Docu Blues
Bill Oddie and David Leach perform at St Hilda's College

'Documentary Blues' - watch Bill Oddie perform to Oxford audience

Matt Pickles


A live harmonica performance from Bill Oddie brought the St Hilda's Documentary-Making Conference at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building to an end last month.

The college has shared with us the video of the musician, ornithologist and TV presenter accompanying producer/director David Leach in a song called ‘Documentary Blues’.

But playing the harmonica was not Mr Oddie's only reason for attending the conference – he was also there to give advice to budding film-makers about producing wildlife documentaries.

The former Goodie was one of 16 industry experts who spoke to an audience of students, staff, alumni and others.

Other speakers included Simon Elmes, who stepped down as Creative Director of BBC Radio Documentaries Unit this year and alumna Anna Hall, a freelance series producer and director whose documentaries have included the ITV programme ‘Dunblane: Remembering Our Children’ and 'College Girls' about St Hilda's.

Alumna Ruth Fuller Session, director of operations at Atlantic Productions on the recent mini-series 'Inside the Commons', and Mike Brett, director of the film ‘Next Goal Wins’, who won a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit award last year, also spoke at the conference.

The sessions included ‘How to make a documentary: from commission to transmission’; ‘Feature-length documentary: creating factual movies’; ‘Wildlife documentary: always work with animals’; ‘Radio documentary: making pictures in sound’; and ‘Observational documentary: the bare naked truth’.

The conference was organised by the St Hilda's College Media Network as part of their regular programme of events bringing experts to Oxford to speak on writing and film-making. Nicolette Jones, Chair of the network and Children’s Book Editor at the Sunday Times, said: 'The hall was full, the audience engaged and lunch on the St Hilda’s College lawn made for an idyllic garden party atmosphere.'

The next event, a masterclass in editing, will take place on 13 October.