As economics editor for Channel 4 News in the U.K. and the author, most recently, of PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future, Mason is well-suited to examine the tumultuous recent history of Greece, which has confronted both creditors and the European Union on the austerity measures that have crippled the country’s economy.

Alongside frequent co-conspirator Theopi Skarlatos, Mason tracked the political upheaval in Greece; Skarlatos directed their collaborative fourpart series, #ThisIsACoup, while Mason produced and narrated the films. In this wide-ranging conversation, he talks about capturing the moment when hopes were at the highest, striving for access to key Syriza politicians navigating new power and internal party disagreements, and what he hopes other journalists can learn from the film.

How did you first come to follow what’s going on in Greece?

Mason: I was at the Davos conference in January 2010 at the moment that it had dawned on everybody that Greece had a bunch of debt that was completely unpayable. I remember the then-prime minister, George Papandreou, surrounded by journalists, thinking to myself, “Shit, I know what’s going to happen here.”

I have a connection with Greece going back to the mid-1980s — a family connection to the Greek left, when the Greek left was so tiny that its conferences could be in a very small room. By 2010, there’d been a ton of unrest among young people, even in the very good years. During the period of the anti-globalization movement, when Seattle and Prague were going up, the Greeks were massively involved in that.

So I knew two things: one, how badly Greek society would take it if a huge austerity problem was imposed. And two, that the Greek left was serious, that it had spent 20 or 30 years becoming mature, becoming ambitious for power. It was not out of the question that if Greece went into a crisis, it was something that had the power to blow the whole societal system of the country apart.

So I can remember that moment [looking at] Papandreou, thinking, “I have to get back in touch with everybody. This is going to be big.” By May of that year, I was in Athens reporting on the first austerity program, which by now seems relatively mild. But it was enough to effectively bring the government down.

Had you anticipated how things might go down this past January with the elections?

Mason: On election night, me and Theopi looked at each other, saying, “We have to record this, because it’s going to be an epic clash.” We weren’t certain the Europeans would smash [the newly elected government], but two people said to me — sources I won’t name, one on the left of Syriza, one in the very heart of the global banking system — “Are these guys crazy? This is fucking Europe they’re dealing with. This is Goldman Sachs.”

Here are some intelligent voices on the fringes saying there is going to be absolute catastrophe, they’re going to take them on, and the Europeans will destroy Greece. But there’s people in the center of Syriza saying, “Hey it’s fine, we’ve been told — Renzi told us, Obama told us — it’s all going to be fine.” It was a car crash that you could see from the first night of election.

What was your strategy for reporting and capturing the story?

Mason: We didn’t know how this was going to end, or when it was going to end, but we both assumed there would be a two- or three-month period in which there would be a kind of Greek spring. And we knew [after that] there would be some kind of a deal, some kind of a compromise with Europe. And after that’s over, that people will feel deflated. And we’ve got to capture the moment when hopes were at the highest, because there are a bunch of other left movers in Europe who will want to learn from it.

One thing we decided was to push into the countryside and record the deep Greece, as I call it. I’d spent almost 24 hours a day reporting on that January election, and I never even left Athens. So we said number one, deep Greece. Number two, working class Greece.

Then the third thing we wanted was the story of the radical movement. There is a place in Athens called Exarcheia, which is like the old Left Bank combined with the old Lower East Side combined with the old Berkeley of ’68. It’s impossible to get a camera into it, even on a good day, even when you have a hoodie and a big T-shirt with Che Guevara on it — that camera is going to be atomized in the moment, as long as it’s late enough in the day for the guys of the movement to actually be awake.

So we challenged ourselves to just go and push cameras out, to find people who’d want to talk to us. We knew we’d get the government side, but you have to work really hard to get a coherent narrative out of the people.

Did you have any idea of what you were going to hear in the countryside?How did one aspect of your work inform the other? The functioning as a Channel 4 broadcaster and economist, and pursuing this film project?

