Jane McAllister is a Glasgow-based filmmaker whose first film Sporran Makers was produced through Bridging the Gap and nominated for Best Scottish Short Doc award at EIFF in 2009. Her second film, Caretaker for the Lord, made as part of the Screen Academy Scotland Documentary Directing programme at Edinburgh College of Art, got her invited to Full Frame and Tribeca this spring. This is her account.
I forgot my glasses, had flammable shoe dye in my hand luggage by accident and didn't know the address of my hotel in America... but when they finally let me on that plane with an "involuntary upgrade to business class" things just got better and better.
North Carolina stole my heart first. It was warm and green. The hotel had a pool. And as I sauntered up to the festival after a swim, people said Hello Mam, as I passed by. I had sweet waffles and chicken and made friends with documentary film makers. It was the best place to be.Read more
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.Read more
SEVEN SHORT DOCUMENTARIES by talented new directors on the theme of 'Suprise' commissioned by Scottish Documentary Institute in 2010. These films surprise and sometimes uplift us with subjects ranging from a mystery sender who posts objects to fashion designer Paul Smith, to a towering transvestite struggling for acceptance in middle England, to an exploration of 21st Century suburbia in Surprise, Arizona and the portrait of a brutalist architect who will outlive all of his buildings.Read more
Bridging the Gap: 'Shift' projects are...
...drum roll please!Read more
12 ideas will be short-listed on the basis of the proposal and supporting materials. In the following weeks they will be developed through weekend workshops so that they can be pitched to a panel of experts who will commission the final 5 projects in December 2010. The films, delivered by April 2011, are intended for distribution in cinemas and festivals.
Funding schemes and project workshops often seem a little like X Factor for filmmakers. One fellow participant in this year’s Bridging the Gap talked of a friend who had won through to an initiative in which 10 projects were to be funded from 11 workshoppers. Even Simon Cowell might think that brutal. I was told BTG was different, and so it proved.
This was the first of three development weekends before final pitching in March. Chaired by the immensely warm and inspiring documentary guru Peter Symes, each of the 12 in our group introduced their films in a sentence, and then developed them by opening the ideas up to the room.Read more
Benjamin Wigley is an independent filmmaker based in Nottingham. He works primarily in the public sector producing content for organisations such as Save the Children, Oxfam, Wateraid, The Arts Council and the National Trust. Ben’s first production was a film charting his journey to Siberia to visit a religious community of 5,000 people for a celebration of their leader, a man they believe to be the second coming, called ‘In Search of the Vissarion’. Creatively, Ben tries to produce work that is both visually and intellectually stimulating, dealing with themes such as hope, obsession and fate.
The first BTG workshop led by Peter Symes was very insightful, the projects this year are of a very high standard, and you can be certain it will be tough to get selected for the final 7. The projects range from Arizonian old people living under constant threat of a biohazard attack, to a blind photographer.
I'm sure all the members of the workshop will be entrenched with the dreaded question.... " but what is the film?".... Which is thoroughly engrained into my psyche, and is my new boomerang question when developing a pitch.
Amy is a freelance filmmaker, mainly making documentaries. She did a Masters in Directing at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), where she made Kirran and the Hatchmaker. This short documentary about a small boy and his chickens has played at festivals in the UK and abroad, and got selected for the Skillset Trailblazers strand at Edinburgh Film Festival ‘09. Amy also works as a documentary and music camera person, and worked in TV for a few years before going to ECA. Amy’s project for BTG is called Twinset.
So, having been shortlisted in December for Bridging the Gap, the first workshop was this weekend. It was headed up by Peter Symes – old school documentary man from Bristol... very nice. Being greeted by his beaming smile over coffee before we began was an excellent thing.
My film is called "Twinset" and is about a 61 year old transvestite called Jennifer, who lives in Holland-on-Sea in Essex. My best mate Jess met Jennifer a few years ago, when she was working for Marc Isaacs on his film about Frinton. Luckily for us, Jennifer didn't end up in the film... so we went back to see her in October this year and our new film grew feet.