FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT: DAN REED
In a documentary-making career spanning a quarter century, Dan Reed has established a reputation as one of the most dedicated and talented filmmakers working in Britain today. With a slew of awards under his belt, he is also one of the most heralded.
Long known in the UK, Dan came to worldwide prominence last year with his devastating portrait of sexual abuse Leaving Neverland. The two-part Channel 4/HBO film won a number of awards and was widely hailed by viewers and critics as a forensic examination of the longterm trauma of sexual abuse.
At the same time, Dan found himself bombarded by a global legion of Michael Jackson supporters, many of whom had never watched the film.
As Dan himself admits, he’s no stranger to navigating difficult terrain. From his work amongst gang members in South Africa in Cape of Fear (1994), to covering both sides of the Balkan conflict in The Valley (2000), he has often placed himself in dangerous positions.
In recent years, Dan has explored complex stories of trauma through intimate personal testimony. The films use user-generated content, CCTV and interviews to powerful effect, depicting the timeline of terrorism events as they erupt across everyday settings: an opera in Moscow, a mall in Nairobi, luxury hotels in Mumbai, and the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo.
Alongside his terrorism films, Dan has built up a stable of observational documentaries, embedding himself amongst Russian gangsters, drug abusers and escorts. The Paedophile Hunter (Channel 4, 2014) won two BAFTAs and a Grierson award for its portrait of paedophile vigilante Stinson Hunter.
In the fourth episode of the DocHouse Conversations podcast, Carol Nahra will talk with Dan about his life making documentaries. In an extended edition of the podcast, they take a deep dive into his two very different types of documentaries: observational filmmaking and personal testimony combined with archive.
They also discuss Leaving Neverland, the different approaches to documentary in the US and the UK, the role of luck in filmmaking, and why Dan prefers the documentary genre to the years he spent making drama.
In the run up to the release of the podcast on 13 May, you can refamiliarise yourself with much of Dan’s work online, for free, by heading to the following places:
LEAVING NEVERLAND (2019)
The two part film is available to watch on Channel4.com on demand, here.
THE VALLEY (2000)
You can watch it here: https://vimeo.com/76721060
CALAIS: THE END OF THE JUNGLE (2017)
Filmed deep inside the notorious migrant camp, this film charts the final days of the Calais Jungle as Europe's largest migrant camp erupted into flames.
Watch Calais: The End of the Jungle here.
THREE DAYS OF TERROR: THE CHARLIE HEBDO ATTACKS (2016)
Dan Reed's Emmy- and BAFTA-nominated documentary for HBO and BBC about the January 2015 terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo and other Paris locations
Watch Three Days of Terror here.
FROM RUSSIA WITH CASH (2015)
With increasing evidence that London's property boom is being partly fuelled by overseas buyers laundering money, an undercover reporter posing as a Russian government minister attempts to investigate how estate agents react to his stolen money.
Watch From Russia with Cash here.
This daring documentary reveals in intimate detail the modern face of high-class prostitution, focusing on the lives of two self-dubbed high class call girls, Emily B and Cookie Jane.
Watch Escorts here.
THE PAEDOPHILE HUNTER (2014)
Follows controversial vigilante Stinson Hunter as he poses as underage children online to draw out potential pedophiles, and confront them in person.
Watch The Paedophile Hunter here.
TERROR AT THE MALL (2014)
Emmy- and BAFTA-nominated documentary for HBO and BBC about the terror attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
Watch Terror at the Mall here.
LEGALLY HIGH (2013)
A hard-hitting observational documentary that takes a trip into the murky world of legal drugs, and explores how they are replacing traditional class A drugs like cocaine, heroin, speed.
Watch Legally High here.
Follows UK journalist and activist Laura Bates as she uses the power of social media to highlight the issue of sexism today.
Watch #shoutingback here.
CHILDREN OF THE TSUNAMI (2012)
The 2011 tsunami in Japan, and the nuclear accident at Fukushima which followed, told through the eyes of 7-10 year old children.
Watch Children of the Tsunami here.
TERROR IN MUMBAI (2009)
Primetime-Emmy-Nominated and BAFTA-winning documentary about the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai.
Watch Terror in Mumbai here.
THE VALLEY (2000)
BAFTA-nominated documentary exploring the Kosovo conflict from both sides of ethnic divide in the valley where the war broke out.
Watch The Valley here.
TERROR IN MOSCOW (2003)
BAFTA-nominated HBO documentary about the 57-hour siege of a Moscow musical theatre in 2002, when a Chechen jihadi suicide squad held 800 people hostage.
Watch Terror in Moscow here.
CAPE OF FEAR (1994)
A year embedded with Cape Town's most notorious gang, the 'Hard Livings', led by twins Rashied and Rashaad Staggie.
Watch Cape of Fear here.