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“Une belle oeuvre de cinéma doit soulever quelque chose chez le spectateur : une émotion, une question”

Dossier industrie: Documentaire

Charlotte Hailstone • Productrice, Hailstone Films


La représentante écossaise parmi les Emerging Producers 2022 partage son expérience dans la production de documentaires et nous parle de ses projets à venir

Charlotte Hailstone • Productrice, Hailstone Films

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

An interview with Charlotte Hailstone, producer for her own Scotland-based company Hailstone Films and selected for the 2022 Emerging Producers programme. Read his EP profile here.

Why do you produce documentaries? Do you understand documentary film as an instrument of social and political change?
Charlotte Hailstone: I produce documentaries for two primary reasons; the making process and the audience experience. When making documentaries, I don’t feel like a small cog in a big machine because of the intimate collaboration with the team, contributors and the subject. My best days have been spent deeply experiencing new perspectives or something totally unexpected. Each project has had a lasting effect on me. I am also drawn to the possibilities for experimentation to find the form and language of each project.

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When you go to the cinema, you put the outside world aside, and have time to look at something closely without distraction. When I was first discovering creative documentaries from the audience, they went straight to my heart and head, and I felt compelled to share them with others. A great piece of cinema will stir a movement in people; an emotion, or a question. These are the films I want to make; films that stay with you once you leave the cinema.

In terms of documentary as an instrument of social and political change specifically, is the film causing the change or observing a change that is already underway? If it widens the circle of awareness, and causes that movement in the viewer, however small, I believe it forms part of the process.

The pandemic had an impact on the entire sector. How did it influence your work as a producer? Have the projects that you work on changed?
At the start of the pandemic, we were faced with questions firstly about what was ethical and then what was feasible. This led us to pause. As our films are ambitious in scope and involve international collaborations, it has become about managing risks and logistics, whilst still striving for the intended vision. By its nature, documentary involves improvisation, so this is a balancing act.

I was fortunate enough to meet director Laura Wadha during lockdown, and we didn’t meet face to face until after we had finished making the short film Born in Damascus together – the whole relationship was online. Her film was adapted to suit the online world we were living in, both in content and process. But now we are excited to be developing a feature that will allow her to physically reconnect with her family scattered over the world, as she explores the effects war has beyond the initial displacement and trauma. There are extra burdens of cost, in both time and money, to deal with the ongoing effects of the pandemic, and I hope that funders will continue to recognise and support that where they can, so that the production value you see on screen doesn’t take the hit.

What do you think is the future of the distribution of documentary films?
Streaming services have provided a route for audiences unfamiliar with documentaries to dip a toe into the pool. The number of them available is somewhat overwhelming, and perhaps aggregate services will become the norm. It is great that people can access documentary on VOD and at festivals, and I’m sure there are people formulating what might be the next big revolution in the way people watch film. But ultimately, I would love to further cultivate a love of documentary cinema in the general populace. To not only provide for those who are already aware enough to attend a festival, but to entice new people to try these films in the cinema, whilst providing them with the option. 

What projects do you have underway?
I am working alongside on Victor Kossakovsky’s new film, Architecton, which shoots this year. I also have two documentary projects in development; a feature follow-on from Born in Damascus by Scottish-Syrian director Laura Wadha, as mentioned above, and Nucleus directed by Scottish-based James Thomson, which is a tale of families from two islands on opposite sides of the world, dealing with the fallout of nuclear weapons testing on their lives. Meanwhile, I am keeping my eyes open for projects that really spark my curiosity and developing relationships that will hopefully lead to exciting things in future.


EMERGING PRODUCERS is a leading promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.

Deadline for applications to the EMERGING PRODUCERS 2023 edition is 31 March 2022.

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