Recently I was lucky enough to score a place in the ACCESS@AIDC mentorship programme at the Australian International Documentary Conference. The programme is open to six emerging documentary filmmakers and involves meetings with some of the most successful filmmakers in the industry.
At AIDC 2017, I and the other five Access participants had sessions with Oscar-winning producer John Battsek (One Day in September); the most recent winner of the Best Documentary Oscar, Ezra Edelman (OJ: Made in America); BAFTA-nominated Australian filmmaker Jennifer Peedom (Sherpa); Oscar-nominated producer and Tribeca’s Executive Director Amy Hobby (What Happened, Miss Simone?); head of ABC Indigenous, Kerick Martin (Prison Songs); and the Creative Director of Beach House Pictures, Donovan Chan. All six mentors were incredibly generous with their time and advice, and were all wonderfully humble and friendly to boot.
Encouragingly, one of the main pieces of advice we were given was, in a nutshell, to be a good person. Be honest and have integrity, particularly when it comes to dealing with your documentary’s participants; after all, making a documentary is all about trust, and truth. It was comforting to know that even those at the very top of the industry didn’t get there by being cut-throat types — which is perhaps what one expects in the film industry. They were simply persistent, and believed deeply in the stories they were telling.
Thanks to all the mentors, as well as AIDC and Beach House Pictures, for this great programme.