DevlinP's blog

Blogging Hot Docs: A Few Wise Words from Richard Leacock

Filmmaker Paul Devlin wraps up the 2008 Hot Docs festival in Toronto


Lifetime Achievement: In accepting his award, a self-deprecating Richard Leacock commiserated with his audience.

Wrapping up his blog from Hot Docs in Toronto, filmmaker Paul Devlin writes about some of the memorable conversations he has had this past week with filmmakers from around the world. He also reflects on a charming speech given by Richard Leacock (pictured at left), the 86-year-old documentary legend who was awarded a lifetime achievement award. Plus: A few thoughts on Paul Rowley's Seaview (view the trailer), Astrid Bussink's The Lost Colony (view the trailer), and Tanaz Eshaghian's Be Like Others.

The most memorable moments at film festivals are often encounters with other filmmakers. Making non-fiction movies can be isolating, especially during the post-production phase. To emerge from that to re-discover an international community of like-minded artists can be very re-energizing.

Blogging Hot Docs: Playing the Pre-Sale, Co-Production Game

Filmmaker Paul Devlin finds that filmmakers are struggling to woo commissioning editors


Hot Doc: Geoffrey Smith's film "The English Surgeon" focuses on surgeon Henry March (pictured.)

Still euphoric over his film's reception at Hot Docs, filmmaker Paul Devlin heads over to the Toronto Documentary Forum where a sober mood prevails among his fellow documentarians. Among the 30 participants invited to pitch future projects to commissioning editors around the world, only Eugene Jarecki mustered much enthusiasm (for a Ronald Reagan project.) Devlin also met up with Geoffrey Smith, director of The English Surgeon (said surgeon is pictured at left; view the trailer), who had smart advice for filmmakers on budgets, editing, and shooting.

The Toronto Documentary Forum is a high-powered, pressurized event that happens alongside the Hot Docs film festival. A couple hundred commissioning editors and broadcasters from around the world gather for two days of project pitching.

Blogging Hot Docs: Will Online Platforms Save Documentary Film?

Filmmaker Paul Devlin worries about distribution, talks about story structure, and sees some good films.


Surveying the Scene: A shot from "Passage," director John Walker's intriguing documentary. (Photo by Alex Salter)

"A premiere can be an ecstatic experience, but there's a bit of a hangover the next day," writes filmmaker Paul Devlin from the Hot Docs festival in Toronto, where his film BLAST! debuted to a sold-out house. "Now what? Will the movie get in more festivals or is this it? Is this movie going to sell? Will we make our money back?" These questions are common in today's over-saturated documentary marketplace and with all the new online distribution platforms popping up. Plus: Thoughts on John Walker's Passage (left), Juan Carlos Pineiro's Second Skin, and Celia Maysles' Wild Blue Yonder.

Film festivals can be a rollercoaster of highs and lows.

A premiere can be an ecstatic experience, but there’s a bit of a hangover the next day. Now what? Will the movie get in more festivals or is this it? Is this movie going to sell? Will we make our money back?

Blogging Hot Docs: What Happened At My Film's World Premiere

Filmmaker Paul Devlin talks about his big night


Taking Flight: A scene from Paul Devlin's film "BLAST!"

At long last, filmmaker Paul Devlin's documentary BLAST! has its world premiere at Hot Docs in Toronto, which also happens to be where many of the scientists who appear in the film live and work. That makes for a warm reception for the documentary (view the trailer). But, as Devlin writes, putting the finished project in front of the audience for the first time was not without its surprises.

My film BLAST!, about a group of physicists who travel from the Arctic to the Antarctic to launch a massive telescope into orbit. One of our main characters is Barth Netterfield, an astrophysics professor at the University of Toronto. His department organized a lovely reception for the movie.

Blogging Hot Docs: BBC's Nick Fraser Named a "Doc Mogul"

Filmmaker Paul Devlin reports on the 2008 Hot Docs festival in Toronto


The Doc Mogul: Nick Fraser, Paul Devlin, and friends at a luncheon honoring the creative force behind BBC's "Storyville."

At the Hot Docs festival in Toronto, filmmaker Paul Devlin attends a luncheon honoring Nick Fraser, the editor of BBC's documentary program Storyville, who also happens to be the executive producer on Devlin's new film BLAST!. In accepting his "Doc Mogul" award, Fraser offers filmmakers the following advice: be ambitious in your storytelling and message, figure out how to survive in a system that offers you less and less support, and "pray for the grace of accuracy."

Sometimes filmmaking comes down to arts and crafts.

We rushed to get our BLAST! poster done for the festival. So we wanted to make damn sure it was going to get seen as much as possible.

Blogging Hot Docs: The Director of "BLAST!" Hits Toronto

Paul Devlin blogs about the Hot Docs festival, where his new doc is having its premiere


Lift Off: "BLAST!" follows a NASA team that seeks to launch a telescope into space.

Paul Devlin's last film Power Trip, a look at a culture clash between American utility executives and some Russian workers they inherit in a merger, won the award for best international documentary feature at Hot Docs in Toronto in 2003. But due to the SARS scare, the filmmaker wasn't there to enjoy the accolades in person. This year, he's unveiling BLAST! (view the trailer), a new doc about a group of astrophysicists whose work takes them on a trip the length of the world. Devlin is blogging this week from Hot Docs.

Missing Hot Docs in Toronto was my one big regret when I was on the festival circuit with my last film, Power Trip. It was 2003 and the SARS scare shut down the Toronto Documentary Forum and kept a lot of filmmakers home. I was already at the San Francisco Film Festival, and decided to cancel the trip to Toronto.

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