Richard Crandon is the director of 'On Par Productions'
which he and co-director Toby Cameron founded in 2009.
They are passionate about telling thought provoking
stories which are entwined with innovative visual content.
Crandon's approach to film is also inspired by his love of
music, which -along with his and Cameron's films- has
enabled him to work in many countries including
North Africa, France, Croatia, Turkey and Malta.
Here is a word from Richard about his experiences at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016...
Sheffield Doc/Fest is always a highlight in the On Par calendar. The festival gives myself and our staff the opportunity to watch the latest feature docs ahead of their theatrical release, attend some fantastic talks from industry leaders and meet a wealth of talented filmmakers from across the globe.
That said I feel that this year the festival lacked something that had kept us coming back year after year. Tickets to most of the films on our hit list we’re sold out, the talks on offer seemed to be repeating old ground covered last year, and the queues for VR experiences were ridiculous and I felt rushed by staff to limit my time on each one.
Most notably though was the atmosphere and vibe of Doc/Fest’s legendary parties as they had somewhat lost their energy. Maybe the departure of Heather Croall from her post of Festival Organiser in 2014 has had an impact on the direction the festival is taking these past couple of years? Delegate passes aren’t cheap at £300+ per head, and for an indie like On Par the cost soon adds up when providing travel, board and food for our staff members. Good job we got our early bird passes back in the Autumn.
One notable difference was the change to the delegate bar and food area outside of The Crucible. In 2015 the layout provided the perfect environment to grab a drink and a bite to eat and rub shoulders with other filmmakers. We made some fantastic contacts here last year however the change of the outlay to the area this year did not provide the same experience. Oh well at least we had the European Championships to keep us entertained in the pub on Saturday afternoon!
But let’s not focus on the negative. The Q&As have always been a strength of the festival, with filmmakers coming from far & wide to introduce their films and give audiences the opportunity to discuss the film with them after the screening. One improvement from previous years was the extended duration of the Q&As. They provided adequate time for most people with a question to speak to the filmmakers and have a more in depth discussion about what they had just seen on screen.
My first screening was Burma’s Secret Jungle War and it was a pleasure to have Joe Simpson and Ed Stafford in attendance afterwards for a Q&A. Life Animated was next, a heartwarming film about Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. This emotional coming-of-age story follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence. It was great to leave the cinema uplifted and thirsty for more.
Final screening highlight was Miss Sharon Jones! This was always going to be a winner with myself as I’m a huge fan of her work and the record label Daptone Records who release her albums. On the eve of the release of her new album, soul singer Sharon Jones was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Tour dates were cancelled, the album pushed back and Sharon entered into a fight for her life and career. This intimate film follows this intense year in Sharon’s life. Although it didn’t live up to Soul Of America (2012), chronicling Daptone Records own Charles Bradley’s rise from James Brown impersonator to international soul sensation and the release of his debut album at the age of 62, MSJ is a must see for any music fan.
Then came the moment everyone who was lucky enough to get a ticket had been waiting for all festival. Sir David Attenborough in conversation at The Crucible. Just to be in the same room as the man was an honour. The conversation was led by Charlotte Moore, Controller of Channels and iPlayer for the BBC and she was excellent in covering such an extensive career with him in the limited time they had.
Ronnie O’Sullivan in conversation followed and it was great to see the festival offer something that brought delegates and the snooker fanatics together as numerous members of the general public were in attendance. It offered a great insight into his sporting heroes with clips shown from Senna and When We Were Kings. Rocket Ronnie also discussed his incredible career, battles with his own demons, sports psychology, his newly found love of jogging and even his admiration for the great Howard Hughes.
So to wrap up, what did I think of the festival? If it hadn’t been for the Attenborough talk I would of been very disappointed. It has defiantly lost something these past two years. Will I go again? Not sure, I might look into going to the likes of IDFA in Amsterdam to try something different next year.
Director, On Par Productions