Otherfield. It’s in tents.
Anyone who believes that documentaries provide the most exciting way of telling stories about the human condition, should know about Otherfield.
While television’s factual output is now dominated by cooking-based game shows, soapy reality and celebrity travelogs, independent filmmakers who want to make work which is in any way challenging or adventurous, are having to find new ways to get their films financed and distributed. It’s a time consuming and mostly unrewarded business, and often feels like a barely sustainable one.
Otherfield exists to find ways to keep the independent documentary alive. Formerly known as Quadrangle, it ran for 4 years in Kent, changed its name to Otherfield, relocated to Suffolk last year, and is now heading to Sussex. With its strap line “the only thing you pitch is your tent”, the aim is to provide respite from the meet markets which dominate other festivals, and to provide an incubation space for new ideas and emerging talents by bringing together the best of the documentary old guard with students and young film makers.
Over a long weekend, makers and lovers of documentary get to hang out together, to watch and argue about great films, and to provoke, console, and inspire one another.
Penny Woolcock, Alan Berliner, Ross McElwee, Hubert Sauper, Luke Holland and Kim Longinotto have all been featured guests at Quadrangle/Otherfield, running screenings with Q&A sessions, and craft workshops in which inspiration flows two ways. The young get to pick the brains of people whose films they have loved (or are maybe just discovering), seasoned campaigners get their cynicism eroded by exposure to the energy and ideas sparking off the next generation.
We've always had ties with several film schools (NFTS, Goldsmiths, and The Met) and are now running regular workshops in London which reach out to those who don't have access to the elite institutions.
Strands at the festival have included:
Lost Gems. Featured guests show specific films which made them want to become film makers.
Works In Progress. Directors are invited to screen unfinished films for feedback from an empathetic but critical audience. George Amponsah, Brian Hill, Sara McCarthy, and Gaya Petrosian are among those who have shown early cuts of films which have gone on to Cinema distribution and/or deals with broadcasters.
Show and Tell. Attendees bring 10 - 15 minute clips for analysis and feedback from established editors.
Symposiums on sources of finance and contracts. Independent film makers now have to spend more time raising the money for a film than they will ever spend shooting and editing it. Then, after years of focussing entirely on a particular story, they are likely to be excluded from any significant participation in whatever profits flow from its exhibition. Otherfield is aligned with DocHeads to explore the ways film makers can get their work financed and keep a roof over their heads.
Therapy workshops. While the best filmmaking comes out of being prepared to think the difficult thought, the obsessive nature needed to pursue and tell untold stories does not come without a cost. These workshops give people a chance to share and discuss the problems they encounter (and sometimes create) in getting films made.
At a time when the documentary form is as threatened as the polar bear, the snow leopard and the white rhino, our ultimate aim is to keep the species alive and kicking.
otherfield - it really is that in tents.