My name is Neil Shaw and I am currently (volunteer) teaching a semester of documentary filmmaking at the ANKAA migrant skills centre in Athens, Greece.

1. Tell us about yourself – who are you and what do you do?

I am a video journalist and documentary filmmaker who has made 180 inserts and videos, and 16 documentaries since 1999. 

2. What are you currently up to? Are there any exciting projects ongoing?

I am currently teaching documentary filmmaking to a group of Afghans in Athens, Greece at the ANKAA migrant skills centre. Greece, which has its own economic problems, has become a bottleneck for migrants ever since other European countries made it much harder for these migrants to cross into their countries. The ANKAA project offers training and skills for these migrants in Athens, and thus some hope in this humanitarian crisis. 

3. What’s your best project/work to date?

I can’t say I have a best project, but I am proud of my most recent documentary, “Cape Town’s beach Calligrapher” (https://vimeo.com/compasslight/review/315505702/8cc4c52978) which screened at this year’s Encounter’s Film festival. 

4. Who or what inspires you?

When I look at the lives of filmmakers whose work I admire, such as Stanley Kubrick or Alexander Payne, I see single-minded people. They have made great films by prioritising their work and through persistence (and talent).

5. When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

When I am not working I watch movies of course! 

6. Finally, what tips or advice could you give to other documentary creatives, just starting out or to the more experienced creatives needing a bit of encouragement?

When I started out, with no skills or experience, the advice I received was “just do it”, and that is what I did. Of course it is a complex medium, so beyond “just doing it”, it is good to get to grips with story strategies and of course the technical aspects of camera work and editing.