Here's What You Missed at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015

Guest writer Ben Booth fills us in on Sheffield's Doc/Fest; from passes to volunteering, festival strands to film-makers.


Not heard of Sheffield's Doc/Fest? Here's a rapid-fire summary.

This year Doc/Fest is into its twenty-second year (that's as old as ME!). It has grown into a major International gathering for documentary makers and has major principal sponsors on board such as ITV, BBC, Channel 4, and Sky. They also have major partnerships with twelve organisations including Getty Images and The Guardian.

With all that talent you might expect to find some incredibly interesting films and sessions, and you'd be correct!

Doc/Fest is all powered by the help of hundreds of volunteers and staff, which is where I come in. I have now volunteered here in Sheffield for three years and I've done the same at Leeds International Film Festival for the past two.

Have you ever volunteered at a festival before? No?! Then you are missing out, the fun you can have and the people you can meet make all the long hours on your feet totally worth it and the things you’ll see and do will stay with you forever! Last year I met the last man to ever step on the moon! Who says volunteering doesn't pay?!

The Environmental Award went to How To Change The World. (Photo: Doc/Fest).

I arrived in Sheffield on the second day of the festival, picked up my pass and got going. Sheffield Doc/Fest runs on a slightly different pass system than the other festivals. They have 3 different tiers of tickets; Delegate Ticket (£££), Doc/Lovers Wristband (££) and Single Film Tickets (£).

The Delegate Ticket includes entry into every event in the festival, including all of the famous parties, the sessions and events that run through the week and of course the film screenings. Some events aren’t open to public so the delegate ticket is the best ticket to go for if you want to see everything. You enter Sheffield’s Delegate Centre and pick up your ticket as you would at every festival, but as an added bonus here you get a nice shiny pass with a barcode, your photo, job title and name.

The Doc/Lovers wristband lets you into all of the same screenings as the Delegate level but NO access to anything else, hence the reduced price.

Single tickets are available at the box office (if the delegates and wristband holders haven’t got there first!).

Sheffield is a very varied and interesting festival and, unlike others, it prides itself on featuring some VERY different strands including the Crossover and MeetMarket.

The Crossover Market is now into its third year and is described as 'the place for new, digital and interactive funders and mentors to meet the best new projects'. The carefully selected ideas have been narrowed down from a long list of one hundred to just twenty-six ideas, who take part in one-to-one meetings, with the aim of taking their project further.

Meanwhile, MeetMarket is into its tenth year. This is Sheffield Doc/Fest’s flagship marketplace programme, with the organisers bringing together two-hundred and fifty decision makers including commissioners, editors, distributors, sales agents, funders, mentors and executive producers. It is an open submission process, bringing over five-hundred and fifty submissions from Vimeo before the hard work begins whittling them down into the shortlist.

As always Doc/Fest was a busy few days, with some crazy running around, but with events such as the above for film-makers and viewers alike it is a festival well worth getting involved with!



By Ben Booth. Ben is a guest contributor for Film Intel. You can find out more about him over on Twitter.

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