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Sixteen Released

Posted May 19th, 2015 by Ben

Delighted to say that Rob Brown’s powerful film Sixteen which premiered at the London Film Festival finally comes out on VOD this week – watch it here: iTunes

Rob started shooting on the same day as Chris and I started Nina Forever so I am more than a little blown away with my admiration for how quickly Rob has got this film out the door. That muscular efficiency is clear in every cut of this lean and compelling film. Rob has also captured a stand-out central performance and uses this as the anchor for a tough but hopeful portrait of a child soldier trying to start a new life.

Shot in three weeks on a micro budget it really is a must see.


My interview with Rob before he shot the film…

#FilmmakersTell: Desiree Akhavan

Posted May 14th, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen

Filmmaking is not a walk in the park, and there are going to be so many milestones along the way where you might despair and feel that all hope is lost…

Writer/Director/Actress Desiree Akhavan released her first feature Appropriate Behaviour this year. We caught up with her briefly about her filmmaking experiences. She told it like it was, with no fluff.

‘Stranger on the Corner’ by ‘The Plastic Dots‘ – check them out on Soundcloud.


Kickstart this: GrassRoots: The Cannabis Revolution

Posted May 11th, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen

Members are doing great things; Dale Beaumont-Brown is crowdfunding to make a documentary on the medicinal use of cannabis. A topical issue which is very much in debate, and their reasons for making it are worth hearing, I think. Anyway, here’s Dale with the rest…

GrassRoots: The Cannabis Revolution, is a feature-length documentary exploring the medicinal use of cannabis, the patients involved & the campaign to change UK law. With unrestricted access to activists/medical cannabis patients, we lift the lid on the people within the UK movement. A subculture of politically driven people who feel they are forced to break the law getting access to the medication needed to treat their varying conditions.

Over the course of 3 years we explore their lives and why they campaign for change. As well as discussing the beneficial properties of cannabis, investigating the UK’s drug laws, and challenging cannabis stigma.

Protestors stage a smoke up outside Parliament

Protestors stage a smoke up outside Parliament

Whilst GrassRoots is a story of the cannabis campaign as a whole, it’s also a personal exploration into one particular activists life. Clark French is a 29 year old campaigner, struggling with multiple sclerosis, personal and familial demons and the battle to get safe access to his medicine; cannabis. He is also my cousin.

Clark French2

Clark French

This is what drove me to telling this story.  I was interested in making a film about cannabis, the illegality shrouding it and the struggle for patients/activists to get it legalised, but most of all I wanted to produce a character study about someone having to deal with life after being dealt a really cruddy hand.

Some challenges & perspectives on making a Cannabis documentary:


Up to now, (we’re running a Kickstarter campaign – more info at bottom of post) it’s been entirely self-funded. Dozens of excursions, hotels, dodgy petrol-station sandwiches, crew, flights to San Francisco, Denver, Amsterdam (twice) & Barcelona (twice). It’s been an uphill battle. Luckily my day job running my media production company in Norwich, UK (Elixir Media Production) means I was able to fund the shooting of GrassRoots with the money accrued from other documentary/corporate shoots.

‘Patience’, not, ‘patients’ –

I’ve been making films & docs for 8 years but this is my first feature-length documentary. So, there’s a point when dealing with social issue docs like this, when you suddenly realise, “right this is going to take years to document, not months!” However, I never really found that a hindrance, more of a motivator.

As a documentary filmmaker one of the most difficult (and deciding of factors) to commit to something for such a long period is getting access to the subject you want to highlight, in this case, the relatively secretive world of cannabis and the activists within it. I stumbled into this completely by mistake.

The Cannpaign - Hyde Park 19.04.2015

The ‘Cannpaign’ – Hyde Park 19.04.2015

My cousin is a prominent and outspoken activist in the ‘canna’ community, having founded several national cannabis reform organisations. This got me into some places normal media were not ordinarily permitted and afforded me a lot of trust that maybe I didn’t deserve.

