ON THE BLOG: Sheffield Doc/Fest's Patrick Hurley discusses their Access to Markets application

Patrick Hurley is Director of Marketplace & Talent at Sheffield Doc/Fest. He discusses their experience of successful applying to Creative Europe's Access to Markets scheme, what the grant allows the festival to achieve and offers his advice to future applicants. 

Tell us about your company/organisation

Sheffield Doc/Fest is the world’s third largest documentary festival. Doc/Fest presents an extensive public programme of films (all lengths and formats) plus a curated exhibition of new media works (Alternate Realities Exhibition).

Doc/Fest is a major hub for international business, hosting the MeetMarket and Alternate Realities Talent Market plus many ancillary activities for creators to connect with the industry. There is a vast Talks & Sessions programme plus numerous social networking events. The organisation also runs year-round talent development programmes. The past two years have seen marketplace activity grow year-on-year, expanding opportunities for filmmakers and creative producers working with new emerging mediums to connect with industry partners.

What have you most recently received funding for?

Access to Markets grant to support the MeetMarket and Alternate Realities Market.

What are your company’s ambitions and how has Creative Europe funding supported these?

As much as Sheffield Doc/Fest exists to showcase the best new works of non-fiction film and new media to local and international audiences, our event is equally focused on facilitating the creation of new documentary works through our Marketplace & Talent programme. Creative Europe’s support allows us to do year-round organisation, in-depth industry monitoring, analysis, research, connecting with filmmakers and film organisations in Europe and around the world, and inviting a vast delegation of industry Decision Makers to Sheffield for match-made meetings with creative teams. 

How has the MeetMarket and Alternate Realities Market expanded and changed since its inception?

We’ve steadily grown our network of industry Decision Makers who come to Sheffield each year looking for new projects to support. Equally the quality of projects seems to get stronger and stronger year-on-year. We are delighted to see the most established, experienced, award-winning producers pitch alongside new talent who may be working on their first feature. 

Can you share any feedback you received on your application? What made it successful?

We scored very highly on our recent application – 83 points out of a possible 100.

The feedback said:

"The event consists of different activities for the producers, financiers, distributors and festival representatives to have business to business actions with documentaries, shorts, VR, animation and cross-media productions. The event follows the needs of the markets to reach its goals. It has established its position among the different markets and financing forums having its own profile. The methodology of the event is professional and uses digital tools. The results achieved during and after the event are good. The follow up and surveys of the activities are key to develop the event further and a positive development has been in the increasing amount of the participants from the low production capacity countries. The team is professional and experienced and the division of roles is effective." 

Aside from financially, how has the Creative Europe funding been beneficial?

The reporting process is a good way to reflect on the previous edition and consider improvements year-on-year.

What advice would you give to potential applicants?

  • Read carefully the objectives of the call and think about how your activity exactly advances these objectives.
  • Provide plenty of detail, dedicate time to thinking about innovation and how you can improve your activity year-on-year.
  • Seek as much feedback from the previous edition as possible. 

In 2018 the MeetMarket received over 550 entries from 64 countries around the world and selected 65 projects. Over the course of two days, 1600 match-made meetings took place, with an average of 18 meetings per project.

This year's festival runs between 6 and 11 June 2019.