Regional Workshop on Documentary Production-Convincing Audience
Title: CONVINCING PARTICIPANTS TO CONVINCE AUDIENCE
By: Syed Zulkilfi Syed Masir, Consultant
It was a challenging three days workshop. AIBD Regional Workshop on Documentary Production-Convincing Audience, held on 17-19 August had about 124 participants from 16 countries joining the workshop- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Fiji, India, Korea, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. With a time zone difference from the east to the west, most of them logged in from individual face cam/device, while some were placed in training rooms, five to ten people per room facing projected video on big screen.
The participants were mostly producers and directors from both TV and Radio, ranging from highly experienced to those who were just starting out in the field of documentary production, editors, reporters and Heads of training, and everyone had a similar understanding of documentary production.
Opened by Ms Philomena Gnanapragasam, the Director of AIBD, manned by one main coordinator and consultant, Mr Syed Zulkifli Syed Masir, a communication consultant from Malaysia, and joined by Ms Xiao XiaoWai, an award-winning documentary director from CCTV, China and a well experienced executive producer Ms Yanina Barry from United Kingdom with her remote filming experience.
Syed Zul, combined the discipline of advertising, storytelling and academics in his approach for documentary writing, shared with participants the aesthetics of documentary with a skew to specific audience and added film storytelling elements to it. To prove his finding, he made the participants break down the storytelling structure of two recent Oscar winning documentaries, Icarus and My Octopus Teacher. The participants later applied the same theory on their chosen subjects which they presented at the end of the workshop.
Day One was on the Fundamentals, Most Difficult Audience and Arrangement. The class was about triggering mental process before deciding on the research, approach and scripting. Sort of like how to think before writing. It is a systematic work plan seeking for the best method to convince the most difficult audience. If you can convince the person who does not want to be convinced, chances are you are able to convince the majority of your general target audience.
Day Two was on Three Act Structure, a story telling technique which normally applied on fiction film. The session was later joined by Ms Yanina Barry of Remote Filming from United Kingdom. She gave one hour briefing on Workflow for Remote Filming in a Remote Production Live Stream. This production approach may become a necessity especially due to Covid19 restrictions. Travel has become very challenging and unpredictable too. They were lot of questions by participants especially on security and encryption.
Day Three , Ms Xiao XiaoWai , shared her experience in her presentation– A Step Closer To Produce Cinematic-Style Documentary. As a trendsetter, she is the only one in her big CGTN channel that employed cinematic documentary that needed lots of groundwork with meticulous planning and execution. She showed some samples of her award-winning documentaries both in the USA and China. From her video samples, participants could see the context of some topics learned in the workshop, i.e. single minded point of view, documentary modes, invention and 3Cs (credibility, convincing & compelling). Ms Xiao left the workshop with many participants felt inspired.
Group presentations were on the last day. The participants were grouped into seven different teams with interesting names- Equality Voice, Real Life, Life Savers, Jupiter, Reel Makers, Covid Warriors and Agent of Change. Most teams talked about Covid19 but none of the team had similar proposition. One group proposed the topic – Gender Issues At Olympics. By the work done and presented by the participants at the end of the workshop, many have learned/ enlightened with the subject matters taught to them. One participant went on to say that the very first topic had changed his perspective on documentary.
Event was closed by Ms Philomena. While congratulating participants and consultant, she commended that though it was difficult to handle such a big group for a workshop, but the fact that the participants were so vocal and animated during a three-day course, marked the level of success and impact the workshop had been.