DOCNYC has expanded their panel lineups this year and I was excited to see that they were devoting a day to short documentaries: “All About the Short.” I’ve been focusing on short documentaries for a while now in my programming.* I love the short form for its capacity to break new boundaries, to experiment with form, to be able to live outside the art vs. social impact mode that features sometimes get stuck in. So I’m always pleased to see more attention being given to short films, especially if it means there are more opportunities to watch them and ANY opportunity for filmmakers to actually get paid for their work. But the first two panels of the day gave me pause about the state of short non-fiction filmmaking and the market it lives in today: it seems to be all about “content” for websites – there was very little talk about artistic approach (and seemingly little interest from the audience either). I am thrilled that the market is expanding for a form I’ve always championed, but does it have consequences for the form as an artistic endeavor? And is it elitist to be concerned about that? After all, I’m not the one worrying about getting paid.
First up was “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Short Filmmaking But Were Afraid to Ask.” The panel, moderated by Jessica Edwards (short filmmaker, producer and writer of Tell Me Something), included two filmmakers (Heidi Ewing and Lucy Walker) who are known for their feature films but have also made many shorts and two people in producer/acquisitions roles (Adnaan Wasey, POV Digital, and Jeff Seelbach, AJ+). Continue reading