On Monday 15 May 2017, we showcased several short documentaries covering stories from the developing world at Bertha DocHouse in central London. The three films – which covered the challenges faced by Middle Eastern refugees living in China, the story of a transgender rickshaw driver in Rajasthan and the effects of pollution in a town 100 miles outside Beijing – were made by 2016 Production Fund grantees Shanshan Chen, Zita Campbell and Lisa Lin. The screening was followed by a Q&A with two of the filmmakers, who discussed the inspiration for their respective documentaries; the biggest challenges they faced throughout their projects; and the reception to their finished work.
Lisa Lin, who previously worked as a producer on commercial projects, said that her film, Last Breath, was her first documentary as a director. The project gave her the opportunity to develop her own voice and editorial style, which she found helpful in kick-starting her independent filmmaking career.
Shanshan Chen currently works as a producer with the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Living the Chinese Dream was her first project that required shooting for a period of 12 days. Shanshan shared her experiences of problem solving on the go, as well as dealing with the local reception to her film once it had been published online.
The filmmakers also discussed the importance of accurate and fair representation of their subjects; working with contributors in the field; and the onward journey of their films – as well as the experience of shooting on smartphones versus shooting with DSLRs.
The discussion was rounded up with top tips offered to the 2017 Production Fund grantees, and followed by networking drinks.
Our Production Fund gives young filmmakers and journalists the opportunity to cover stories in a developing country. Want funding for your own media project? Find out more about our fund – applications reopen in September.