Thursday, 20 June 2013

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2013

Sheffield Doc/Fest is the first event that I've been to where I've attended as a Delegate instead of working as a volunteer - I'm the other side of the fence this time around. Whilst, in ways, I've missed not being the one volunteering for the event, it's been good to be able to go to the sessions, films and parties and actually have the freedom to pick and choose which ones.

There were 5 Media Professional Studies students that attended the festival from all 3 years - Me (2nd), Lee (1st), Mark (2nd), Chris (3rd) and Colin (3rd).


Wednesday saw the start of our 5 days at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Once we'd arrived and collected our Delegate passes we picked up tickets for the sessions and films we wanted to see, giving us a chance to find out where a few of the venues were and see a bit of Sheffield. On our way between venues, we came across a Scream bar that was offering Delegates 50% off food and discounted drinks throughout the festival - it was soon settled that this was to be where we'd be having lunch everyday! Since we'd just arrived and had all our bags with us, we decided not to attend any films or sessions and instead went to explore the city a bit and begin to get our bearings.

After checking in at the hotel, we all came back out for the BBC Storyville Opening Night After Party.


The festival really started to kick off. I went to 3 sessions as well as seeing a film:

The BBC Interview: Janice Hadlow and Sue Perkins - The Controller of BBC Two talking about her work in documentary.
The Best of BUG: The Evolution of Music Video - Adam Buxton gives a taster of his BFI music video show.
Michael Palin in Conversation with Miranda Sawyer - Michael Palin talks about his work as a travel documentary maker.
Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers (Havana Marking, 2012)
The Best of BUG was an entertaining whistle-stop tour of music videos with Adam Buxton providing a social commentary. This was a really good session that had the audience laughing the whole way through.

Smash and Grab is the best film that I've seen at Sheffield Doc/Fest. The story of a gang of real life diamond thieves was really interesting and definitely one I'd watch again. This film was shown in collaboration with Disaronno so we each got a complementary bottle of Disaronno and the film was followed by a drinks reception with free cocktails - making for a pretty happy bunch of MPS students!


Friday consisted of 2 more sessions, another film and a late night party:

The Channel 4 Sheffield First Cut Pitch - 5 film-makers pitch their idea for an hour long documentary where one would ultimately be chosen to be commissioned.
The Channel 4 Interview: Jay Hunt - The Chief Creative Officer talks about her role at the channel.
Allergy to Originality (Drew Christie, 2012) and The Great Hip Hop Hoax (Jeanie Finlay, 2013) with Q&A
Documentary Campus Party with Guilty Pleasures and Hot Gusset

The Channel 4 pitch wasn't something that I had intended on going to but decided on the day that I would. I was quite surprised to find that I really enjoyed watching a real life pitch and it was a good experience to see. Each of the 5 film-makers had to make a short 3 minute taster of a documentary on a given subject - Dinnertime. At the end of the pitches we got to see the panel vote and, as it resulted in a tie, 2 films got commissioned.

The Great Hip Hop Hoax was a film about lies, deceit and making it big in the music industry. It was quite an incredible story that I found played with your emotions. On the one hand I disliked the characters that the guys had become as the film progressed whereas I felt a kind of empathy towards the real people behind the characters as they looked back on their story.

We all very much had a good time at the Documentary Campus Party and it was a chance for us to meet up with the Film Studies students as well.


What with the party the night before, we'd all had a bit of a late one so took it easy on the Saturday. I went to the Kitchen Sink Collective present 'Happy Shorts' screening which was a collection of clips from various music documentaries. I also used Saturday to spend some time exploring the city of Sheffield itself as I hadn't had too much of an opportunity to venture too far into it.


We had exhausted ourselves by the end of the festival so decided that we didn't really want to see any of the films that were showing. As we'd checked out of the hotel, we had all our bags with us again so really we just wanted to start heading home.

Throughout the festival I managed to shoot some interviews with people who were involved with Sheffield Doc/Fest in various ways as I rather bravely introduced myself to the Festival Director, in order to create a short film.
I really enjoyed being at Sheffield Doc/Fest and it definitely made a change to be a Delegate. I'd like to go again next year but I am yet to decide whether I'd want to attend as a Delegate or work as a volunteer next time around.

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