Post 16 Media Studies students at Wilmington Academy were fortunate to have the opportunity to hear from documentary filmmaker, Joss Crowley recently.

Career Path

In an eloquent presentation, Joss began with his career path explaining that after university, he had wanted to be a journalist. Sadly, despite a great deal of effort, he didn’t succeed in securing the job that he really wanted and found himself having to reassess why he had chosen journalism as a career. His thought was that the reason for choosing this path was that he values the medium of storytelling.

It was this realisation that formed the desire to enter the filmmaking industry and Joss stressed to students that he had left no avenues unexplored to do this. This included taking every opportunity possible, no matter how hard the work, how long the hours or how badly paid. He further stressed the importance of utilising every contact possible and persevering in keeping on trying.

Film Making

Joss eventually found himself making feature films but soon came to the realisation that this area was not for him as he prefers working in smaller, tight knit teams and enjoys working closer to the camera. This was when he pursued the beginning of his documentary film making by securing a post as a researcher.

Joss now works as a documentary film maker predominantly covering music and sport; two areas that he has a personal interest in.

Joss then proceeded to show students a number of clips of his work:

  • Stay Dangerous – a short film with West Coast rapper, YG
  • The Great Pretender – a film documenting some of the life of Freddie Mercury
  • Above Us Only Sky – a film using the music of John Lennon and Yoko Ono to “unpick “ their lives.

Joss explained that joy of this type of documentary is that they can be used to show the human, and often more vulnerable side of famous people that we think we know.

He further explained the elements used to make this type of documentary:

  • Interviews are always key
  • Archive film (often not previously shown out-takes)
  • Original footage
  • Animation
  • Narration

Tips for Students

He stated that this is a good industry to start out in when young and his tips to students that might want to pursue a career in film were:

  • Persevere
  • Get yourself “out there”- use those that you know
  • Be prepared to work long hours
  • Make a portfolio of work-technology is easily available to help with this
  • There’s no time like NOW!
  • Learn from making mistakes
  • Look out for film trends
  • Learn to pitch your ideas


Joss’s enjoyment of his work came clearly to the fore; thank you Joss for informing our students.