The Advocates

Chosen for their work in raising the profile of docs and bringing them to new audiences
December 1, 2002

Chris Haws

From November 2001 to October 2002, Chris Haws built a few much needed bridges. The former senior VP for Discovery Networks International was hired as a special consultant to the Creative Industries Initiative at the World Bank with a mandate to foster connections – between the World Bank and the international documentary community, as well as between the audio-visual communities of the developing and developed worlds. Although it was only a one-year stint, Haws laid the groundwork for future collaborations, ideally ones that will bring new stories of global importance to a widespread audience.

One of his first initiatives was a coproduction that involved National Geographic International, National Geographic Canada and Alliance Atlantis-owned Café Productions in London, U.K. They worked together on a program called Battle for the Planet, about how much progress has been made on such issues as overpopulation and the 20-year cumulative effect of greenhouse gases. The documentary aired on National Geographic around the time of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from September 2 to 11), and represented one of the World Bank’s first major documentary collaborations.

Also in time for the World Summit, Haws wrote and produced 15 vignettes that were used as interstitials by various broadcasters. The short pieces – 30 seconds or one minute in length each – covered topics such as biodiversity and population growth, and now live on the World Bank website.

In addition to identifying media opportunities to World Bank staffers, Haws devoted a significant chunk of his time to seeking ways to support doc-makers in developing countries. He recognized that territories such as southern Africa and parts of Asia have loads of potential, but lack production infrastructure. Haws is hoping to continue this work on an ad hoc basis for the bank.

Reflecting on his year-long gig, Haws acknowledges the learning curve was steep – ‘like being back at university.’ Based on his accomplishments, he was an ‘A’ student. SZ

Amy Hardie

Reports are frequently issued – by governments, NGOs, educational institutions and countless others. They examine issues and make recommendations, but too often nothing gets done. Amy Hardie, however, is not content to see her report – Docspace – get shelved.

Docspace is a 59-page year-long examination that contends there is an under-served theater-going audience for docs. After her report was released in March, Hardie formed a committee comprising producers, directors, commissioning editors and others to design a pilot project to test Docspace‘s conclusions. (Though Hardie concentrated her research on the U.K., the report’s findings – for example, that docs need time for word of mouth to build – could apply to any market.)

In August, the committee launched the pilot at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Hardie and Co. were subsequently invited to present their findings at Sundance in January 2003. RealScreen bets that’s just the beginning. DW


To say the people at Sundance were busy in 2002 making good on founder Robert Redford’s promise to popularize docs is an understatement.

Over the year, the highlights were many and affected every aspect of the doc-making process, from securing seed money to getting venues for finished work. The Sundance International Doc Fund handed out a US$1.5 million annual disbursement. Plans for the cable-cast Sundance Doc Channel were announced. A doc strand for the Sundance Channel, called ‘DOCday’, was unveiled with a March 2003 launch date. Festival organizers opened the World Cinema program to non-fiction entries. And, doc-specific festival ticket packages were unwrapped for the first time in the fall.

Looking ahead to 2003, Diane Weyermann, director of the Beverly Hills, U.S.-based Sundance Documentary Program, promises, ‘We will continue to work domestically and internationally to support docs.’ Sundance, it’s a pleasure to cover your work. MS

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.