Making waves

Tara Bradbury
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Women gathering in Halifax for social media conference

Documentary maker Barbara Doran admits working with the Internet is an area she's just started dabbling in, but she hopes to get some pointers during a workshop in Halifax this weekend.

Documentary makers Barbara Doran and Millefiore Clarkes —  one a veteran filmmaker, one a newbie —  will discuss the changing tide of the film industry this weekend at the first Women Making Waves conference in Halifax.

Doran, of St. John’s, and Clarkes, of P.E.I., will host a discussion called “Two Generations, One Goal: Women in Documentary” for participants in film, television and web-based media across Atlantic Canada, about navigating the ever-changing seas of licences, markets and buyers.

Doran is an award-winning producer/director whose work —  including the mini-series “Random Passage,” and films “Love and Savagery” and “Young Triffie’s Been Made Away With” —  has been shown around the world. Her most recent documentary, a profile of Gordon Pinsent, called “Still Rowdy After All These Years” was featured at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival last fall and recently aired as part of Bravo!’s Great Canadian Biographies series.

Clarkes’ documentary “Stalking Love” aired on CBC’s documentary channel and was screened at film festivals across the continent. She has also produced numerous experimental videos and short documentaries, music videos and a documentary web series.

While Clarkes is doing a lot of work on the Internet, Doran admits it’s an area she’s just started dabbling in.

“I have one new media interactive site in development. This is my first foray and my grasp on the subject is not that great,” she said. “I’m interested to see what kind of avenues (Clarkes) is pursuing, and she’s probably interested in hearing from me how I’ve survived the last 30 years through the cutbacks and the shrinking budgets and the lack of venues for documentaries.”

Those three issues are ones that make documentary filmmaking much more challenging today than it was 30 years ago, Doran said. Opportunities for documentaries aren’t as plentiful these days, with broadcasting slots for documentaries drying up and broadcasters cutting their budgets for them. From a broadcaster’s point of view, what draws big audiences, Doran said, are hockey gamers, talent shows and drama series.

“Part of the reason is whether they’re getting the kind of audience they need to justify the cost of making a documentary,” Doran said. “That’s a real challenge for documentary filmmakers, but we do believe there is an audience out there. Quite often, part of our problem is letting people know your film is coming on television. You get one night. They’ll do repeats sometimes, but broadcasters don’t do the kind of promotions for documentaries they do for dramas. That’s where social media can help.”

Hosted by Women in Film and Television- Atlantic (WIFT-AT), the Women Making Waves conference will also offer sessions on working with actors, new media, and the horror genre, among others, as well as panels, film screenings and networking events.

Emmy-winning writer, director and producer Patricia Rozema will participate in discussions and host a workshop.

Women Making Waves is the first annual conference for WIFT-AT, which was established in March 2009 to give women in Atlantic Canada a network and support system.

“Women Making Waves will appeal to industry pros and emerging talents, men and women alike,” said Jan Miller, co-chairwoman of the event, in a written statement. “It’s an incredible opportunity to come together in a spirit of learning, mutual support and celebration.”

                   Twitter: tara_bradbury     

Organizations: CBC

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Halifax, Halifax.Doran

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