The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) is the go-to festival for TV producers working on the more serious side of factual programming (if reality TV or factual entertainment are more your thing try Realscreen in Washington DC or try WestDoc in Los Angeles, or Sheffield Doc/Fest for documentary and factual TV).
WCSFP is a roving conference that is being held in Vancouver for the 2013 Edition. London-based TV producer Amelia Vale went to the congress for the first time in 2012 and here shares her tips for anyone thinking of attending this year.
I went to the Congress for the first time last year when it was held in Washington DC. Initially, I was unsure whether it would be worth the expense of the trip across the Atlantic but having had a good look on the website and having read the positive feedback from previous delegates, I decided to plunge right in.
I had a science idea I wanted to pitch, so I submitted my synopsis for the Congress staff to present to my target broadcasters. If the broadcasters are interested in your programme synopsis, a date is scheduled for you to pitch the idea for 10 minutes to your chosen broadcast Editor during a speed dating session.
It was a really useful process because as I pitched the idea, the one-one contact meant I could see in the eyes of the commissioning editor what they were most interested in, and our discussions, although very brief, gave me a real sense of the direction to go in for the more detailed brief /follow-up proposal that they asked for. This is not something you can gauge in the same way via email.
Another real benefit of the Congress is the chance it gives you to network with other filmmakers of all ages and varying degrees of experience: don’t underestimate how useful this can be! I met people who shared great tips for my speed dating sessions, people I am likely to collaborate with in the future, and like-minded people who I have stayed in contact with. I kept thinking I was being incredibly lucky to keep bumping into such relevant people and then I found out that everyone I was meeting was thinking the same thing!
I thoroughly enjoyed it and got so much out of going.
I have three top tips for first timers at Congress:
1. If you have an idea/s make the synopsis deadline for speed dating and arrange meetings with other editors, funders and decision makers you want to talk with well in advance.
2. Stay at the host hotel and talk to everyone you are in proximity with. I met great contacts in the lift and in queues!
3. Attend as many social events as possible. As I went on my own, my initial thought was “this is going to be a bit of an effort,” but it wasn’t I met great people and had a really productive and fun time!