Yen Yau and the DocLabbers catch up on a year so far

At last night's awards, we took time out to celebrate the work of The Grierson Trust DocLab. Here's Yen Yau, the programme leader, summing up the DocLab year so far and a special film from the DocLab team themselves.

Celebrating DocLab

The Grierson Trust seeks out and supports the next generation of documentary filmmakers through its annual DocLab Training and Mentoring Scheme. DocLab prepares new entrants with skills to make them job ready and help turn their passion for factual storytelling into a reality.

With support from the Trust and their partners, trainees access a range of training to help them get that first foot on the job ladder.

This year it feels that we have reached a tipping point as the scheme’s alumni progress in their many different ways. It is wonderful to see how the Trust’s efforts in its outreach work is bearing fruit; and that each and every one of those individuals whom we have been able to support, are doing or on their way, to do what they feel passionate about.

We also reached a milestone in the number of trainees we selected this year from across the UK: representing towns and cities including Blackpool, Corby, Coventry, Gateshead, Glasgow, Ipswich, Liverpool and Swindon.

With our focus on the regions, we are delighted to welcome to our new partners, The Rank Foundation. Jane and I recently attended their annual conference which brought together charities, individuals and organisations which they fund and support from across the UK. We had the opportunity to network, share stories, talk with like-minded individuals, and hear from some truly inspirational speakers.

We left with the clear view that there are strong parallels in our respective work to give voice to those who sometimes struggle to be heard in our society.

The residential training course in Birmingham kicked off the year and we thank Grierson Trustee and BBC Commissioning Editor Tom McDonald for taking time to come and speak with the group, as well as consultant, journalist and producer Carol Nahra. We had another great time attending Sheffield Doc/Fest, which this year saw Mei Leng Yew (2012), on shortlist for The Joseph Rowntree Foundation x Guardian Pitch, and once again many of the group were selected for the Reggie Yates meal for young documentary filmmakers.

A big thanks to sound recordist David Harcombe who gave the trainees a masterclass on the importance of audio on the shoot/edit training weekend last month and thanks go to Shoot/Edit weekend trainer Nicola Prestage and DocLab Residential Trainer, Debbie Aston.

Our association with the BFI Doc Society Fund sees the first of a joint training activity where the 2018 DocLab trainees and the recipients of support from the Fund’s Short Documentary programme attend a half-day of talks and networking opportunities. Our thanks go to speakers from the British Council, Clear Cut Pictures, Docsville, Dogwoof and Lightbox who are giving up their valuable time to deliver sessions about their respective areas of work.

We are indebted to some of the UK’s leading independent factual production companies who support the DocLab scheme with financial support for trainees, placements and mentoring. Blast! Films, Dragonfly, Lightbox, Lion Television, Minnow Films, Pulse Films, Raw TV, Renegade Pictures, Renowned Films, Testimony Films, The Garden, True North, True Vision, Voltage TV and Wall to Wall committed their assistance, with additional support from Blueberry Media Consultants, Clear Cut Pictures and The Kit Room.

But don't just take it from me. Connor Matheson and Mei-Leng Yew, two of our DocLab alumni, have made this film about the scheme. So let's hear from the DocLabbers themselves.

Published: 6 November 2018

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