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Insight to IF/Then Southeast Asia Travelling Documentary Masterclass


This past week our team have travelled to 5 different cities in Indonesia including Padang, Malang, Surabaya, Semarang and Ambon, together with the directors of Diary of Cattle , Lidia Afrilita and David Darmadi, for our Travelling Documentary Masterclass. In this session, participants were able to gain detailed information about our IF/Then Southeast Asia program, watch our IF/Then Southeast Asia 2018 Indonesian winners, How Far I'll Go and Diary of Cattle , and participate in a Documentary Masterclass by our past winners, Lidia Afrilita or David Darmadi.

The first part of the Travelling Documentary Masterclass is an in-depth informative session on IF/Then Southeast Asia for potential participants. Below is a summary of what was presented in the session.

Why IF/Then Short Southeast Asia?

Short films are currently on the rise thanks to online digital platforms. It often has the capability to reach a wider range of audience compared to feature length films. However, there are still little incentives being done to create a proper market for short filmmakers to thrive, where many short films are still being requested to be screened for free.

Tribeca Film Institute is working to support short-form filmmakers in the form of mentoring, funding and distribution through the IF/Then program. Tribeca is also pushing to create more diverse voices which is why IF/Then Southeast Asia is created to give a space for Southeast Asian filmmakers to tell their stories to the world.



What kind of projects are eligible for the program?


1. Be an original short documentary with a final duration (TRT) under 30 minutes.
2. Be completed within 6 months of receiving the IF/Then grant.
3. Be factually accurate, follow best practices in documentary ethics, and be designed for the global audience.
4. Be driven by compelling characters, with access to the characters secured.
5. Be presented in English or subtitled in English.
6. Have no prior distribution attached and be able to participate in the IF/Then distribution initiative.
7. Filmmakers have to be passport holders of Southeast Asian nations including Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei and East Timor.



What is being assessed from the proposals?
- Artistic capability
- Storytelling style
- Relevance of topic
- New original perspective
- Financial feasibility
- Global potential

Timeline of the program:
January 6th - March 6th 2020 : Call for projects submission
April 6th 2020 : IF/Then Southeast Asia 2020 participants announcement
June 11th - June 13th 2020 : IF/Then Southeast Asia Development Lab
August 21st - August 28th 2020 : Docs By The Sea Lab & Pitching Forum

Chosen participants and support given:

Total number of projects chosen will be 15;
- Approx. 7 Indonesian projects
- Approx. 8 Southeast Asian projects.

From the workshop held in June, 7 finalists will be given the chance to participate in the lab and the pitching forum of Docs By The Sea in August.



By the end of the pitching forum, top 2 projects will be chosen to receive USD $20,000 production grant, plus a year of mentorship and an opportunity to participate in the IF/Then distribution initiative.

One additional project will also receive support from Al-Jazeera.

The informative session for IF/Then Southeast Asia was followed by screenings of IF/Then Southeast Asia 2018 Indonesian winners: How Far I'll Go (Ucu Agustin, 2019) and Diary of Cattle (2019). Post-screening discussion invited participants to delve deep into every nook and cranny of documentary filmmaking with Lidia Afrilita or David Darmadi, both producers and directors of Diary of Cattle .



We received amazing enthusiasm from the participants who eagerly responded to the issues presented in the films and enquired our speakers about their experience in creating the award-winning film. In addition, the speakers shared their process of receiving production guidance and distribution mentorship as winners of IF/Then Southeast Asia 2018.

Prior to submitting to IF/Then Southeast Asia, David and Lidia had been researching and developing the film for 5 months as they struggled to find fundings to produce the film. There were still very few opportunities for independent documentary filmmakers to receive mentorship or funding in Indonesia—most of the time, the amount was minimal.

Thus, IF/Then program was a complete package for them—it supported them not only to fund their film, but also to develop the story through the mentorship given, and to receive deep insights on building a worldwide distribution strategy for the film. They felt it was an incredible opportunity to produce a documentary in a more professional scheme. Previously, the duo self-funded their own productions with minimum equipment and without proper remuneration to themselves and to the crew involved. Moreover, as opposed to their usual method of sharing their films as a free online content, in the past year they have been able to exhibit and distribute their films strategically with the guidance from experts at Tribeca Film Institute.




At the end of the day, some lucky attending participants received a book on documentary filmmaking— Pemula dalam Film Dokumenter: Gampang-Gampang Susah (Beginner in Documentary Filmmaking: It's Hardly Easy) written by Chandra Tanzil et al—to encourage the initiatives to tell their stories through the production of documentary films (reach out to info@in-docs.org if you also want to order the book) .

For making this Traveling Documentary Masterclass possible, we would like to give our gratitude to the US Embassy in Indonesia and the American Corners in University Muhammadiyah Malang, Universitas Airlangga, UIN Walisongo Semarang, Universitas Andalas, and Universitas Pattimura.