Mason: I knew that this would be the biggest political economic story of 2015. I didn’t know then there would be a refugee crisis on the same scale — something that doesn’t really feature heavily in the movie. But the fact that I’m a day-to-day journalist means I couldn’t be there all the time, so what I did was put my name to an appeal for funds. I put my name to producing the film. And for me producing is an unusual role because normally I’m reporting, I’m hands-on with the filming. Theopi is a longtime collaborator of mine. I knew if I could just raise the money to put her there in the situation that she could find the right people — we would eventually have a story.

In the interim I had to cover the British election. I had to cover a bunch of other stories that are quite interesting, and one gets sent around to do them. But I realized I couldn’t sleep and do my day job unless I knew I had a handle on the whole Greek situation. That’s why I put myself in the unusual role of producer.

Were you in touch frequently with Theopi, hearing about what she was filming and finding?

Mason: I would consult week by week and say, “What are you doing this week?” Theopi is the kind of journalist who will follow the story, cover those two extremes — pretty pictures, as it were, and rioting, and sometimes the two are the same. I didn’t have to micromanage the shooting — what I did was concentrate on building the journalistic relationship with the key politicians, and that took us some time.

We hear from [then-Finance Minister Yanis] Varoufakis and the other guy, [Euclid] Tsakalotos, who is now the finance minister, fairly early on, but it took us some time to get ourselves accepted and trusted inside the Maximo, which is the mansion of the prime minister, in terms what we were actually trying to do. They were trying to run a country in the midst of a crisis, and they were also a very inexperienced party — they struggled to do the daily news framing that the White House or 10 Downing Street would do.

So having to deal with documentary filmmakers was a complete low order for them. But I spent some time trying to think through how to solve that problem and eventually, in the movie, I think we did.

You solved the problem in terms of gaining access, or deepening the access you had?

Mason: This was a party that eventually split. Between January and August there were internal disagreements going on, and I found it sometimes difficult to understand, because whenever they’re speaking to me on camera, or even off camera, they’re trying to minimize the amount of internal disagreement that there was. In retrospect we know more about it, but at the time, if people say something to you as a journalist, you can only believe them until you have evidence to the contrary.

It was navigating that issue rather than the problems of access. By the time of what we call the “rupture,” the time when they threw off the relationship with the IMF and said fuck you — by that time we had [established] a mutual trust, which enabled me and Theopi to maintain our independence as journalists and draw boundaries. But you know, we’ve had to struggle, fight, hustle, for every time we got the access.

Where do you see the film fitting within the spectrum from news to documentary, from the topical to the historical? You’re putting it out there much quicker than most documentaries, but not as quickly as if it were straight news.

Mason: I’ve done enough news on this — this is certainly not news. It’s not even current affairs analysis. It is a film in four parts that you could quite easily watch, and in its later iterations I think it will be watched as a whole. It is a film in four parts that has the ambition to be cinematic, that has the ambition to also tell a deeper story.

In Syd Field’s book about screenwriting, he said to take a phrase that must sing throughout the film and tape it to your typewriter. And here that phrase is “Europe smashed the first left government in modern history. The politicians made mistakes, but the people were always really strong.” That’s what it’s about.

The film is pure chronology — we did a ton of retrospective interviews with key people, but in the end almost none of it fits in the documentary, because we realized once we got to the edit that we could stay in the moment for almost the entire movie. In terms of the turnaround time, we were clear to our funders that we wanted to make the first draft of history, but as a documentary.

I’m not worried about the fact that other documentaries will come out. I’m not rushing to beat people because I know that we have the story. The only thing that could beat it would be a fictional feature film that could tell the story of all the secret meetings, which we can’t tell.

If I were to sit on the rushes of this and wait five years until everyone has written their memoirs, Syriza is out of power and everyone can come clean about what’s going on, then certainly it will be a more valuable historical document, but it might not be more accurate or fresh. The brilliant thing about working with Laura [Poitras] is that she understood that for some documentaries, timeliness is important. And also that the platform allows you to play with the genre.

Were you uncertain as you went along of where would be your end point? It could have come at the end of episode 3, but the episodic structure allows you to have these multiple climaxes or multiple endpoints, which seems like an accurate depiction of how it all went down.

