Award-winning British director Dorothy Allen-Pickard, known for her unique, genre-bending storytelling style, signs with The Sweetshop UK. Having already created ambitious projects with global brands, including Fitbit, Nike, Adidas, Google, and Vice, Allen-Pickard is joining The Sweetshop with absolute clarity about the relatable and interdisciplinary work she wants to make.
“There is a raw truth in everything Dorothy creates and a consistent power to her films. She has developed a deep understanding of storytelling and performance through her experience of theatrical, long-form and documentary directing, which combine with her intuitive feel for the edit to create immersive and compelling films whatever medium she is working in,” said Morgan Whitlock, Executive Producer at The Sweetshop UK.
Based in South East London, Allen-Pickard’s filmmaking is deeply inspired by the people and communities she grew up around. She also turns to other disciplines for inspiration, such as dance and, more notably, theatre. The filmmaker is an associate artist at Kestrel Theatre, a company that develops plays in prisons, and a founding member of Breach Theatre.
“I use different techniques to blur genres and create hybrid films”, said Allen-Pickard. “For example, for a short drama about restorative justice, I’m currently working with a cast of ‘non-professional’ actors, who all have experience with the criminal justice system. By combining these techniques, I hope to bring a strong sense of realism and playfulness to my work.”
Allen Pickard’s unique real-life experience storytelling process is achieved through research and experimental development, and improvisational workshops. She’s also working on a short with Guardian Documentaries that uses dramatic reconstruction to get closer to and correctly depict the lived experience of women being spied on in their relationships with undercover officers.
Allen-Pickard’s distinctive, personal, and socially-aware filmmaking style has led to more than a dozen craft awards, including a BFI New Talent Award, New Shoots Award, Best UK Short at Open City Doc Fest, Grand Prix at Arts Convergence, and multiple Vimeo Staff Picks.
Her powerful documentary for Fitbit, “What’s Strong With You,” spotlights different people’s definitions of strength; her intimate, interview-style short for Nike is about the fitness journey of a London-based DJ; and her gripping, PSA-style documentary short for Vice conveys the devastating impact of smoking on one, under-resourced UK community. Pickard has also been deeply involved with “Another Gaze,” a feminist film journal and community she co-founded with Daniella Shreir.
“My desire to make films stems from my love of people, and a curiosity to really get to know them. I believe that through making socially and politically engaged work, we can spark conversations that can affect change,” said Allen-Pickard. “I love how on board with that vision The Sweetshop is, and how there doesn’t seem to be any project too ambitious in their eyes. They’re such a seamless fit for where I want to go with my work.”
After spending all of 2022 assisting Georgi Banks Davies on the Netflix series “Kaos,” Allen-Pickard is deepening her work in the branded space and shifting to directing more long-form and narrative work. She’s currently developing her feature debut and two other projects: the previously mentioned short documentary with Guardian Docs and “Saving Face” with Kestrel Theatre, a stirring short drama about a mother’s attempt to forgive the man who killed her son.
“We are so excited to have Dorothy at The Sweetshop because we know that modern audiences have more competition for their attention than ever before and are increasingly literate across more spaces, familiar with more styles of storytelling,” said Whitlock. “That’s what makes Dorothy so exciting: her ability to move seamlessly between a variety of styles while retaining the impact — that is true craft.”