However at the same time, I was doing a ton of research and kept coming back to the fact that apart from the occasional article or news segment, there simply was not a feature-doc out there exploring the cannabis issue with the sort of access that I was getting. I was not going to squander this opportunity and embroiled myself in the UK’s cannabis movement.

No more war - Hyde Park b&w PNG 19.04.2015

No more war – Hyde Park b&w PNG 19.04.2015

There were also some great moments too that I’m looking forward to seeing on the big screen. I had unrestricted access to a medical marijuana facility in Denver, Colorado right around the time cannabis was going legal for recreational use.

Dale surrounded by Cannabis plants

GrassRoots Producer & Director Dale Beaumont-Brown filming at RiverRock Wellness Medical Marijuana Centre in Denver Colorado

– I had access to River Rock for two full days and filmed EVERYTHING; from seed, to weed.

– An interview amongst 2000 plants (some 12 foot high).

– The trim room, where they trimmed the crop was so large it was a converted bus depot.

– And the dispensary where the patients got access to some 75 ‘top-shelf’ strains, edibles and concentrates.

Dale interviewing Paul Tokin @ River Rock, Denver

Dale interviewing Paul Tokin @ River Rock, Denver

I also fulfilled a bucket list item in the Bay Area by filming at the Golden Gate Bridge… and that’s all I’m going to say about that scene. It’s too epic to spoil!

Dale & Clark at Golden Gate Bridge

Dale & Clark at Golden Gate Bridge’

GrassRoots is as much a film about socio-political injustices as it is passion and dedication. You will be introduced to people committed to fighting against the odds; whilst struggling with ill health & the threat of criminal conviction in the face of societal stigma. Despite this, they fight for something they believe in.

GrassRoots is important because as a socially-conscious feature-documentary, in 25 years’ time people may look back on this and say, “Do you remember when weed was illegal?” Documentary has the power to be a social document and stand the test of time; it is a continually relevant art-form.

GR-Header for website 1 HQ

We are running a Kickstarter campaign to fund vital post-production costs so we can finish GrassRootsIt finishes this Wednesday 13th May @ 23:59pm (UK time).

Thank you; get in touch if you want to ask me anything.

Dale Beaumont-Brown

Twitter . Facebook . Website

What’s On: ‘The Man Who Saved The World’

Posted May 5th, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen


This week (7th May), DocHouse are hosting a special DocHouse Thursday screening of Peter Anthony’s epic cold war ‘thriller’, The Man Who Saved The World.

 “Few people know of Stanislav Petrov… yet hundreds of millions of people are alive because of him.”

1983. The height of the Cold War. Stanislav Petrov is the man with his finger on the button when Russian radars intercept what appear to be five American nuclear missiles heading straight towards Russian soil. With alarm bells ringing and panic spreading, will Petrov fire back and start a nuclear world war, or break protocol and trust instead the gut instinct that tells him it’s a false alarm.

You may never have heard of Petrov, but his actions on 26 September 1983 saved us from World War III, sparing the lives of millions. Yet, decades later we find him a ruined man, forgotten and struggling, his life unravelling around him. When he is unexpectedly invited to New York to speak at the UN, Petrov embarks on a spectacular journey, finally receiving the recognition he deserves and starting to come to terms with the past.

Meeting Damon, De Niro (300dpi)

The Man Who Saved The World (Starring non-other than; Walter Cronkite, Robert De Niro, Matt Damon and Kevin Costner) powerfully combines stunning reconstruction of the past and real-life filming today, expertly interweaving the two into a nerve-tingling cold war thriller and an extraordinary warning to avoid the mistakes of the past.  Director Peter Anthony will join after the screening for a Q&A via Skype.

“I’m not a hero. I was just in the right place at the right time.”– Stanislav Petrov

The Bertha DocHouse screen is the UK’s first cinema dedicated solely to documentary films and events. Housed at the newly renovated Curzon Bloomsbury (formally the Renoir) the 55-seat Bertha DocHouse screen offers a vibrant programme of international cross-genre documentaries, as well as frequent post-screening filmmaker Q&As, panel discussions and events, 7 days a week. DocHouse aim to celebrate the depth and breadth of the documentary form with films from the UK release calendar as well as titles without distribution, festival favourites and a strong range of themed seasons and retrospective screenings. Their flagship DocHouse Thursdays strand continues its special previews and premieres of a finely selected bunch of docs that stand out from the crowd.

