Training & Development

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First Cut Lab

Start date:
Jun 14, 2021
Ability Level:

This special online ‘First Cut Lab’ is designed to assist two feature films (fiction/documentary) from Qatar or the MENA region and two short films from Qatar in the editing phase. The main goal is to foster the artistic potential of the selected rough cuts and, at the same time, to increase the sales, festival, and circulation potential of the completed films.

Selected producer/director/editor teams will screen their full rough cut and be given expert feedback on their edit from three international film advisors (creative producers, festival programmers, sales agents, etc.) as well as tailor-made advice from a consultant editor. Participants will discuss their materials and receive productive inputs both in one-to-one meetings and in small groups via video-conferencing platforms.

The lab consists of a one-day (for shorts) or two-day (for features) workshop tailored individually to each project, preceded by a brief preparatory meeting. At the end of the lab, creative teams are provided with a written memo report, that serves as guidance to further work on the edit and post-production of their films. Participants will be selected based on the strength of their films, vision and approach, as well as their previous work.

Application Deadline: 22 May 2021


  • Preparatory meetings: 14–16 June 2021 (online)
  • Full-day mentorship sessions for short film: 26 & 27 June 2021 (online)
  • Full-day mentorship sessions for the first feature film: 26 & 27 June 2021 (online)
  • Full-day mentorship sessions for the second feature film: 28 & 29 June 2021 (online)
  • Full-day mentorship sessions for the third feature film: 30 June & 1 July 2021 (online)

Please note that for each film, the main mentorship sessions span the entire day as mentioned above. Each selected feature film will be assigned specific dates for their main session of the lab: either 21 & 22 June, or 22 & 23 June 2021. The short film session will take place on one day: 25 June 2021. A compulsory one-hour preparatory session will take place online with each creative team one week before their main session.

Workshop Schedule – Feature Films:
First day:
10:00-12:00 / Individual feedbacks given by each of the three advisors
14:00-16:30 / Collective discussion moderated by the head of the lab

Second day:
10:00-12:00 / Working session with editor consultant, part 1
14:00-16:00 / Working session with editor consultant, part 2
16:00-16:30 / Wrap-up session of the lab

Workshop Schedule – Short Film:
14:00-16:30 / Individual feedbacks and collective discussion moderated by the head of the lab
17:00 – 20:00 / Working Session with editor consultant

Lab Fee*: 800 QAR (feature projects), 400 QAR (short film projects)
*Qatar Museums Culture Pass members will receive a 10% discount on this lab’s fee. To avail of the discount, simply include a copy of your Culture Pass when applying.

Language: English
Group Size: A creative team of 2 or 3 participants per film (director, producer, and editor)
Level: Advanced

Lab Programme

Preparatory Session
The preparatory session will begin with a brief introduction and state the objectives of the lab. The First Cut Lab director and the editor consultant will then consult with the members of each creative team about their expectations for the lab—assessing the current stage of their rough cut and discussing the unique difficulties and challenges their project may face.

Main session
The main session of the lab consists of two intensive days of diverse online consultations.

Day 1
Morning: participants will receive invaluable, elaborated feedbacks from each of the three international film mentors, who will have watched the rough cut the day before and reflected on the points they want to address.

Afternoon: the director of the lab will initiate and moderate a collective discussion, after drawing a summary of the feedback from the morning and identify the topics that would deserve to be further discussed in a plenary exchange.

Day 2
The second day is composed of two half-day one-to-one working slots with the consultant editor. Building upon the many feedbacks of the day before, the consultant editor will dig deeper into the film materials, also going through the film timeline in detail. In agreement with the intentions of the creative team—that will have reflected on the exchanges from the day before—a series of practical editing suggestions will be provided. The goal is for the creative teams to leave the lab with renewed energy, confidence and increased awareness in the identity and strength of their materials, and excitement with the prospect of experimenting with new editing approaches.

A week after the main session, the participants will be provided with a written memo report, that serves as guidance to further work on the edit and post-production of their films.

Submission Requirements:

  1. Project Dossier, including:

    • Synopsis
    • Director’s note
    • Key crew & bios
    • Production company information
    • Film stills
    • Supplementary materials as desired (trailer, etc.)

  2. A letter outlining your motivation to participate in the lab, describing the project’s current stage and its primary needs.

  3. Link(s) to director’s previous work

  4. Video material for your project:

    • This can be selected scenes, first assembly or rough cut
    • Minimum duration 30 minutes for feature films and 8 minutes for shorts
    • Subtitled in English
    • Must be available via a password-protected streaming service (e.g. Vimeo). No transfer services or cloud storage will be accepted.

  5. Copy of Passport or government-issued ID for participating creative team members (director, producer, and editor)

Please send in Word or PDF format to on or before 22 May 2021.
Please include your full name, project title, email and contact number in all text documents.


  • The First Cut Lab is designed for creative teams (director, producer, and editor) with a film at the editing stage. The project can be in different stages of post-production, though it is highly recommended to be in the early editing phase.
  • The project director must be from Qatar or the MENA region.
  • DFI grant recipients are especially encouraged to apply.


Matthieu Darras
Lab Advisor

Matthieu Darras is the director of the First Cut Lab that he co-founded in 2015. Previously, he founded & directed the European Network NISI MASA (2002-2012), and later on co-founded and was the artistic director of the TorinoFilmLab (2008- 2018). A writer for the film magazine Positif (1998-2016), Matthieu Darras has been working as festival programmer, notably for the Cannes Critics’ Week (2005-2011) and the San Sebastian Film Festival (since 2010). He recently created the Pop Up Film Residency.

