The European Documentary Network (EDN) meets on November 23rd and will discuss a proposal to revive its printed magazine, DOX, in an annual form. This is (was?) the only magazine in Europe devoted to the culture of making documentaries at a time when online distribution and technical advances mean there are more documentary makers then ever.
Like many EDN members I consider myself a documentary maker, although the work I do for a living would perhaps better be described as factual television.
As a working freelance producer/director, much of the business side of EDN’s focus is of limited interest, although I accept it has as important role in helping indies and individuals navigate the funding maze.
What I loved about DOX was the focus on the practice of documentary making. This is something that is absent anywhere else (as far as I know). I should say that DOX didn’t deal with the day to day stuff of working in factual television, but that was part of its charm, its writing on arty feature docs and experimental films was somewhat escapist for many of its readers, but it was relevant escapism.
Interviews with documentary filmmakers and articles on approaches to building a rapport with contributors, location sound recording or techniques for filming with minimal equipment are very rarely seen in print.
Is EDN for producers or directors? It seems to me it has always served both, which makes sense since in documentaries, they are often one and the same person.
With the closure of DOX in print EDN becomes less relevant to me and my working life as a documentary maker. I would like to feel a connection to the great European documentary tradition and to be inspired by what others are doing in their practice of the form. That, to me is worth the membership fee.
I appreciate that many members will have different needs from the organisation but if someone is looking for information about funding a film, it’s unlikely that will translate into a lifetime membership of EDN.
I believe that EDNs lifetime members and its passionate supporters of the future will derived from promoting the culture and practice of documentary and that is something that DOX did.
Incidentally, I notice a lack of advertisements in recent issues of DOX, especially advertisements for cameras, lenses, mics, sliders, bags, lights and other tools of the trade. Surely the DOX readership could be a captive audience for this market?
Finally, I make this argument for DOX not out attachment to a printed magazine, annual or otherwise – I accept that a digital form might be more cost effective – but we need a forum for documentary makers to discuss their craft and DOX was (is?) our best hope.