All about creative documentary

  • Creative Distribution: Connect and Affect

    Posted by · November 10, 2015 5:22 PM

    Last week we launched Make Your Market, a brand new initiative that offers training and development for emerging PMDs who will work alongside Producers to develop Marketing and Distribution strategies for new films. SDI Producer Sonja Henrici reflects on her own experiences of working with a PMD.

    Almost five years ago, we embarked on our Virtuous Circle project, investigating new business models and new roles in the film industry, in particular, the “PMD” - Producer of Marketing and Distribution (coined by Jon Reiss). We wanted to find out what impact this role would have on our slate of features and what we could learn about technology, digital tools, and the cutting edge of audience engagement, marketing and distribution.

    We learned and tried out a lot of tools and strategies. We distributed I Am Breathing, Future My Love and Stem Cell Revolutions in different ways. But of course you also learn about yourself and the part you can play in this “industry” of ours.

    You realise that we all make way too many films.

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  • The Forecaster: Days away from Economic Collapse?

    Posted by · September 28, 2015 11:08 AM

    Every week it would seem at least one new major economical scandal hits the headlines. Last week it was Volkswagen’s rigging its pollution tests. Writing for his Smoke and Mirrors blog, George Monbiot described the scandal as:

    “a classic example of externalisation: the dumping of costs that businesses should carry onto other people. The air that should have been filtered by its engines is filtered by our lungs instead. We have become the scrubbing devices it failed to install.”

    Here Monbiot points out that pollution became a physical manifestation of corruption. But how many more frauds go unnoticed while still infesting our lives, justified in the name of ‘economy’?

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  • Resilience: Applying to Bridging the Gap

    Posted by · September 21, 2015 3:54 PM

    The call for applications to Bridging the Gap has opened once again. We asked last year's successful participants to share their thoughts on what might help you get your proposal shortlisted this year. Theresa Moerman Ib (The Third Dad), Callum Rice (Mining Poems or Odes), Scott Calonico (The Banana Republic) and Alberto Iordanov (Bubo's Limbo) all completed short documentaries as part of last year's Bridging the Gap: Resilience. Here's their advice:


    I submitted a dull two-page Word document in Times New Roman font with no images to Bridging the Gap. It looked more like a job application than a documentary proposal. Looking back, I'm a bit surprised it got shortlisted at all! So there's no magic formula for writing a successful proposal, but what I did have was a solid idea for a story, combined with passion and a strong vision. You have to be able to connect with your audience and communicate your idea using language that they can sense both visually and emotionally.

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  • The Democrats

    Posted by · September 15, 2015 11:52 AM

    Over the last 10 years Denmark has produced many great female documentary Directors including Eva Mulvad, Hanna Polak and Phie Ambo. The newest kid on the block, Camilla Nielsson, is currently making waves with her first feature doc The Democrats. I saw the premiere last November at CPH DOX and was completely drawn into this transfixing story. Admittedly on paper it did not read as such, Zimbabwe’s constitutional-reform through grassroots meetings did not sound like the substance of a riveting documentary!

    But thanks to Nielsson’s storytelling talent, her choice of characters and her incredible behind-the-scenes access to her two politicians, it built all the humour and nervous tension you could wish for in a complex and engaging political film.

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  • Bikes vs Cars

    Posted by · September 08, 2015 3:07 PM


    Bikes vs Cars depicts a global crisis that we all deep down know we need to talk about: climate, Earth's resources, cities where the entire surface is consumed by the car. An ever-growing, dirty, noisy traffic chaos. The bike is a great tool for change, but the powerful interests who gain from the private car invest billions each year on lobbying and advertising to protect their business. In the film we meet activists and thinkers who are fighting for better cities, who refuse to stop riding despite the increasing number killed in traffic.


    Director - Fredrik Gertten
    Producer - Margarete Jangård, Erin Kamlert
    Cinematography - Kiki Allegier, Janice D'Avila
    Editor - Benjamin Binderup
    Sound Design - Alexander Thörnqvist
    Music - 
    Florencia Di Concilio
    Production Company - 
    WG Films
    Length - 
    91 Minutes
    Date of Premiere - 2015-03-06
    UK Distribution - Scottish Documentary Institute


    Watch the trailer here.

    Visit the film's website here.

    Book your screening of Bikes vs Cars here.

  • The Forecaster

    Posted by · September 08, 2015 11:09 AM


    Can a computer model predict the world economy? Martin Armstrong, a former US-based trillion dollar financial advisor, developed a computer model based on the number pi and other cyclical theories to predict economic turning points to incredible precision. In the early 80s he established his financial forecasting and advising company Princeton Economics. His forecasts were in great demand worldwide.

