fun at Sheffield!

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Content House attended the Sheffield International Documentary Festival this year as part of the Kenyan delegation sponsored by Docubox (East Africa Documentary Film Fund). We were a large group, 11 filmmakers and 3 Docubox staff, and we learned very quickly the benefits of working as a team – if you were a bit scared of approaching a commissioning editor, you could always recruit a colleague to go with you. It was a very useful trip in learning how the global documentary film market works, including how films go from idea to development, financing and finally distribution.
The set-up of Sheffield DocFest was particularly impressive because the commissioning editors and other decision makers were very accessible. The main pitching event, the MeetMarket (which for the longest time we thought was cheekily named MeatMarket), takes place at the Hubs building, and while you can’t get into the actual room where the MeetMarket is held, you can get into the building and sit at the bar area where decision makers also sit in-between meetings. Since you are both in the same space, all it takes now is to go up to them and ask for five minutes to pitch your project. The decision makers also stay in the same hotel and most evenings could be found in the hotel bar in the lobby. Not that it was time to pitch them while they were having drinks but it was good to get to know them in a more relaxed space.
We had previously setup meetings with decision makers from JustFilms and AlJazeera, but due to the accessibility of the festival and connections from the rest of the delegation we met Channel 4, POV, Women Make Movies, Chicken & Egg Fund, SVT, AJ+, DR and ITV. We also met numerous directors and producers who had all sorts of useful information on how we could bring our projects to fruition.
Sheffield is famous for being the world’s leading digital documentary marketplace and there was a lot to learn about how to build audiences online and how to move beyond linear storytelling in the digital space. We especially enjoyed The Project Factory’s presentation on how to build your entire EPK (Electronic Press) Kit as an app.
There were also some great parties, starting with the South African one – no one throws a party like they do! They fly in a DJ from South African and he plays some amazing Afro Electric music. Serious dancing happened. Radio Film also threw an amazing boat party at the Victoria Quay on the last night. What a great way to end the festival!

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