Mason: The interesting thing for us was the moment that they won the referendum. You know, either they win or they lose and that’s going to be the end of the thing. So they defeated the dragon, and either a bigger dragon will come eat them or the big dragon is going to fly off into the distance and they shout hurray. And that was right — the climax is the moment they win the referendum and the end is the moment that they completely surrender despite having won the referendum. We really knew that.

One of the biggest challenges I had, as somebody who is managing, by that time three crews every day — sitting there coming off the end of my day job at 10 p.m. every night — was trying to take stock of what’s happening and then reorganizing people for the next day. I felt a bit like Mozart in the film Amadeus. He’s trying to write two things at once, and we were doing that.

During that time we’re trying the hardest we can to keep ourselves going, but we knew the biggest climax had already happened, and we said again and again how many more shots of people queuing at ATMs do we need? We keep saying the queues don’t differ — there is no dynamic to them, there is just this horrible status like economic snowfall, and it makes everything quiet.

Nevertheless it was still valuable that you were filming. There was more of the story to tell. And you were the right people to tell it.

Mason: I’m very keen to leave behind in Greece some greater capacity to do this kind of journalism. Nine-tenths of the Greek broadcast and print media is hostile to Syriza, hostile to social justice, and has been described at oligarchic, corrupt, and totally biased. The other tenth are really good journalists who have had no money for five years.

The left government comes into power, and many of them have personal skin in the game of that left government and therefore when it comes to asking difficult probing questions and thinking really objectively — I wouldn’t expect them to do that because they are reliant on the good will of the mass movement that has brought this government to power. The kind of media that needs to be in Greece is independent of the left government, critical of it, asks it tough questions, but also is not in the pocket of oligarchs, money launderers and criminals who have been running that country for 70 years.

I am determined to leave behind teams of people who watched how Theopi and I worked. We’re both BBC-trained journalists — watch how we work and understand that it is possible. Objectivity towards the issue and responsibility towards your participants — basic, obvious public service journalism that barely exists in Greece. One of the first things I want to do when I get this edit out of my hair is get back there and do seminars around the movie, around the film with the people who were involved with it. What did we learn and what can we cascade down to our fellow colleagues in the Greek media?

How would you anticipate the film might be received in Greece, as well as the type of journalism you’d like to see pursued there?

Mason: Whatever the beauty of the shots, however brilliantly constructed the narrative is, the mere fact of seeing behind the scenes in this government is such a head fuck. Because no other media have got it.

Everybody who is Greek that’s seen rushes or excerpts from this, they tend to clutch at their throat and go, “Wow, I’ve never seen this. I’ve never seen the prime minister’s office. Who knew the chief of staff has a bust of Lenin on his desk?” It’s going to do their heads in, but after it does their heads in, I want them to say, “Well, what happened? What did we learn from that?”

#ThisIsACoup, Episode I: “Angela, Suck Our Balls” #ThisIsACoup, Episode II: To Pay or Not to Pay? #ThisIsACoup, Episode III: Oxi — The Greek Word for “No” #ThisIsACoup, Episode IV: Surrender or Die

IF/Then Shorts, in partnership with Hulu Documentary Films calls short-documentary filmmakers based in North America to take part in the Inaugural IF/Then x Hulu Short Documentary Lab. This lab will channel Hulu and IF/Then’s shared vision of creating a new pipeline of diverse talent and incubating strong voices who will be the next class of non-fiction storytellers.

Program Details:

Four filmmaking teams will be chosen to participate in a one-year lab focused on short-documentary production and career training. For the first six months, filmmakers will be individually mentored through production by IF/Then staff and take part in monthly virtual cohort trainings, consisting of keynotes from industry heavy-hitters and edit consultations. Upon rough cut of their projects, filmmakers will be invited to debut their works-in-progress to an invitation-only audience and receive feedback. For the remainder of the program, filmmakers will finalize their cuts and receive high-level festival and distribution strategy consultations, along with guidance creating their publicity materials, and pro-bono legal support. Hulu will have the right to review the projects for potential acquisition or further development.

Each team will receive a $25,000 grant to use for the production of their film.