    As Armstrong's recognition grew, prominent New York bankers invited him to join "the club" to help them in market manipulation. Martin refused. Later that same year, 1999, the FBI stormed his offices, confiscated his computer model, and accused him of a $3 billion Ponzi scheme. Was it an attempt to silence him and prevent him from initiating a public discourse on the real Ponzi Scheme of debts that the world has been building up for decades?

    Armstrong predicts that a sovereign debt crisis will start to unfold on a global level after October 1st 2015 - a major pi turning point that his computer model forecasted many years ago.

    Watch the trailer here.

    Visit the film's website here.

    Book to host your own screening of The Forecaster here.

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  • Greece: Days of Change

    Posted by · September 08, 2015 10:32 AM


    In a time of recession, three Greeks try to take control of their own destinies. Could this crisis give us an opportunity to re-invent ourselves and our society?

    We follow Giorgos in his search to find the strength to overcome his difficulties and put his life back together after he became homeless. We watch Grigoris move his family from the city in search of a better life. Lastly, we meet Ilias, an influential figure in the activist volunteer group behind the "potato movement" that challenges the commercial foods supply chain, practising solidarity and direct democracy, and making an impact on society as a whole.

    As the economic crisis deepens, Greece is at the forefront of change, and the initiatives implemented there could soon be seen in many other countries. Our protagonists are here to give us courage and strength.


    Director and Producer - Elena Zervopoulou
    Cinematography - Elias Adamis and Elena Zervopoulou
    Editor and Sound Design - Kenan Akkawi
    Music - Drog_A_Tek
    Production Company - One Vibe Films
    Length - 
    78 minutes
    Date of Premiere - 
    UK Distribution - 
    Scottish Documentary Institute


    Watch the trailer here.

    Visit the film's website here.

    Book your screening of Greece: Days of Change here.


  • Director's Gap - Why should we care if women are making films?

    Posted by · September 03, 2015 11:11 AM

    Calls for Scottish Documentary Institute's annual Bridging the Gap initiative are now open with a deadline of October 4th. As this year we are inviting filmmakers to respond to the theme of 'women', Noe Mendelle founder and director of SDI reflects on her own experiences as a female filmmaker.

    I moved to Edinburgh in 2000 with such great expectations. After all I was stepping on the land of Grierson, “the father of documentary.”


    Image: Noe Mendelle filming in Edinburgh, 2014

    Having spent several years as a filmmaker in Sheffield during the heyday of Channel 4’s workshop movement, I expected the same creative buzz in Scotland. Instead I found everyone busy chasing TV commissions and few really engaging with collaborations or better co-productions with the European documentary scene. So many great things were going on around the world; C4 going international, ARTE on the scene, Scandinavian broadcasters, but Scotland, buried under the UK flag, was somehow missing out. Borne out of this frustration, I felt the need to set up the Scottish Documentary Institute to develop a platform to promote creative documentary in and out of Scotland.

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  • Finding Normality in Chaos: Libyan Stories

    Posted by · July 16, 2015 10:20 AM

    In 2012, just three months after the death of Gaddafi, the British Council invited Scottish Documentary Institute to Libya to run workshops with young local filmmakers. 

    At the time Tripoli was ravaged by the revolution but the mood was high and positive. 

    In 2013 we planned to return to the region and run the same workshop in Benghazi. Two days before our arrival, however, the American Ambassador was shot and Benghazi was declared closed to non-Libyans. Rather than cancelling it, the British Council relocated the workshop in Tripoli. The filmmakers, eager to attend, ended up travelling back and forth from Benghazi to Tripoli despite great potential danger to themselves.


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  • Creating a Maieutic Machine - Or the Birthing of Decisions

    Posted by · June 05, 2015 10:08 AM


    adjective; "of or relating to the method used by Socrates of eliciting knowledge in the mind of a person by interrogation and insistence on close and logical reasoning";
    from Greek maieutikós, "skilled in midwifery"

    "The less we know, the more we believe in science," says Paolo Quattrone, Professor of Accounting, Governance and Social Innovation in Edinburgh.

    As an accountant, you'd think he'd be into numbers and science. But as I wrote in part 1 of this Blog series - Numbers Don't Speak for Themselves, he believes numbers need to be injected and interrogated with doubt: through words, pictures, moving image, music. Paolo is searching for a new way to represent the Annual Accounts, the grand narrative of the corporate world.

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