DIFF Young Journalist Award open workshop provides strong industry and creative writing insights

Thu Dec 10,2009

The DIFF Young Journalist Award Open Workshop, ‘Covering a Film Festival’, held in association with MBC Group, provided illuminating insights on a wide range of writing issues on the opening morning of DIFF 2009.

The 90-minute workshop was presented by Scott Macaulay, from Filmmaker Magazine and Producer, Forensic Films; and Colin Brown, formerly at Screen International and now at CNBC Business, who shared their wealth of industry knowledge and experience with the group of budding UAE film journalists.

Colin Brown set the scene by reflecting on the changing nature of film festival writing, recalling when daily papers for Screen International could be anything up to 240 pages thick. “The buzz around festivals, films and journalism are all part of the same continuum,” he said. “It’s organised chaos and that’s part of the rush of covering events.”

He said one of the timeless challenges for writers covering festivals is distinguishing between the factually accurate and the hype. “This industry is a master of creating a buzz around things that never happen.”

Mr Brown explained the difference between critics writing trade reviews for specific titles, and ‘pseudo reviewers’ expressing their views through personal columns, and explored issues relating to subjectivity and objectivity, with critics often working erratic hours and to tight deadlines.

He advised aspiring writers to get inside the head of filmmakers, and evaluate films in their specific contexts, and building up good working relationships with publicists was vital.

Scott Macaulay said publicists also had a role to play with writers. “The truly good publicists intellectually engage you about a film,” he said.

Media ownership, social media networking issues and the changing nature of the global advertising market were also covered in the presentation.

Launched last year, the DIFF Young Journalist Awards is part of the Industry Office’s commitment to enhance the skills of the arts within the UAE.

Topics covered in other workshops this week include film review and criticism, film business writing, and new technologies like blogging. The workshops are open to students in the UAE who are currently enrolled in either journalism, film studies, PR or mass media and communications courses.

Now in its sixth year, DIFF 2009 is held in association with Dubai Studio City and will be held from December 9 to 16. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah are the principal sponsors of DIFF and the event is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). For more information on the festival, please visit

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