Open Channel Conference 2016

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this week, it’s that telling people you’ve just attended a conference makes them think you’re a lot more professional than you are.

Open Channel’s Generation Next conferences run annually, and provide opportunities for young people to hear from and connect with screen creators who are already established in the industry.

This year’s conference was called Your future, what next?, and as a previous attendee of the Generation Next conferences I was lucky enough to get a discounted ticket. Held at the Docklands Studios, the conference featured a great range of speakers from Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope to Jocelyn Moorhouse and Benjamin Law. It was fantastic to be able to hear from such a wide range of media practitioners, and to be able to learn from them, but it was also quite daunting; a theme of the conference seemed to be ‘you’ve got at least ten more years before you can expect to have a decent job’ . . . eek!


Nonetheless, I enjoyed going, and it was perfect timing during the mid-semester break as it gave me something to do my blog post on! There was more of a focus on fictional content, but there were a few sessions featuring and even dedicated to documentary as well. For example, we heard from Jacob Hickey, a former BBC journalist who’d worked on Immigration Nation and Inside the Firestorm. Another speaker on the same panel was Susie Jones, the factual entertainment development executive at Matchbox Productions.

But in terms of Go Out Into The World And Do Good Things, probably the most interesting speaker was Anna Grieve. Anna is the creator of Big Stories, Small Towns, described on its website as “a unique model of community engagement and participation.” The website is highly interactive, with video material categorised in several different ways (by town, by theme, etc), encouraging the audience to explore the films at their own pace.

It’s a really interesting project for me because this idea of audience participation (as opposed to just subject participation) is something I want to explore with my own project. I’ve been leaning towards having a physical space in which audiences can explore the various elements of my work but it’s interesting to see how it can be done by digital means as well.

Other documentarians at the conference included Nicole Ma (Dances With Ecstasy, Putuparri) and Chris Kamen (Small is Beautiful, and one of my favourite docos, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea). While not all of the documentary filmmakers at the conference had the same explicit focus on interactive documentary as Anna Grieve, of course the relationship between the filmmaker and the subject is always important so it was interesting to hear all their thoughts.



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