Tongo Saa by Nelson Makengo – First Cut Lab Doha 2023


First Cut Lab Doha is designed to assist three feature films (fiction/documentary) from Qatar or the MENA region and one short film from Qatar in the editing phase. DFI grant recipients are also eligible to the Lab.  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. Following this, project teams can submit a new cut to their editing mentor within 1-2 months and receive a 2-hour follow-up consultation on the new cut. 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.


20 April 2024

First Cut Lab Doha 2021 - Doha Film Institute


Application Deadline: 20 April 2024

Each project will have its own dedicated lab session, lasting one full day (for shorts) or two full days (for features). The Lab takes place over two consecutive days. Dates for the main sessions will be assigned to each project and confirmed after the selection process.

The programme will take place online, and each film will be workshopped either in early June, late July, or September 2024.

The exact dates of the Lab will be chosen in agreement with selected teams to best answer the needs of their films. A preferred period for the Lab should be mentioned in the application form.

Please note that the main mentorship sessions span the entire day, as mentioned above. A compulsory one-hour preparatory session will take place online with each creative team one week before their main session.


Lab Fee: 800 QAR (feature projects), 400 QAR (short film projects)


Sample Workshop Schedule – Feature Films (start times may vary depending on project and mentor time zones):
First day:
10:00-12:00 / Individual feedback 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

Sample Workshop Schedule – Short Film(start times may vary depending on project and mentor time zones):
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

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


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 feedback 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 feedback 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 editing and post-production of their films.


1. Application Document (as one PDF or word document)

  • Project Dossier, including:
      • Applicant name, project title, email address and phone number
      • Synopsis
      • Director’s note
      • Key crew & bios
      • Production company information
      • Film stills
      • Supplementary materials as desired (trailer, etc.)
  • A letter outlining your motivation to participate in the lab, describing the project’s current stage, its primary needs and mentioning the preferred lab dates (within the first two weeks of June, Last two weeks of July, or in September)
  • Link(s) to director’s previous work
  • 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.

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

Please send these two documents to on or before 20 April 2024.
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, or a DFI grant recipient.
  • DFI grant recipients are especially encouraged to apply.

Mentors will be:
Matthieu Darras – Lab Advisor (Director of the First Cut Lab)
Suzy Gillett – Editorial Advisor
Qutaiba Barhamji – Editor Mentor
Benjamin Mirguet – Editor Mentor
Sebastian Sepúlveda – Editor Mentor