AIDC: Documentary makers ask the ultimate question

Aidc director Joost Den Hartog told Tracey Prisk that this year’s event will try to answer the most vital question for filmmakers, who’s watching?

Conference director Joost Den Hartog believes that networking is one of the key components of this year’s Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) and as such, he has ensured that it is an essential component of the program.

“It’s a fairly isolated profession, and to meet once a year is a very good thing,” says den Hartog. “Documentary makers are a pretty good bunch and they know how to party when they get together.”

Acknowledgment of the importance of making connections is evident in the program, which includes everything from roundtable sessions, and meet markets to pitching sessions. These initiatives are all designed to get people talking.

According to Den Hartog, the AIDC will consist of two distinct areas: a conference and a marketplace. “The market place is what most of our international broadcast guests are engaged in.

“Here, 60 percent of the guests will be international speakers who will give their perspective on the international market.”

While the AIDC is known for attracting high profile international speakers, den Hartog believes it’s important to remember that it is also an annual celebration of the Australian factual industry. “We do make an effort to feature as many examples of Australian excellence as we can.” The pitching competitions are always popular and over the years, the stakes have become higher as practitioners fight for a piece of the ever decreasing funding pie.

“These (pitching/networking activities) allow people to get feedback on their projects. While the goal might be to get projects financed or cofinanced, if that doesn’t happen people will at least get valuable feedback.”

The roundtables, on the other hand, aren’t projectbased, but they allow practitioners to learn from broadcasters and commissioning editors as to exactly what kind of product they are looking for. The focus here is on the buyer,” says den Hartog. “There is a lot of valuable information that can come from the roundtables.”

This year’s AIDC will no longer include the traditional Docu-mart event, which some delegates considered a conference highlight.

“While it’s been very popular, we feel it’s run its course and got very tired. It’s not working anymore… the format just doesn’t work and there are better ways to showcase product.”


One of the themes of the conference is an exploration of how well factual program makers know their audiences. According to den Hartog, while there are a number of practitioners in this sector who are “very in tune with their audiences”, real success often only comes when they are able to combine their knowledge of what audiences demand with a real passion for the subject mater. “There are a number of people who have a passion to tell a story, and these people sometimes can take this passion to another (unexpected) outlet such as television or new media if they are exposed to these other opportunities.”

One of the key components of this year’s AIDC is an exploration of how factual producers interact with growth markets such as the gaming sector.

“It’s a new market and I haven’t seen too much interaction yet, but I know that there is a natural force which draws games developers and the factual content makers together,” says den Hartog.

“Games developers are starting to work with traditional broadcasters at the same time that documentary makers have been working closely in a new way with broadcasters. There’s a natural force that brings these two groups together in the same space.

“What we’d like to do is work together and find a new consideration for the traditional creative teams.” den Hartog knows of several cases of production teams who are combing traditional media methods of production with new media techniques.

“I’m quite excited about it because it’s the first time in a long time that a new form of content has emerged.” den Hartog hopes that this AIDC will be remembered for its frenetic marketplace activity. He believes AIDC is one of the few events that has a very lively marketplace, and that’s what makes it stand out from other industry conferences.

“This year we will be looking at some very interesting questions about our industry and where this industry will grow; crucial questions that need to be addressed.

“We will be focusing on the notion of audiences, creativity and business opportunities, technology and new ways to technologically and creatively deliver product.”


Who’s Watching? Gather intelligence from national and international experts in the know on who the audience is, how they are accessing factual product, and what their viewing patters really mean.

Serious Gaming and Interactive Content. Aimed to initiate relationships between filmmakers, television producers, games developers, web application designers and investors.

The Art and Craft in Documentary Making. Master classes, workshops and panel discussions to hear from the best editors, cinematographers and sound designers. Meet Market. Allowing filmmakers to meet one-on-one with interested buyers and investors in a supported environment.

Videotheque. Put your completed documentary on the shelves of Videotheque and access the captive audience of over 600 national and international factual content pracitioners. Roundtables.

AIDC, February 18-20, Adelaide Hilton


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