Nurturing Northern Voices

Established in 2018 by Riverhorse to support documentary filmmakers and audiences in the North of England, Northern Docs is a new creative organisation that aims to address the systemic lack of representation within the UK film and television industry through its diverse activities, co-production scheme and distribution support.

There is recognition across the sector that there is a lack of diversity in terms of what factual content is made – and, crucially, who is making it.

Northern Docs is an attempt at affirmative action to address the social, political, cultural and market failures that have led us to this position. The situation we have is not working in the North of England – action is needed to change it.

Based at the Institute of Management, University of Bolton, Northern Docs has been born from a recognition of the specific power and potential of documentary as a social art form that, by its nature, should encourage diverse interpretations and reflections of the world around us. It is a living art form but one that creates history as it goes: history that can reach a mass audience and shape the future.

This new initiative, in collaboration with BBC Three, is committed to creative factual production in all its incarnations: from short form content designed for online and mobile to television projects and feature films. It will focus on work that entertains but also challenges, innovates and informs.

The Team

Mike Todd – Director/Producer

Mike is the founder of Northern Docs, for the last ten years has run Riverhorse, a production company specialising in creative documentaries.

Mike has directed and produced numerous films that have been broadcast and screened internationally, working with broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, PBS, Starz and ESPN. His feature doc on Joe Frazier was US streaming giant Hulu’s first ever documentary of the month and his recent feature doc on Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly was released theatrically here in the UK prior to its national broadcast by the BBC. He has also led on the delivery of a range of consultancy projects for the likes of the UK’s Department for International Development, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the European Commission.


Geseth Garcia – Head of Production

In addition to being an accomplished filmmaker, Geseth has extensive experience in web design and development and leads on Riverhorse’s digital media management and delivery.

She has an MA in Online Journalism and has written articles for the Brussels-based “European Voice” as well as the EU’s Environment Directorate. She has also produced short films for the BBC and Lets Go Global. Other experience includes working as a web content producer for the Co-operative Group and other clients.


Persephone Rizvi – Assistant Producer / Project Coordinator

Skilled in a variety of fields including Media and Business, Persephone has a BA in Television and Radio Production, NCTJ Level 3 Diploma and a MA in Journalism from the University of Salford. She has worked across a variety of international documentary projects and enjoys developing stories.

Previously working for a regional newspaper outlet, P has written feature articles for magazines and online publications. Additionally, she has been a lead returning lifestyle Presenter and Reporter on a Sky TV channel.



Advisory Board

Jeanie Finlay – Filmmaker

Jeanie creates intimate, funny and personal documentary films and artworks. Her focus is on creating compelling portraits and is obsessed with telling other people’s stories. Her work is known for its innovative approach to engaging with audiences in meaningful ways.

Charlie Phillips – Head of Documentaries at the Guardian

Charlie Phillips is The Guardian’s Head of Documentaries, where he oversees the commissioning of international documentaries. Previously, he was the Deputy Director for Sheffield Doc/Fest, one of the top three documentary festivals and markets in the world.

Penny Woolcock – Filmmaker

Penny is an award-winning filmmaker, opera director, artist and writer. Experienced across a wide spectrum of genres including television, documentaries and film, she is known best for creating compelling narratives and deeply humanist angles.


Andy Jones – Filmmaker and Director of Radio Film

Andy is an independent producer/director now based in Newcastle with experience ranging from short docs to multi-part series for BBC and independent feature docs. He was a founder of the ScreenStation collective and now runs Radio Film.

Richard Macer – Documentary maker

Richard is one of the most highly regarded directors working in Britain today and in a career spanning twenty years has made over 40 films.

Colin Stone – Television / Docs Director

Colin is an accomplished Series Producer and Director with many years of experience producing network television programmes covering genres including observational documentary, factual, fact-entertainment, music and current affairs.


Sarah Perks – Artistic Director at HOME

Professor of Visual Art at Manchester School of Art and Artistic Director (Visual Art) at HOME. Sarah is an international curator, film producer and writer, and a specialist in artist film and contemporary art curation.

Sonja Henrici – Director of Scottish Documentary Institute

Co-director and co-founder at the Scottish Documentary Institute (SDI), Sonja has exec produced over 30 short docs which have regularly screened in over 50 countries, including Sundance, IDFA, Tribeca, SxSW.

Aaqil Ahmed – Media Consultant

Former Head of Religion and Ethics at BBC as well as the Head of Multicultural Programming at Channel 4, Aaqil is an award-winning Television Executive with numerous awards, including a BAFTA and Emmy.