We look forward to exploring the world of documentary on offer at London’s new centre for docs and we don’t think there is a film better suited to set you off on your journey.

Book your tickets now and see what else is coming up at Dochouse.

Film of the Month: April’s Winners

Posted May 1st, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen



David Oyelowo judged Film of the Month back in April – it was a close call, but here are his top 3:

First place,

“This is a tender, imaginative and truthful take on the joys and challenges of caring for an impaired loved one. I was surprised and moved.” – David Oyelowo

Director – Mustapha Kseibati

“To have David Oyelowo watch and select Mohammed as film of the month is brilliant! Myself and the rest of the team would like to thank David and Shooting People for giving us a great platform to showcase the film, and hopefully get it seen by more people now”

Numero two…

“Beautifully performed and nicely shot, this film satisfyingly and impressively plumbs deep emotional depths in a very short time. ” – David Oyelowo

Director – Paul Murphy

“Having the opportunity for David Oyelowo to watch and comment on STOP was really important for me. STOP is an actor’s film, it features two powerhouse and very sensitive performances from two award winning actresses. The film rests on the characters, their dilemmas, emotions and choices, so casting two strong leads was vital, and Lisa Kay and Tahirah Sharif played the parts wonderfully. 
Having such an amazingly talented, versitile and subtle actor such as David judge and comment on their performances was very valuable for me and affirming the “beautiful performances” in the film and the “emotional depths” they portray, meant we all did our jobs very well. I’m very happy an A list actor got to watch two A list performances”
Executive Producer – Anton Califano
“Being part of Shooting People’s Film of the Month competition meant a lot to everyone involved in this film, especially to be voted into the final round, and be judged by David Oyelowo. More importantly for David to give feedback on the film is valued very highly indeed, and we really appreciate the time he spent to do this, and the lovely comments he has made. His comments are a big credit to the actors in the film, as well as the team behind the camera.
The film has already won numerous festival awards, but now that it is coming to the end of its festival run, it is great that a short can continue to have a life as part of this competition. Thanks to all the independent filmmakers and actors who voted for it as Shooting People members! This is Paul’s first funded film as a director, and as such was made on a very low budget, made as part of the Eastern Edge Film Fund for Film London’s “London Calling” scheme. It is amazing to see new talent being supported by Hollywood star talent, as well as the independent filmmaking community online!”
And finally, in third place:

“A sweet story about words that may have benefited from less words and a bit more onscreen chemistry.”– David Oyelowo

Director/Writer – Becky Matthews

“Double Word Score was a real labour of love, so it means a lot to have been in the running for Film of the Month, and to receive comments from someone as established as David Oyelowo is a rare opportunity for a first time filmmaker. The cast and crew are very pleased, thanks to everyone who has watched and supported our wee film.”

Film of the Month: Drake Doremus

Posted May 1st, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen


For the month of May, Drake Doremus, is here to stay! (as Film of the Month Judge)

Drake is a highly acclaimed Writer/Director who has premiered more films in Sundance than out of it; however, he is most well known for causing emotional heartbreak to large numbers of people who thought they were turning on a rom-com when they watched his 2011 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Like Crazy.

At age 19, Doremus was the youngest fellow ever accepted at the American Film Institute. This made him part of an elite group of alumni that include Darren Aronofksy, David Lynch, and Terrence Malick. His second feature ‘Spooner’ was met with critical acclaim at Slamdance, and his past three films (Douchebag, Like Crazy, and Breathe In) have been part of the official selection of the Sundance Film Festival. Next up for Doremus is Equals, a futuristic love story, starring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, which he filmed in Japan and Singapore this past year.

Drake has made a name for himself with his stunningly beautiful, emotionally gut wrenching films packed full of tremendous performances (Felicity Jones anyone!). We don’t need a witty sentence to encourage entries.

Entries are open to all Shooting People members until the May 20th. Hurry up and send them in.

