While the debate about structured reality negatively impacting documentary may be as old as the hills (or, more specifically, The Hills) in the U.S., with the increasing popularity of programs such as The Only Way is Essex (pictured) in the UK, it’s fertile ground for discussion there. Carol Nahra looks at last week’s BAFTA debate which tackled the subject.
While this year’s edition of the Sheffield Doc/Fest brought some lighter moments to the mix via the UK premiere of Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work and panels delving into factual entertainment, much of the event was dedicated to the ever-evolving business of making and selling docs.
For many years the Sheffield International Documentary Festival was an enjoyable but rather intimate affair, made up of a few hundred delegates who made the journey north from London to review the state of British documentary. In Carol Nahra’s report on this year’s event, she notes how Heather Croall has taken the fest from one which is international by name to one that is international by reputation.
As darkness fell last Thursday, and most Kings College, London students were scurrying away from their classrooms, a decidedly older crowd was moving against the tide and making its way to the Edmund J. Safra Theatre. They had come to hear one of their fellow history alumnae speak about her job: BBC2 Controller Janice Hadlow, discussing the health of history in television.
Coming from the broadcaster known for making factual entertaining, it’s no wonder that Andrew Mackenzie’s kingdom as head of factual entertainment at Channel 4 is such a broad one, commissioning programs as wide ranging as the Bafta-nominated single doc Thriller in Manila to Supernanny. Carol Nahra spoke with Mackenzie about how the department is evolving and what will take up the copious airtime left by Big Brother after its final run next summer.
A former psychologist who made frequent documentary appearances, Andy Glynne has, for the past decade, been working to support emerging documentary filmmakers in London. He founded the Documentary Filmmakers Group (DFG), which trains roughly one thousand filmmakers a year in all aspects of the doc game. He’s also MD of Mosaic Films, DFG’s sister company, and the director of One World Media, which aims to improve the quality and coverage of the developing world in the British media. Carol Nahra spoke with Glynne about independent doc-making in the UK.
Some years ago, I asked Nick Broomfield at a public screening in London about the direction he was heading with the subject matter of his documentaries. Why had he moved from the hard-hitting social documentaries of his early career, into more frivolous, celebrity-driven topics? His reply was, his films mirrored the society we now lived in.
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