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Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015: Day 2

Posted June 7th, 2015 by Anna Bogutskaya

Mavis! (dir. Jessica Edwards)

A force of nature would be a mildly accurate way to describe Mavis Staples, and does not do her justice. As a teenager, Mavis was fronting The Staples Singers, a family gospel group that provided the soundtrack for the early civil rights movement after being inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Now 75, Mavis is still unstoppable, constantly touring, recording albums and cheekily reminiscing about Bob Dylan.

Cobain: Montage of Heck (dir. Brett Morgen)

imageIt’s intimate, it’s aggressive, it’s punk. Brett Morgen’s carefully constructed journey through Cobain’s personal diaries, home videos and self-recordings shines light into many of the unseen corners of his life. Through lively animation, piercing soundscapes and archive that publicly illuminates both his expression and vulnerability – Cobain: Montage of Heck is a roller coaster your emotions won’t forget.

It’s available on VoD, DVD and Blu-Ray now.

The Circus Dynasty (dir. Anders Riis-Hansen)

imageTwo of the worlds leading circus’ protégés are on their way to joining forces and creating the greatest circus Europe could ever see – but the pressures and expectations of this intimate culture are trying; love and commercial potential are entwined. The Circus Dynasty is a poetic and enchanting snapshot into this way of life, that will leave you feeling endeared. This is no big fat gypsy wedding.

See it on Tuesday 9th June, 8:45pm at The Guardian Screen at Curzon.

How to Change the World (dir. Jerry Rothwell)

image‘The idea was simple: send a boat to bear witness at the scene of the crime.’ Jerry Rothwell’s exploration of the history of Greenpeace is an inspiring journey, taking you through the early and groundbreaking environmental movements of Bob Hunter his tribe of ‘eco-warriors’ from Vancouver, Canada. With tongue-in-cheek psychedelic references and archive that engrains itself into the mind, How to Change the World  is an entertaining and powerful piece. It’ll make you want to leave your day job to become a environmental flower child; a rebel with a cause.

Catch a second screening on Monday 8th June at 9pm, ITN Source Showroom 4.

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015: Day 1

Posted June 6th, 2015 by Anna Bogutskaya

Welcome drinks

To kick off the 22nd Sheffield Doc/Fest, SP took over Tudor Square for our annual welcome drinks reception. The sun was shining, the drinks were kindly sponsored by Pond 5 and there was the sweet scent of pulled pork and baking dough in the air – the perfect setting?

It was great to see founding members and Shooters in the Pub hosts make an appearance, there were so many! It’s so positive to see growth of shooter communities nationally. Also, it’s encouraging to see new people wanting to check us out and learn more about what we do. On that note, what was even more sensational was people actually networking and swapping business cards. These things tend to be super awkward – so to witness that on the first day of Doc/Fest festivities is a win.

If you’re at Sheffield and you’ve clocked us and know who we are – come have a chat, we don’t bite.

The Look of Silence (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer)

Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence was the first opening night event of the fest. A semi-sequel to the acclaimed The Act of Killing, each film works individually and as pair, each narrative working independently of one another and acquiring a deeper meaning when put into context together. Where The Act of Killing focused entirely on the perpetrators, this film is the gut-wrenching confrontation between murderer and survivor. After it’s sensational Doc/Fest reception, The Look of Silence will be hitting UK cinemas on 12 June. Find out more here:


The Greatest Shows on Earth: A Century of Vaudeville, Circuses and Carnivals (dir. Benedikt Erlingsson)

An exquisitely edited archival documentary tracking the history of 19th and 20th century circus performers, music halls, freak shows, variety entertainments and fairgrounds, with a sprawling original score by Georg Holm and Orri Pall Dyrason of Sigur Ros, in collaboration with Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson.

Film of the Month: May’s Winners

Posted June 2nd, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen


The rather lovely Drake Doremus (Like Crazy, Breath In, Spooner) came on as judge in May for Film of the Month.

All top 3 films were, ironically, of a romantic demeanour – and Drake loved each one.

His favourite was a beautiful piece on the probability of finding your soulmate:

“Asks a very simple question in a highly original way. Tightly packed with emotion and honestly. This short exemplifies what a great short can and should be. Makes you think about the question it poses hours after you’ve seen it. Precise, well executed and from the heart!” – Drake Doremus

Not far behind, at all, was this heart melting corker:

Numero three:

Film of the Month: Ondi Timoner

Posted June 1st, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen


Kicking off British summertime Film of the Month is renowned documentarian Ondi Timoner, who most recently directed a documentary on Russell Brand (Brand: A Second Comingwhich opened SXSW Film Festival 2015 to rave reviews.

Ondi is an American film director, producer, editor and entrepreneur. She has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance twice (for her documentaries Dig! and We Live In Public), runs her own production company and is preparing a scripted film on photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

Prepare your films and submit them to the leaderboard before the 20th June to be in the running for her feedback.

Shooters in the Pub plus Q&A with Lisa Gunning

Posted May 27th, 2015 by Xenia

shooters in the pub banner fb

On June 1st we’ll be meeting up for Shooters in the Pub at the Arts Theatre Club, 50 Frith Street, London W1D 4SQ from 6.30pm onwards.

We’ll be talking to Lisa Gunning, (Seven Psychopaths, Fifty Shades of Grey, Nowhere Boy) about how she started her career as a film editor, director and writer. The talk will start at 7.00pm and will be hosted by Shooting People’s co-founder Cath Le Couteur, following this there will be a short Q&A with the usual networking drinks afterwards.


Shooters in the Pub is a free event that takes place in London and at various venues across the UK. It is regularly attended by a mixture of film creatives: actors, writers, directors and more. To find out when your next local Shooters in the Pub meetup will be keep an eye on the Shooting People calendar, or you can join the Shooters in the Pub London Facebook group for regular updates.


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.”