I have just returned from attending the always inspiring, humbling and exhausting Malofiej conference in Pamplona. This year was an extra special occasion in that it was the 25th annual event and was the first time I had returned since five years earlier when I was honoured to be selected to join the judging panel and line-up of speakers at the 20th event.

As I reflected at the time, my attendance at the event in 2012 was arguably the most important and enjoyable professional experience I'd had. It marked a major milestone in my career as only a couple of weeks later I moved from being part-time to full-time freelance.

When I realised this year would be the 25th event I was determined to attend but also knew I wanted to do something to mark the quarter-century anniversary. A few months ago, when lining it up in my 2017 schedule, I had the random idea of recording a film about this landmark occasion in the event's history. I had never filmed anything before of note, never made a documentary, never even filmed an interview. I knew I would be drifting out of my comfort zone but thought it would be an entirely worthwhile experience. It would also represent a personal gesture of appreciation for the significance of this event in my own professional history.

I recognised it would be too ambitious an endeavour to pull off alone so I approached my trusted collaborator Matt Knott to invite him to join me in taking on this project. I'm very thankful that he accepted the offer!

The first key constraint I imposed was that whatever we accomplished would be done so with the minimal of kit: two iPhones, an extendable and table-top tripod, and a pair of attachable microphones represented the limit of our equipment. This would make things portable and lightweight to ensure we could be mobile around the various venues the event takes place across.

The second key constraint was that we had to be able to achieve this filming whilst also being present as delegates to enjoy the event's content. A difficult balance. The process of filming interviews and recording general footage was quite intense, especially as we reached the final sessions of the Friday afternoon talks and awards dinner. With the interviews in particular, we really needed to wait until the latter stages of the week's proceedings in order to be able to capture overall reflections from people (judges, speakers, delegates, staff). We were so incredibly grateful that we managed to secure interviews with over 30 people - thank you to everyone who took part. We had many more people on our growing wish-list as well as countless new interesting, talented people we met during the event but couldn't realistically accommodate into our recording schedule.

Capturing the social aspect of Malofiej was always going to be very important - it is a critical component of the attraction and enjoyment of the week - so, as hard as it was to convince us, we made sure we were present at the key lunch and night-time activities throughout the event...

So what next? We now have lots of recorded footage to go through, to make sense of, to dig out the themes, to find the overall narrative, to select from the many great quotable lines, to create a storyboard, to conceive the overall tone and style of the film, to compile a final piece and then publish the final video. It will be published on here (via Youtube/vimeo) and our aim is to complete this within a couple of months ideally.

This project is a labour of love. It is not a commercial work. It is not a commission from the organisers to publicise the event. It is purely something I wanted to do to capture and showcase the unique nature of Malofiej and it will be available for you all as soon as possible.


Talk slides from Tableau webinar
Talk slides from DataFest17 'Data Summit'