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My guest this week is Jo Duncombe, whose CV as you will shortly find out is a bit ridiculous.
She is currently Shorts Programme Manager at the British Council, and continues to curate and consult at Bird’s Eye View – championing new cinema created by women with nationwide touring programmes. Previous roles include being a film programmer at the Independent Cinema Office, as well as Programme Director at the London Short Film Festival.
In 2015, Jo co-founded The Quarter Club – a network for women working in the creative industries – where she curates quarterly Salons with her best mate Saskia. Jo has worked as an impact release strategist and fundraiser on documentaries including A Syrian Love Story and Even When I Fall.
Jo and I chat about her various roles across these organisation, as well as what living on a boat is like and her very cool side hustle.
I’m a bit in awe of Jo, and how much she does, and I’ve known about her work – at least on a surface level – for a good few years, so it was a real pleasure to dig deeper and hear about how she got into programming. Jo is completely lovely and I hope you enjoy our conversation.
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This week I have a very special bonus minisode to share with you. Applications for the 2019 edition of iFeatures are currently open until 9am on Friday 29 March 2019, so Jude Lister, Creative England’s Film Project Manager came on the podcast to talk about the evolution of IFeatures and what they look for in an application.
Jude manages programmes for new and emerging UK film talent, including the professional development strand of low budget feature filmmaking scheme iFeatures and the short film initiative shortFLIX, aimed at young people aged 18-25. Prior to joining Creative England she worked for Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol. Jude has also run international filmmaking workshops, screening programmes and short film competitions for NISI MASA – European Network of Young Cinema, as well as editing ‘zines covering film festivals all over the world.
If you’re looking to apply to the scheme, which has incubated and invested in films such as Apostasy, Lad Macbeth, God’s own Country, The Levelling, The Goob, Adult Life Skills and Pin Cushion then I definitely recommend you give this a listen.
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The podcast is officially in its double digits, which is mad but exciting. They grow up so fast don’t they?
And for this episode, I’ve got a wonderful guest in the form of Loran Dunn. Loran is a BFI Vision Award winning producer with a background in production on BBC Dramas, independent features and major music promos and is also an Associate Lecturer in Filmmaking at Manchester Metropolitan University, a Development Mentor at Channel 4’s Random Acts North, and a Producer for Shortflix – which we come to discuss.
Loran’s first feature film as a producer was A Deal With the Universe, an autobiographical documentary from transgender filmmaker Jason Barker telling the story of a very different kind of pregnancy, through the lens of personal archives and home video diaries. The film had its world premiere on March 26 at the 2018 BFI Flare Festival.
I really loved our conversation because we got into the nitty gritty of producing, like how you create a budget, what pitching your project is like, the public funding landscape and how Loran actually makes a living. We also talked about grander concepts like revolutionising and diversifying the industry, as well as empowering young people to make their own work and being yourself.
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So for this week’s episode, I did my first out of office recording and went to the lovely Film London offices in Finsbury Park for a causerie with Jordan McGarry. I have to say all my guests so far have been big wins for me, and Jordan continues that trend. I think she’s a force in the industry and to have lured her away from a very important job for an hour to talk about mentors, music videos and making short films was sheer heaven.
Jordan is responsible for Film London’s production and talent development strategy, as well its range of training initiatives.Before Film London, she spent five years as Director of Curation at Vimeo, leading the team that programmed the site’s illustrious Staff Picks channel for a monthly audience of 200m visitors. Jordan had also paid her dues as a journalist, in festival programming, video commissioning and as an executive producer at Partizan London.
Spoiler alert my favourite part of the chat is when we talk about cultivating relationships as the key to achieving a fulfilling career and just getting out in the world and being interested.
This was a supremely brilliant chat. Do forgive the occasional kitchen sink clinking and background chatter. Frankly I included it on purpose to convey the vibrant ambience of Film London’s office.
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This week, I’ve got another glorious guest in the form of Beccy Ashdown. I first came across Beccy and the work that she does at Together Films at the Open City Documentary Festival in 2017, where Beccy spoke about social change and the role or responsibility of documentary filmmakers within that. I knew then that she occupied a very unique position in the industry, as someone that straddles the world of film but also politics and non for profits and as someone that can speak to changing models or approaches to distribution.
Beccy is Campaign Director at Together Films, a marketing and distribution agency that offer bespoke solutions and strategies for films looking to reach a particular audience, particularly in the realm of issues or topics that have the ability to spark conversation and positive change.
So I was absolutely thrilled when Beccy agreed to come on the pod and it came as no surprise that there was lots to talk about. Beccy has had an incredible and varied career, working for the likes of BBC, Amnesty, BFI and TIFF and I think she’s testament to the idea that just because you don’t start out in the field you have an interest in, or can even identify that field doesn’t mean you can’t navigate and learn your way into a fulfilling career.
Frankly I felt very fulfilled and seen by this chat. We spoke about working freelance, but not putting the free into freelance, approaching people you admire (including that time Beccy wrote to Louis Theroux) and having a network of friends that can champion you to you.
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Starting her career assisting directors and producing shorts in Australia, Emma returned to London where she worked for the BFI and Film London, as well as producing commercials, music videos and shorts, including Oysters which was commissioned as part of London Calling Plus in 2016.
Emma has previously taken part in the Edinburgh International Film Festival Talent Lab and the Mini Meet Market at DocFest, and was selected for this year’s Birds Eye View Filmonomics scheme. As well as producing her own projects she also works on film and drama projects for the Wellcome Trust, bringing writers, researchers and ideas together.
In this episode, we talk about producing her first feature, Mari, which premiered at the 2018 London Film Festival, the mantra she uses to keep things in perspective, how she overcame on-set obstacles, the differences between a producer and an exec producer credit and why you should send difficult emails before lunch!