This opportunity will be open to individuals living in/from North America, with an emphasis on Black and/or Indigenous filmmakers, people of color, women, LGBTQ+, recent immigrants, and individuals who identify as having a disability. We will welcome any and all stories from underrepresented voices, with a strong preference around subjects related to gender, the LGTBQ community or issues unique to the BIPOC community.

Project Eligibility:

  • In addition to the identity eligibility of the maker and the theme, eligible IF/Then Shorts projects must meet the following criteria:
  • Be an original short documentary with a final duration of 10-20 minutes
  • Be completed within six to nine months of receiving the IF/Then Shorts grant
  • Be factually accurate, follow best practices in documentary ethics, and be designed for a U.S. audience
  • Be driven by (a) compelling character(s), with access to the character(s) secured
  • Be presented in English or subtitled in English
  • Have no prior distribution attached and be able to participate in the IF/Then Shorts distribution initiative
  • All stories and storytellers coming from countries and territories in North America. This includes the United States and its territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa,) Canada, Greenland, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela, and countries in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Clipperton Island, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Saba, St. Andres and Providencia, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands.


The application portal will open on January 15, 2021 and close at 11:59pm EST on Feb 15th.

  • January 15, 2021: Open call for IF/Then x Hulu Short Documentary Lab
  • March 31, 2021: Finalists announced
  • April 5, 2021: Virtual Program Kickoff


Submissions are now closed.

Please direct any questions regarding this application to

Starting July 22, IF/Then Shorts has a new home at Field of Vision. Joining Field of Vision will be IF/Then Shorts Program Director Chloe Gbai and Supervising Producer Caitlin Mae Burke. Founded in 2017 with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, IF/Then Shorts is a fund and mentorship program that supports storytellers in breaking barriers to access, exposure, and sustainability in the media landscape. IF/Then works with creators who experience inequity based on factors such as race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, ethnicity, age, citizenship, and/or geography.

IF/Then Shorts taps into the need for broader geographical representation in the stories that get told through its regional pitch events. It holistically supports short documentary storytellers in their creation of compelling, character-led, community-inspired stories that embody the breadth and diversity of the people and places they represent.

The program addresses the imbalance of representation, perspective, power, compensation, and career longevity among independent filmmakers and media artists. IF/Then Shorts leverages access, expertise, network, and brand to address these challenges. Through grants, mentorship, industry connections, and professional development, IF/Then Shorts helps to ensure that storytellers from a multitude of backgrounds have access to the resources and tools they need to tell their stories, connect with audiences, and thrive in their careers. IF/Then Shorts was previously part of the Tribeca Film Institute, which is planning to pause operations indefinitely in September. "IF/Then Shorts is an incredible program, and one that’s vital to the field," said Charlotte Cook, Field of Vision's Co-Founder and Executive Producer. "We’re so glad that they can find their new home with Field of Vision. The program’s values align perfectly with Field of Vision, and further our overall commitment to shorts and advocating for filmmakers. Chloe and Caitlin are phenomenal, and I feel so lucky that they’ll be joining our team."

IF/Then Program Director Chloe Gbai said of the move: "We’re so excited that thanks to the MacArthur Foundation and Field of Vision we can keep this funding and development pipeline open to diverse, creative nonfiction talent past TFI’s pause this September. This program will have a new life and is ready to uplift the voices that we need to champion during these interesting times."

Supervising Producer Caitlin Mae Burke added: "As a former Field of Vision filmmaker myself, I know how beneficial it is to work with these trailblazers in the short documentary space. I'm overjoyed that all of our active projects and future supported filmmakers will benefit so immensely from this move, and we look forward to the tremendous growth potential for IF/Then possible under the Field of Vision umbrella." IF/Then is currently holding an open call for the North Shorts Grant and Fellowship, in partnership with Points North Institute, The Screening Room, Jigsaw Productions, and the LEF Foundation, for regional filmmakers in the American Northeast. About Chloe Gbai Chloe Gbai is the Director of IF/Then Shorts. Previously, as the POV Shorts and Streaming Producer, she launched POV Shorts, which earned POV its third documentary short Oscar® nomination, two News & Doc Emmy nominations and an IDA Awards nomination for Best Short Form Series.  She has previously worked at Teen Vogue and Viacom, as well as served on review panels and juries for the National Endowment for the Arts, Sheffield Doc/Fest, ITVS, IDA Awards, Black Public Media, Creative Capital, and various other film organizations. She is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia and a member-in-residence of the Meerkat Media Collective.