Once you have, feel free to catch up on Doremus’ Sundance winning ‘rom-com’. Disclaimer:

Disclaimer: SP assumes no responsibilities for the feels to follow.


Doc Labs: Call for Entries

Posted April 27th, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen


Shooting People and Open City Docs Fest are joining forces to help you get your documentary project off the ground. Doc Labs will give you the opportunity to work with successful crowdfunded documentarians and digital experts to tackle the planning, execution and promotion of the perfect crowdfunding campaign for your project.

We’re looking for both short and feature length non-fiction projects to participate in the first edition of Doc Labs during this year’s Open City Docs Fest (15-21 June). Selected teams will go on to complete the workshop and receive ongoing consultation and support as they develop their project.

Submit a short project proposal together with a brief biography of the filmmaking team and full contact details to  by midnight on 31st May 2015. Proposals should be no longer than 2 pages.

We look forward to hearing your ideas!

Film of the Month: Feb’s Finest

Posted April 21st, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen


BAFTA winning writer Jack Thorne (This is England ’86 ’88 ’90, The Scouting Guide Book for Boys, Skins) came on as Film of the Month judge back in February. His first short was actually crewed through Shooting People, and went to Sundance.

FOTM was definitely feeling the love in February, all top 3 films were romantic(ish)- weaving in quite nicely with Valentines Day..

Jack had some great things to say and members were thrilled with his comments

Taking the lead, was this little Gem:

“A great short that really uses everything at it’s disposal. I loved the use of sound and music to take us into other worlds. Maybe I’m bias as an ex-McDonald’s employee but I found it really touching too – the first of a new genre of fast food romances perhaps. Exceptional lead performance by Thea Beyleveld too – full of intensity and longing, she’s got a real Anne-Marie Duff quality to her.” – Jack
Director/EditorJonathan Schey

Winning Film Of The Month was a fantastic feeling.. To know that someone (other than my mum) loved the film was brilliant. His feedback really showed that he got what Luke and I were going for. Shorts are calling cards and to have Jack Thorne give it his stamp of approval will be a massive help getting my work out there.”

Writer – Luke Barnes

“The reason we make any art is to help revaluate our experience of being human. I feel very privileged to have our film chosen and I’m very pleased that our story about the human condition, that we did in a way that we enjoy, is being recognised by someone of Jacks calibre. Thank you”

Actress – Thea Beyleveld

“This little film, for me, is the gift that keeps on giving. I have Sophie Davies, our wonderful casting director to thank for bringing me on board, and of course Jon and Luke. It was my first short and from the moment I read Luke’s wonderful script I knew it was special. Jack has written some of the work that inspired and drove me to become an actor, the sort of work I hope to make. So to have my work recognised by him with such lovely comments is just the best feeling. Chuffed to bits! Thank you for the platform Shooting People.”

Secondly, Jamie Sim‘s Bus stop:

“A hymn in praise of Woking. Nicely written and shot with a real efficiency. A sort of Before Sunrise for the home counties- and it even allowed itself a happy ending, which I think is quite rare in shorts. Oh, and I now really want to see the War of the Worlds tripod in Woking.” – Jack
Director – Jamie
“A sort of before sunrise of the Home Counties… is going on the poster for sure. It’s defiantly the feel I was going for.” 
And Eric Kolelas with Hold

“I thought this had a lovely tone and sense of place and admired it’s silence, it really had a confidence in what it was trying to say and do.” – Jack
Actor – Eric
“I’m really chuffed to be one of the winners, shooting people is massive community of very talented film professionals and newcommers, and having your work voted for and recognised by that community is amazing. It, in a way, validates all the efforts my cast, crew and I have put in creating ‘Hold’. Also the opportunity to to have someone like Jack Thorne is amazing, I’m really glad he appreciated the tone of my film and what I was trying to do with the silence.”

