Wrapping up 2015: Memories are made of these.
Some of the 2015 team look back at an eventful - and life changing - time with Grierson DocLab
"Being a DocLab participant has opened more doors for me than I ever could have imagined when first putting together my application! I have been able to contact commissioners and producers of some of my favourite documentaries and they've given me priceless advice on how to get into the industry. The past year of my life has been unbelievably exciting and it is all because of DocLab. I graduated from university, was able to go straight in to my work experience placement and have been working in documentary TV since. Without DocLab this first step would have been so much more difficult and I wouldn't have known where to start.
"I'm a workshop facilitator with Shake!, a social justice arts and activism collective, and our work is largely centered on arts, media, race and power. We use film and poetry to interrogate ideas from state violence to food systems, and I love it. I'm also a recent graduate studying English Literature at the University of Sussex. Being part of the Grierson Trust's DocLab, and our trip to Sheffield Doc/Fest, were incredible experiences. The chance to pitch to incredible people working in the film industry (and to be told that my pitch has a real chance of getting funded, which I am slowly working on); to go to a huge, diverse range of panels; and, to watch so, so many documentaries whilst being around a great group of people — it was all exciting. It was also really interesting to be in a group with other young people with a passion for documentary, and realise how diverse our actual interests within documentary are. Being part of the alumni network is great, too; the Grierson team aren't kidding when they say they'll be keeping in touch and checking in. I'm looking forward to really getting into making documentaries, and I know the Grierson team will be behind me when I do.
"Throughout our time at Sheffield Doc/Fest we were given tasks. The most daunting was a live pitch. We had to think of an idea for a documentary that we would then pitch to a panel of The Grierson Trust board members: Christopher Hird (Dartmouth Films ) and Mandy Chang (ABC). No big deal then. I delivered a pitch that Christopher Hird said, 'is right up Channel 4's street and I can really see that being on television'. Later on Christopher introduced me to Brian Woods of True Vision who asked about my idea and then asked to meet me for breakfast the next morning to discuss developing the idea with me! I am now in the early stages of development with my documentary. Although terrifying, it is incredibly exciting and without Grierson I would still be thinking that I don't have the confidence to put my ideas forward. Before Grierson I was a trainee teacher forcing teenagers to follow their dreams when I actually wasn't following my own. Grierson made those dreams a reality."
Ben McGeorge Henderson
"From day one the scheme has opened my eyes to a career I never really thought possible. I have met an incredible group of like-minded young documentary fanatics, and realised that I’m not quite as well ‘watched’ as I originally thought. I have also been introduced to some incredible people who have already made a career in TV and film. Their advice and guidance have given me an entirely new framework with which to critically watch documentaries and encouraged me to go out and make my own films."
At DocLab we were encouraged to ask questions and share opinions regardless of their reception. Then at Sheffield Doc/Fest, building upon newfound knowledge, we met existing documentary filmmakers; all of whom were keen to share their experiences on what their initial foray into this industry had entailed. I am now working on a few ideas for short docs and have a placement lined up with the current affairs team at ITV, as I continue to work out the types of stories I want to tell.
Yutsil Hoyo Diaz Martinez
"I learnt better ways of telling people's stories through different styles of making a documentary and everything that it takes to get that story across to a pitching panel or an audience. I've been asked to do Cinematography for a fictional short film, and got offered my first proper Camera Traineeship on a low to mid budget feature, as well as helping someone from the course out colour-grading a promo they've made. So after the course I feel more confident and I feel ready to move on further in my career as a cameraman. I thank The Grierson Trust for that.
Laura Ayesha Northover
"My time with Grierson really meant that the process of how to be the very best in the industry was completely demystified by the close proximity we constantly had to leading figures in the documentary world. Numerous coffee mornings, dinners, events and talks are organised by the lovely Grierson Team (Jane and Yen), which allowed us all to ply industry bods with questions and make fantastic contacts. I also have to mention how lovely it was having the opportunity to socialise with other Grierson Trainees and to make long and lasting friendships. I have been working as a Production Assistant for Pretzel Films and the last documentary I Directed/Produced is currently in Post. So thanks Grierson!
DocLab was a fantastic opportunity to immerse myself in film-making. It's the first serious amount of time I've ever had to solely focus on my own documentary career. My aim is to be an independent documentarian for the next year, funding myself with other part-time work. I hope to build up my shooting and directing skills, with the aim of developing a portfolio I can use to sell myself as a reliable shooter for bigger projects. This second I'm working on a short film about opticians which should be finished shooting by late September.
The impact of being a Grierson Alumni is that I now can call myself a documentary maker. It may sound silly, but the direction and confidence the programme gave me allowed me to take the step from being someone dreaming about making docs to actually having the courage to do it. That came from excellent advice, useful knowledge on how to make it happen, and incredible opportunities that opened doors for me. It's still early days but I feel like I'm on the right career path.
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