About Caitlin Mae Burke Caitlin Mae Burke is an Emmy-winning producer. Her films have screened and won awards at top tier festivals including Sundance, Berlinale, and Tribeca Film Festival and have been broadcast across the US and around the world. Her work has screened at MoMA, The Museum of the Moving Image, and in movie theaters internationally. She is an inaugural inductee to DOC NYC's "40 Under 40" and alumna of Berlinale Talents. IF/Then currently has funding opportunities available for filmmakers. Please find more information here.

Field of Vision has partnered with Doc Society and Sundance Institute to launch Independent Documentary: Filming in the Time of Corona, a new Risk Assessment Guide for independent documentary filmmakers who are considering starting or resuming production during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Many filmmakers are asking themselves — and others in the documentary field — the big question: Should I be filming at all?

As our field discusses and debates this particular question — and its ethical and and public health implications — Field of Vision, Doc Society, Sundance Institute, and our co-signatories are offering a “living document” that provides guidelines, a checklist, and questions for independent documentary film teams to ask themselves, each other and their partners. It is our hope that this guide will help filmmakers make informed decisions and help keep everyone safe.

We’d like to acknowledge our gratitude to all of the the co-signatories of the Risk Assessment Guide, who helped consult on, and improve the guide: Asian American Documentary Network (ADoc), Asociación de Documentalistas de Puerto Rico (ADocPR), ACOS (A Culture Of Safety) Alliance, Ambulante, American Documentary/POV, Black Public Media, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Chicken & Egg, DOCUBOX, Impact Partners, Indian Documentary Foundation, Latino Public Broadcasting, National Association of Latino Producers (NALIP), Pacific Islanders in Communications, Perspective Fund, Scottish Documentary Institute, Topic, Vision Maker Media: Native Stories for Public Broadcasting, and others.

This is a rapidly changing situation as well as a long-term reality. Those of us in the documentary field will need to be mindful, flexible, and diligent as our risk assessment continues to evolve in order to keep not only our community safe but also the communities we collaborate with in the stories we tell. This new normal is unprecedented, but our documentary community is nothing if not committed to responding to this profoundly unique situation.

The guide will be updated as the situation develops and as we receive additional feedback from filmmakers and support organizations.

The final round of funding is now closed.

For this final round of funding, we will continue prioritizing providing support to filmmakers of color and filmmakers from other marginalized communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Field of Vision and Topic Studios have created a $250,000 fund to provide grants for freelancers working in the Documentary field. The fund will distribute unrestricted grants of up to $2000 to support personal financial needs during the COVID19 pandemic to freelancers who have experienced hardship from loss of income or opportunity as a result of the pandemic

Dates and Deadlines


The fund will be open for applications from Wed April 8th from 9am ET until Friday April 10th at 6pm ET or until we reach 1,000 applications. You can find the link to the application at the bottom of this page.


The fund will be open for applications from May 6th from 9am ET until May 8th at 6pm ET or until we reach 750 applications.

Notification of grant approval will be within 20 days of the fund closing, and payments will be processed within 30 days of notification of a grant. June The fund will be open for a final round of applications from June 10th from 9am ET until June 12th at 6pm ET or until we reach 500 applications.


Be able to demonstrate work as a freelancer within the documentary field in roles such as:

- Directors - Producers (This includes Associate Producers) - DPs - Editors - Sound Recordists/Designers - Researchers - Assistants - Critics & Writers who have covered documentaries - Publicists

Other freelance roles will be accepted if they meet the rest of the criteria

Provide a link (examples - IMDB page, Film Review, Direct link to project) that shows professional work in the field.

