Connect the Docs offers unique online tools for documentary filmmakers
by Luigi Benetton
The Victoria documentary film community gathered on Wednesday, January 28 to discuss and watch clips from the upcoming doc Election Day in Canada. The screening happened in other locations simultaneously thanks to everyday tools – streaming video, social networks and the Open Cinema site – that helped remote viewers participate in this event.
These tools are coming together in a platform called Connect the Docs, the brainchild of documentary enthusiast and Open Cinema founder Mandy Leith. Leith has joined forces with digital marketing and communications professional Graham Powell to take Connect the Docs from drawing board to tech startup with the help of a Victoria business incubator.
Leith wants to develop Connect the Docs to support Canadian documentary filmmakers by combining live streaming, video on demand and real-time engagement in one interface. The resulting community can interact synchronously during events and asynchronously (like ordinary social media) at other times, nurturing engagement long after an event ends.
Leith says she hasn’t found such technology anywhere else. That’s what makes Connect the Docs so intriguing; it could spread much farther than the Canadian documentary filmmaking community.
Documentary filmmaking isn’t the only field where people build communities to share their interests and passions. For instance, in a “white-label” arrangement, a software company could use Connect the Docs to make its experts available via screencasts to demo a title’s latest features. Professional associations could live-stream professional development events across Canada. Presenters in either case could field questions from audience members no matter where they are.
Bringing focus back to Canadian documentary filmmaking, the envisioned tech business will generate revenues that help fund documentaries, from production through to distribution.
As with most things in incubators, Connect the Docs is still in its infancy. Leith and Powell are developing Connect the Docs into actual code and a business with the help of the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATeC) (they first met with VIATeC representatives on February 13) and Accelerate Tectoria. And as with the documentaries that Leith champions, Connect the Docs is looking for funding.
Keep an eye on Leith and Powell’s creation, which seems set to shake the Canada’s documentary filmmaking world and many industries beyond.