Following our series of Bridging the Gap alums, we'd like to introduce you to previous participants of our Interdoc Scotland workshops, starting with Karen Guthrie.
Karen is a freelance artist and filmmaker who came out of Edinburgh College of Art and is now working on independently generated and commissioned projects. From time to time she gives lectures and professional development workshops within educational contexts, having lectured in Fine Art extensively over the last 15 years.
Karen’s first feature doc was co-directed with Nina Pope: Bata-ville: We are Not Afraid of the Future, a left-field road movie which premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2005. Their latest film Jaywick Escapes, which is a portrait of the people of Britain's most deprived place premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2012. Karen was selected for Interdoc Scotland in 2012 with her solo directorial début under a working title What About Dad? Hear what she has to say about her experience:
This year we added a short course lead by Sandra Whipham (London Fields Pictures) to our selection of offerings to Scottish producers and filmmakers. 2x 2 days (April & September) on what to consider in order to get your films ready for the international market and the role of a producer in shaping the strategies for a film.
Have you ever thought about how many roles we take on as producers? We need to be creative and nurturing, counsellors and confidantes, we need to know some technical stuff and not shy away from accounting, marketing and legal contracts. Maybe "Jongleur" would be a better description. And of course we need to accept sometimes that we're "the boss" technically, and literally, and not worry about being unpopular. In fact if you like being popular, perhaps it's not the right career choice.
Pitching workshops can be a bit brutal. They ask you to distill your film into a sentence or paragraph and sometimes simplify your film a bit too much. Focus is good, but you do need some unknowns to keep the mystery of the filmmaking process alive, and the urge to find out more.
Our commissioned Bridging the Gap filmmakers were relieved when they realised that the directing workshop with Mike Palmieri and Donal Mosher (October Country) was not about finding the great one liner, but going deeper into the heart of their films, uncovering what makes a character great, what made the filmmakers interested in them, and how to get most from them. It was an intense two days in which Mike and Donal gave themselves whole-heartedly to the films and filmmakers. Often it's not about discussing camera technique, or 'knowledge', but what you bring to the table as a person with life experience beyond your identity as a filmmaker.
SDI has been running very successful workshops in creative documentary storytelling from Edinburgh for the last seven years, however when we were invited by the British Council and the Bangladesh Documentary Council to train 16 inexperienced filmmakers and make four films in six days – that was definitely a challenge not to be turned down!
Many of us still go on assuming that creative documentary means “sleek aesthetics attached to an interesting topic.” The type of workshops we run focus on the effective and creative structuring of a story in order to engage an audience.
We arrived in Dhaka via Dubai and after a shower we met our group (14 men and two women) as well as few local documentary filmmakers that same afternoon. We started the workshop by screening the Oscar nominated film Burma VJ. It was very moving to see our new audience glued to the film. Burma shares a border with Bangladesh.