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19 September 2014
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A 9 month placement with BBC documentaries

Impress the Panel - Guy King did

Guy King

With no television documentary experience but armed with two great documentary ideas, Guy King impressed the panel at last year's Sheffield International Documentary Festival.

As a result he secured a nine month placement as a researcher with BBC Documentary Features.

Here he recalls his experience at Sheffield and talks about what he has subsequently learnt on his placement at the BBC.

Q1. Tell us how you became interested in documentary film making.

I'd worked in print journalism. My first documentary was shot in a weekend and focused on a family I knew. Some of the best starting points for a documentary are people you know.


Q2. What ideas did you pitch to Impress the Panel at the Sheffield Festival?

I pitched two ideas. One was about an imaginary woman rugby player who had a sex change. There's an attraction about documentaries centred on the workplace. The other idea was about a family visiting their father in Ireland. There's just natural drama there.


Q3. What makes a good documentary idea and how can it best be realised?

A good idea might be good because it's got strong characters or it's an idea that's unusual and hasn't been seen before. Think about where the tension and the drama is. People are at their most interesting when they have to make big decisions.


Q4. What have you done on your placement in BBC Documentary Features?

Your job as researcher is to make the life of your director easy, whether that be helping with ideas or contacts. You can be asked to get Mrs Bin Laden on the phone and end up talking to her. The best part of the placement is getting to find out how a documentary gets made.


Q5. What have you learned about documentary film making?

Even in a purely observed situation the director will be thinking ahead about scenes he or she wants to follow. There's much more thought goes into the construction of a documentary than I imagined.


Guy King


Guy began in print journalism, specialising in properties, but he found the human interest stories too compelling.

A friend claimed that there are two types of people - those who talk about getting into documentaries and those who just do it. The friend's advice was - just do it.

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