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19 September 2014
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A 9 month placement with BBC documentaries

Creating thought provoking documentaries

Nick Mirsky

Nick Mirsky has become renowned in the documentary world for his cutting edge programmes such as 'The Armstrongs', 'Louis Theroux' and 'Wonderland' and the acclaimed programme which put Michael Portillo in the role of a single mother.

Not only is Nick overseeing the winning entrant during their nine month placement, he is also part of the panel.

Here you can find out Nick's views on good documentary making and in part two hear what he was looking for in a new team member.


How do you develop an idea into a documentary?
Sometimes you will go and shoot something straight away to see if it works... but sometimes it's just a concept that you're working on.


Do you focus on the character or the topic when you make a documentary?
There are good documentaries which are around ideas, good documentaries around people and good documentaries around situations... The real success is when we open up and make something that is different.


How did The Armstrongs come about?
We went through tonnes of companies and got to a real desperation point then someone pointed out The Armstrongs... We got there and almost instantly it felt like we'd arrived at this Holy Grail!


Does an idea have to 'jump out at you' or are some slow burners?
There's got to be something that makes me think I want to watch that, or that I could be convinced to watch that...


Is any topic taboo?
I don't thinks there are any topics which are really off limits... but we're got to act responsibly and make a really good thorough programme about something which may be a bit shocking... It's not enough to make a film just because it breaks a taboo.


part two


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