UK festival Sheffield Doc/Fest is launching a training initiative for aspiring feature documentary producers entitled Future Producer School, and will this year host a record number of pitch opportunities worth £200,000 (US$333,000).
Future Producer School, an intensive three-day workshop, will take place in May and June and include 12 selected emerging producers. Participants will be invited to Doc/Fest for meetings with executive producers, directors and commissioners from around the world, and – following the festival – they will receive one-on-one mentoring from producer Rachel Wexler, who conceived the project.
The seven pitch opportunities include the inaugural BBC Fresh Pitch – Talent Search, in which six doc makers will pitch two- to 10-minute-long films on disability; returning competition Channel 4 First Cut Pitch, where five new directors will pitch three-minute docs for a chance to make an hour-long, post watershed doc for Channel 4; and the launch of Soundology Breakthrough Pitch, which will see five breakthrough filmmakers without industry experience pitch three- to five-minute docs.
Also receiving applicants is The New York Times Op-Docs Pitch, which offers five projects the chance to make a NYTimes.com short with a US$5,000 budget; and the Wellcome Trust Development Awards Pitch, where biomedical science-based ideas will be awarded grants to be developed into well-researched proposals.
The festival will also feature the Mini-MeetMarket, where 30 projects from new documentary filmmakers will be discussed and pitched in a round-table setting, and the Ramillas Sheffield Interactive Fund, in which five projects in the Crossover Market will be pitched at a public event.
“Doc/Fest is committed to closing the gap between emerging docmakers and the needs of an increasingly innovative industry,” said Doc/Fest deputy director Charlie Phillips in a statement. “To this end, we offer year-round training and workshops as well as individualized mentoring, and we’re thrilled to be adding into that mix the Future Producer School, led by Rachel Wexler.