I am currently Marketplace Director for Sheffield Doc/Fest, co-ordinating the MeetMarket, a unique opportunity for filmmakers and digital media producers to present their most innovative and passionate ideas to commissioners, buyers, funders and distributors. I also run all other marketplace activities at Sheffield Doc/Fest, including public pitches, industry meetings, matchmaking and mentoring sessions, and year-round workshops. Before this role, I was the Editor of FourDocs, Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning online documentary channel, and I continue to bring an interactive and cross-platform perspective to Sheffield’s marketplace activities.
In my 5 years at Doc/Fest, MeetMarket has become one of the world’s top 3 events for documentary financing, introducing pitches and conference sessions on new forms of funding and distribution, and leading factual industry thinking on these areas, especially crowdfunding and the integration of digital technology.
I have initiated and carried out a year-round training programme of workshops to train UK-wide producers and directors in how to pitch for, and obtain, international financing, including how to co-produce, how to present your ideas, and how to understand multi-platform rights. These workshops include extensive guides to online and alternative financing and distribution, including crowd-funding, foundation funding, 3rd sector and brand funding, self-distribution, non-theatrical distribution, online distribution, social network marketing, building movements and communities around films, and having social impact.
I advise documentary makers year round on how to develop and present ideas for the best creative and financial impact, helping develop their ideas in order to pitch them to commissioners and other funders, and to have maximum impact in their distribution strategies. I do this job because I really love film, especially documentary, but I know how hard it is for new creative talent to get noticed, especially those from background not well-represented in the film industry. Lots of information is closed off to filmmakers who have a lot of potential, and I fill the role of demystifying the routes to getting films made and out there.
I believe that films can change the world, and so my role was a perfect continuation of studying sociology and politics, a course which included a lot of media studies as well. At university, I was taught good theories on how visual media could change the world, but was also able to take advantage of the university’s film societies, which covered both the screening of adventurous films and the loaning of film-making equipment. So for both theory and practice, my university experience was crucial in making me able to do well in the film industry.
I’m volunteering for Arts Emergency because I think that all kinds of voices should be represented in the arts and culture sectors in the UK, and the only way that we’ll get diverse voices trained and heard is by giving them the chance to learn and flourish at university. I’m also firmly opposed to the Government’s cuts to university funding and imposition of higher fees, and have protested against them, and see volunteering for this amazing programme as part of a counter-reaction to the cuts.