short doc filmmaker

5 reasons to apply for short documentary training

Over the last decade, there has been a huge explosion of online content. With this has come an increased demand for short form documentaries and the filmmakers with the skills and experience to create them.

The Global Short Docs Forum started 4 years ago as a unique and much needed initiative designed to nurture new talent in documentary shorts and connect them with the growing short documentary market. Open to applications from all over the world, 12 filmmakers will be selected to attend a 4-week programme of online workshops, mentoring, and one to one pitches.

Rather than tell you how great the forum is ourselves, we’ve asked last year’s selected filmmakers to share their top reasons for why you should apply to the Global Short Docs Forum!


1. Connect with a global community of like-minded short documentary filmmakers

The Global Short Docs Forum champions new and diverse voices telling international stories. Over an intensive 4-week programme, you will have the invaluable opportunity to connect with a supportive, global community of like-minded short documentary filmmakers, share ideas, develop your projects and form a community that will last well beyond the forum itself.

“What is really interesting about GSDF is there is no competition and we’re not pitted against each other. We help each other get our stories to where they should be and help each other out through the process of the 4-week forum. I think that us coming in with different stories and different perspectives from around the world, really brings us together because we share the same passion for filmmaking, and that really made us bond as a community.
– Jeremy, GSDF 2020 Filmmaker (based in The Philippines)


2. Understand what commissioners are looking for in a short documentary pitch

The online market for short documentaries is evolving rapidly and is very different to the market for feature length docs. Throughout the forum you will work with experienced mentors, trainers, and your peers, to develop your project and pitch. By the end of the 4 weeks, you will understand exactly what commissioners are looking for, ready for the final days of one-to-one meetings with digital platforms.

“Getting to understand how different platforms work, how different commissioning editors think about the story was very valuable for me. Those meetings were like a knock on the door for these platforms. In the space of a few weeks, you by-pass lots of the communication steps that you’d have had to use to get the attention of these commissioning editors.
Joan, GSDF 2020 Filmmaker (based in Kenya)


3. Learn from industry experts in bespoke training workshops

The short documentary is an art form which requires particular skills and training separate to long form documentary. From budgets and funding to story and form, selected filmmakers will take part in a unique 4-week training programme designed specifically for short documentary filmmaking.

“It was really good to have people help me re-centre and refine what it is that I was saying. It was great to be able to talk to people with so much experience, who were able to give really honest opinions about my project.”
– Melanie, GSDF 2020 Filmmaker (based in UK)


4. Receive one-to-one mentoring on your short documentary

There’s nothing quite like one-to-one advice from an experienced mentor. Throughout the Global Short Docs Forum, filmmakers have access to a series of meetings with industry professionals to help further develop your idea, fine tune your pitch and provide invaluable career advice.

“The forum gave me a great platform to develop my ideas and to create a community, which I think is the most important thing going forward. The one-on-one meetings with the mentors were so refreshing and encouraging. I would always leave the meetings even more excited than I was going in. Seeing the genuine enthusiasm that the mentors had about my project and helping me develop it, was just the best feeling.
– Marta, GSDF 2020 Filmmaker (based in Armenia)


5. Develop relationships with leading digital platforms

It is often difficult for filmmakers to connect with the relevant decision makers, as well as understand the style and subject matter they are looking for. Global Short Docs Forum fills this crucial gap in the market, acting as a matchmaker between the relevant commissioners and emerging filmmaking talent.

“It’s not just about pitching, it’s also me knowing them, them knowing me as a filmmaker. It’s more of a relationship rather than just getting something approved. After the forum, I am more confident about the kind of space that short documentaries would have in the world.”
– Prashun, GSDF 2020 Filmmaker (based in India)

Deadline: 22 July 2021

Image: Behind the scenes with Global Short Docs Forum filmmaker, Roxy Rezvany, on her film Wifi Rider. Photo Credit: S Bacon.