The fund is eligible for artists internationally, however you must be able to receive funding electronically (we are not able to issue checks), and priority will be given to countries and regions of which there isn’t government freelance assistance that you are eligible for. If you have not been eligible for government assistance, please state that in your application.

Students who are currently enrolled are not eligible.

People who are currently in employment are not eligible.

Please note: We have made every effort to reduce the amount of information, paperwork and requirements for funding and have tried to make the fund as open and accessible as possible. We are largely operating on a trust-based system and really urge you to work with us on being able to maintain this. It’s extremely important to us to be able to get funding to the freelancers that need it the most. Please answer all questions thoroughly and accurately so that we can ensure the funds are allocated to help as many people in need as possible.

Information Needed:

- Demonstrated professional work within the field - Usual income source - Description of situation - Maximum amount requested - Minimum amount requested - What the funding would be used for - Location

Please note: It’s important to include a maximum and minimum amount requested. Also, please note that grants may be taxable as income under the law that applies to you. We will issue Form 1099s for grants of more than $600.

The Process

As always, it is important to us that filmmakers lead how we operate and respond, and so the process will begin with a blind review of applications by a panel of filmmakers and producers, with a simultaneous review by the Field of Vision and Topic Studios teams. Those recommendations will then provide the recommended list for funding, which will then be reviewed once more before contacting the fund recipients.

We will only be contacting those who have been allocated funding.

On receipt of the grant acceptance please expect up to 30 days to receive payment. In order to issue the grants we will need a W-9 or W8-BEN tax form and an invoice which includes wire transfer details.

UPDATE: Our first 200 meeting slots have been booked. However, you can still sign up for the waitlist at the links below as we work to add additional appointment times. Coming this spring, the Field of Vision team will again offer a virtual "office hours" service for the documentary community. As we’re in a moment of uncertainty, we want to make ourselves available to filmmakers in any way we can. We understand that the industry is experiencing a lot of upheaval, and that this is a particularly difficult time for freelancers and people working independently.

We will be allocating time every weekday to have video meetings and calls. We’ll be prioritizing filmmakers who’ve been affected by festival postponements and production changes, but will also be available to offer a range of mentorship and consultation around a variety of areas.

At Field of Vision we like filmmakers to lead and improve how we work. We were inspired by Jeanie Finlay, who has opened her time to mentoring after an upcoming film shoot had to be cancelled. Jeanie is working on a new film that we’re extremely honoured to be supporting. 

We are a small team and will try our best to make ourselves available to as many filmmakers and producers as possible. If any other members of our community would also like to donate their time, we are happy to facilitate this as well, so please feel free to reach out to us.

The areas which we would like to offer consultation on are below: 

  • General mentorship
  • Feedback on proposals and grant applications
  • Project Development
  • Online Distribution
  • Digital Engagement
  • Partnerships
  • Pitch Training
  • Editing
  • Technology & Digital Security
  • Distribution
  • Editorial Feedback
  • Festival Strategy
  • Career Guidance

This is not just open to filmmakers wanting to submit work for us to review, or filmmakers we have worked with before. If you feel you would benefit from time with our team on any project you’re working on please feel free to reach out. There are more details on how to take part below.



If you would like to have a virtual meeting about any of the above, please follow this link to book a time:

(We will also be adapting to demand, and will create a waitlist, and/or increase availability if needed.)

Submissions & Pitches

While we are still managing and prioritizing our regular submissions system, we would also like to make time for project and pitch meetings.

To sign up for a pitch meeting with us, please make sure you have submitted through our system prior to the meeting, using the link below:

Once you have submitted through our submissions form, please sign up for a meeting slot here. NB: We won’t be able to take any meetings around potential projects until you’ve submitted through the system. If you’re not ready to discuss a specific project, or are looking for more general advice, please use the first form.

Please bear with us as we begin rolling out our virtual office hours service. This initiative came together very quickly, so there may be hiccups. We just wanted to offer something to start. 

As we navigate these uncertain times, what is certain is that we are a strong community of creatives and storytellers. We have shown time and again how resourceful we are, how dedicated we are to our craft, art form and field, and how supportive we can be of each other. 

Please stay safe everyone, The Field of Vision Team


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