Our journey to MIPDoc was an inspiring and informative event, and one we’re very glad we attended. It gave us a real insight into what some of the biggest names in documentary film-making are doing, and what that means for our project as a whole.
A conference dedicated to factual programming, MIPDOC is a fantastic networking opportunity for a great swathe of film-makers, ourselves included. With 700 participants and over 50 countries represented, it was a wonderful opportunity to get noticed… and see how some of the biggest people in the business worked.
Perhaps the highlight of the event was the various talks that MIPDoc runs as part of its schedule. For us, a vital point came across in the event’s keynote speech given by National Geographic’s Tim Pastore. Talking about the overarching ideas that govern their programming, one word jumped out at us: authenticity. In this context it was about taking firm control of your content, focussing on what makes you unique rather than chasing wider trends. ‘The audience will repay you for staying true to your core,’ said Tim: something we wholeheartedly agree with.
These ideas resonate with us on the basis that Zakii is the perfect example of an honest and authentic subject for a documentary film. While he might not always broadcast his true intentions (for cultural reasons, as an example) it is his talent and honesty that has allowed him to be as successful as he has: he follows his own path, even if he can’t always be as candid as he’d hope.
A second idea that chimed with us came from Angela Neillis, Director of Non-Scripted Content at Fremantle Media International. Speaking on the kind of content they look for, Angela mentioned a desire for programming with a global reach and an international vibe. She also noted the importance of ‘human stories:’ in many respects, a broad term. But one that’s also hugely relevant considering that, as human beings, we want to tell stories about people first and foremost. More importantly, our film most definitely has an international vibe: taking in both Zakii’s home in Malaysia and destinations like London, it’s guaranteed to be a brilliantly diverse piece of film-making.
Distribution of the film is still something we’re looking into: we have several avenues we’re considering. But more importantly, after MIPDoc we’re confident that the film we’re making will appeal to a wide range of filmgoers irrespective of how we release it. Especially when the values of massive organisations like National Geographic- of honesty, and following your own path- align with our own.
Above all, we’re striving to put together an honest and authentic look at a man’s life, art and philosophy. Putting that honesty first and foremost means we think it will have a broad appeal, and many different people will get something valuable out of it. MIPDoc showed us that buyers and filmgoers alike want quality programming that puts authenticity first, and it’s something we’re wholly confident we can deliver on. Our next big event is Sheffield Doc/Fest in June, which promises to be a golden opportunity for us: we’ll have much more information on it nearer the time.