Guest Blogger: The Guardian

Posted April 17th, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen

Head of Documentaries at The Guardian, Charlie Phillips, has come on board to tell you about their new initiative to commission short documentaries for The Guardian online. Anyway, we’ll let Charlie tell you more…

Documentaries have become very cool recently, have you noticed? A lot of people are writing a lot about this being the Golden Age of Documentaries, and whilst labelling moments like that feels unnecessary to me, it’s certainly true that more people are making brilliant documentaries at the moment than ever before. More importantly, more filmmakers are thinking themselves as documentary-makers.

I want to support that. There’s no shame in it, stand proud and declare yourself someone who wants to make great doc stories and get them seen.

It’s not always easy though. The number of documentary-makers and documentaries made has shot up, but the number of outlets for them hasn’t kept pace, especially if we’re talking curated mass audience platforms. Platforms are restricted to one territory or one thematic focus, or they’ve got tiny (albeit dedicated) audiences, or they’re not focused very well on documentaries, or they don’t give you a sense that someone behind the wheel really want to help you tell your stories, or you don’t feel they’re reaching that mass documentary audience that lives online. You just want to get your docs seen and feel like the platform showcasing it is collaborating with you, and reaching a big audience.

'Muslim Drag Queens: The lubs are busier than ever - commissioned by The Guardian

‘Muslim Drag Queens: The clubs are busier than ever – commissioned by The Guardian

To try and address that, we’ve recently launched our new documentary initiative here at The Guardian, and I want to invite you all to pitch your ideas to us. We want contemporary documentary stories that are told well, told at a pace that online audiences recognise and won’t get distracted from, and we want to support short films that The Guardian audience and a wider online audience will want to click on, watch and share. Our online docs are available in all countries, and it’s a big audience – The Guardian website has millions of visitors every day, and it’s the second most-visited English language newspaper website in the world. We’re open to all your ideas as long as:

-They’re fast in the speed of the telling, and not too repetitive or ponderous

-They’re contemporary not historical

-They’ll feature brilliant storytelling and characters that really pulls you along and leaves you feeling transformed and better informed in 15minutes or less

-They’re relevant globally

-They feel original, untold and rather surprising

-They’ll be led by actuality/action rather than interviews/talking heads

‘Pretty Radical’ -A young woman’s journey into Poland’s far right -commissioned by The Guardian

We want documentary ideas that will work online and pull in an audience hungry for brilliant stories they can click on that tell them something new. Think honestly about what you and the  people you know click on when they’re on social media and what pulls you and them in and why. We don’t want documentaries that are going to only play to a few – we’re looking to build an online doc platform that acts as a beacon with a call for an online audience hungry for information and story.

Don’t think in terms of traditional journalism and don’t think “What’s Guardiany?”. Think “What do all online audience members (i.e. almost everyone in the world!) need to see and know and what will they do after they see it? Who will they share it with?”

To see the kinds of docs I’m talking about check the 11 very varied short docs up on our site right now – some are original short commissions, some are cut downs of longer documentaries, some are work-in-progress or parallel versions of documentaries that will become longer in the future. They represent lots of different parts of the world and a real social mix. But we want more!

Watch them, get inspired, think about what we’re missing, and then pitch me with a one-page proposal and some visual material by email to, or if you’re going to Sheffield Doc/Fest, enter yourself into our pitch opportunity.

Looking forward to hearing from you and collaborating on making a very special online documentary platform for the whole world.

#FilmmakersTell: Orlando von Einsiedel

Posted April 13th, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen

Investigative documentary filmmaking can impose real challenges and risks, especially if you’re taking on one of the biggest oil exploration companies in the world.

Director of the Oscar-nominated documentary Virunga and long-time Shooter, Orlando von Einsiedel, opens up about making a film that really takes a stand. Touching on Netflix distribution, teaming up with Leonardo DiCaprio and his career in filmmaking.

Orlando started off shooting snowboarding videos before delving into documentary filmmaking, tracking down incredibly varied stories across Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Arctic, from skateboarders in Afghanistan to pirates in West Africa.

Serious part over, because this was so brilliant – here’s a little anecdote that you might want to refer to if you ever work with gorillas.

The great track accompanying this series is ‘Stranger on the Corner’ by ‘The Plastic Dots‘ – check them out on Soundcloud.