Benjamin Mirguet
Editor Mentor

Benjamin Mirguet is an editor, trainer, director, festival programmer. As an editor, he was involved in projects as ‘Batalla En El Cielo’ by Carlos Reygadas, ‘Meteora’ by Spiros Stathoulopoulos, ’40 Days Of Silence’ by Saodat Ismailova, ‘Dau’ by Ilya Khrzhanovski, ‘Deadweight’ by Axel Koenzen, ‘The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers’ by Ben Rivers, ‘Together Forever’ by Lina Luzyte and ‘Rey’ by Niles Atallah, premiering in international festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Locarno, Rotterdam and Karlovy Vary. Since 2015, he runs First Cut Lab together with Matthieu Darras. In 2017, he developed and served as a tutor for the Trailer Workshop in Istanbul together with Gulin Ustun, which focuses on training editors and producers to design the marketing of their films, including cutting a trailer. In 2018, he was editing tutor for five projects at QUMRA (Doha Film Institute), a workshop dedicated to films in postproduction. He was part of the selection committee for Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2010 and 2011. He also collaborated with CPH:DOX Copenhagen Documentary Film Festival programming team in 2011. He directed the short film The Dead Hear Not The Bells (2006) which premiered in Angers Premiers Plans and IFFR.

Sebastian Sepúlveda
Editor Mentor

Sepúlveda lived the first 18 years of his life between Europe and South America due to his family’s exile from Chile during the military regime. On return to Santiago in 1990, he began studying history. Towards the end of the 1990s, Sepúlveda studied screenwriting at La Fémis in Paris and editing at EICTV in Cuba. He was involved in editing several films in the 2000s (‘La Leon’ and ‘Young and Wild’). Sepúlveda’s directorial debut was ‘The Quispe Girls’ (2013), produced by Juan de Dios and Pablo Larraín. ‘The Quispe Girls’ screened at the Venice Film Festival Critics’ Week, where it won Best Cinematography. In 2015 he edited ‘The Club’, which won the Silver Bear at the Berlinale. He was nominated to the Spirits Awards in 2017 for the editing of ‘Jackie’, and is currently working on the editing of Pablo Larrain’s new film, ‘Ema’.

Industry Advisors

Bob Moore

Bob Moore is Co-President and Creative Producer at EyeSteelFilm in Montreal, where he has produced over 40 feature documentaries since 2008. Together with his talented partners and collaborators, he has been the recipient of over 100 international awards, including Emmys, Cinema Eyes, Golden Horses, Owls, Phoenixes, and a variety of other celebratory animal-themed prizes. He’s been the subject of a Producer’s Spotlight at the Cannes Marché du Film, and is currently an advisor and mentor working with the Sundance Film Festival, IDFA, DMZ docs South Korea, QUMRA, Tokyo Docs, Dhaka DocLab Bangladesh, Hot Docs, and RIDM.

Olena Decock

Olena Decock is an Industry Programmer at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, where she empowers emerging filmmakers with the tools to navigate the international documentary market. She is responsible for administering the CrossCurrents Canada Doc Fund, Hot Docs-Slaight Family Fund and Hot Docs-Blue Ice Docs Fund, as well as producing the festival’s annual conference. Olena has 10-years’ experience working at international film festivals, including two years as a Programming Associate to TIFF’s Middle East & Africa selections. She is the producer of the short film ‘Dziadzio’, which world premiered at TIFF and was named by NOW Magazine as one of the top Canadian short films of the festival. She is also the producer of the forthcoming short ‘Druh’, currently in post-production. Born and raised in Toronto, Olena is fluent in French and proficient in karaoke.

Stephanie Fuchs

Stephanie is the Festival Manager at Autlook Filmsales, one of the leading sales agents for feature documentaries and hybrids. Autlook is currently representing ‘Belushi’ by R.J. Cutler, ‘Writing With Fire’ by Rintu Thomas & Sushmit Ghosh (Sundance 2021 awarded), ‘All Light, Everywhere’ by Theo Anthony (Sundance 2021 awarded), ‘The Painter and the Thief’ by Benjamin Ree (93rd Academy Awards shortlist), ‘For Sama’ by Waad Al Kateab & Edward Watts, (Golden Eyes Best documentary Cannes 2019 + 47 awards, Emmy® Awarded, 92nd Academy Awards nominee), The Box Office hit ‘Caught in the Net’ by Vít Klusák, Barbora Chalupová, ‘Of Fathers and Sons’ by Talal Derki (91st Academy Awards nominee). Autlook offers a full spectrum of distribution, in-house, customized sales and festival strategies that help maximize revenues, audience engagement that fosters filmmakers’ careers, and an endless passion for the art of documentaries. Stephanie is in charge of Festival strategies, coordination of all international festivals, single bookings and educational screenings. She also offers her expertise as a consultant and panellist and has been part of several juries.


  • Places of the Soul – Hamida Issa (Feature Documentary – Qatar)
  • Hanging Gardens – May Odeh, Medoo Ali, Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji (Feature Narrative – Iraq, Palestine)
  • While We Watched – Vinay Shukla, Luke Moody, Abhinav Tyagi (Feature Documentary – UK, India, Qatar)

First Cut Lab

Created in 2015, First Cut Lab is a consultancy programme initiated by Tatino Films that benefits feature films in the editing phase. Ninety films from all over the world have participated in First Cut Lab so far. Workshops are organized in cooperation with film agencies and/or film festivals. The majority of First Cut Lab-supported films are debuts that are regularly awarded in film festivals, most recently the Lion of the Future Award in Venice 2020; the Special Jury Award in Rotterdam 2021; the FIPRESCI Award in Berlinale 2021, etc. First Cut Lab launched First Cut+ in 2020, a programme that consists of advising on the international promotion of a portfolio of 16 feature films per year.