The mission of the International Documentary Challenge is to encourage documentary filmmakers to create and to give those filmmakers an international platform to showcase their talents. The "challenge" is a fresh and innovative approach designed to make documentary filmmaking a thrilling experience so participants walk away with the "Doc Bug" and go on to make bigger and better non-fiction films!
Within the last few years, documentaries have entered into a renaissance period. Filmmaking tools are now so affordable that anyone willing to invest the time and energy to tell a story can do so. Audiences have finally realized that some of the most compelling stories come from the truest form of drama-documentary films. It has become obvious that there is no shortage of engaging stories, aspiring artists wanting to tell them, places to screen them, and people to view them.
With this in mind, Doug Whyte of KDHX Community Media developed the International Documentary Challenge. The idea of a timed competition gives filmmakers not only a hard deadline, but also a specific period of time during which they are allowed to work on the film. Through Whyte's experience with the 48 Hour Film Project, National Film Challenge and International Documentary Challenge, he has learned that this is a significant blessing in disguise for the artist. Approximately 80% of participating filmmakers actually turn in a finished film by the deadline in these challenges. This incredible rate of participation can directly be traced to the limited time period--it is much easier for filmmakers to set aside 5 days to fully concentrate on a film as opposed to months or years for longer projects. With such a small time commitment, it is also easier for filmmakers to get help and participation from crew members and film subjects. These circumstances have often helped filmmakers to create their best work!
Secondly, the feedback we receive is that the "challenge" is an exhilarating experience for the filmmakers that help them focus in a new and effective way. Initially it seems like a ridiculous notion to think of completing a film in such a short time, but that, in essence, is the point of this competition-to encourage filmmakers to work straight from their gut, make quick decisions and finish a creative project under pressure. When making a film in a few days, one learns a lot about what is and isn't important in filmmaking-lessons that will never be forgotten.
Thirdly, the Doc Challenge is an event that appeals to both novice and professional filmmakers alike. Novice filmmakers have the opportunity to go through the whole filmmaking process in less than a week, learning the art of film production in a trial by fire situation, and professionals have the opportunity to work on a creative, personal project without having to commit months or years of their life
Finally, beyond a great experience for the filmmakers, the Doc Challenge creates an intriguing program for audiences to view. Since all of the submitted films are created about the same theme at the same point in time, from all over the world, there is a synergy that connects them. Additionally, it is interesting for the audience to watch how the individual filmmakers approach the assigned theme and genre in their own unique way.