Passion and Policy – Documentary in Wales


Doc Heads

On Friday 29th May Documentary Wales/ Dogfen Cymru is holding a symposium in Cardiff:

to discuss the future of documentary film in Wales. Drawing together a range of talent from Wales and beyond, the day will be an opportunity to meet a diverse collection of individuals who share your passion for documentary.  The focus of the day will be on:

  •  Strengthening the community of documentary film makers currently working in Wales
  • Exploring ways of building the audience for documentary film in Wales
  • Discussing future plans for supporting documentary film within the Welsh production sector

Without good policy no social endeavour flourishes as it might. Structures start from policy. Policies are not made by machines but by people and people have beliefs and values and prejudices, all of which can be discussed, debated and shaped into principles on which actions are based. Those actions influence both what is possible in the social sphere and what becomes impossible.

To make Wales a place in which documentary flourishes we need policies which build sound platforms for documentary. That means taking an interest in policy for broadcasting, digital media and cinema – at least.

Whenever policy-makers discuss the governance of media in Wales or what should be in a Channel 3 Licence requirement or the terms of the BBC Charter renewal what they are discussing is the means by which, and the extent to which, your passion is going to be supported or thwarted. Your passion needs policy.

The Wales Media Policy Group is currently carrying out an audit of media in Wales, both quantitative and qualitative, which will be launched ahead of the one-day Cardiff Media Summit we will hold on 11th November. We held a very successful half-day last winter. This year’s will be broader in scope.

It’s good that The Scottish Documentary Institute will be part of Wales Doc Day. Their aim is:

to stimulate and inspire the documentary scene in Scotland and beyond through focus on creative excellence and clear international outlook. They also aim to bridge the gap between academia and industry.

The Wales Media Policy Group shares that outlook and the interest in good relations between academia and the media in Wales. We have invited all Welsh universities to propose research on the media in Wales for inclusion in the summit if, and as, appropriate.

Documentary is an art and a business and most of us prefer the arty side; the business side can seem less stimulating! Policy formation sits on the business side but it is a particular kind of creativity. There is no good policy without imagination. Solutions to problems or ways of organising a brilliant idea have to be dreamt of first before they can become reality. The pleasure in policy is in the combination of inspiration and fact.

Documentaries don’t get funded, made and screened in a vacuum but in a world affected by policies. If you have a dream for documentary in Wales, what policies would make it come true?

Please take a look at some recent posts on media in general on the IWA’s clickonwales site, such as

and our response to Ofcom’s Public Service Broadcasting Review:

The Wales Media Policy Group operates under the aegis of the independent think-tank, the Institute for Welsh Affairs. The Group comments on the formation of media policy for Wales in order to create the best environment for media workers, users and audiences. All of whom are citizens.

Documentary is a crucial way in which the people of Wales see themselves and present themselves to the world.

See you on Friday. It will be a treat to with people who care about docs!