New here, got a couple docs on the go, been doing it on and off for
about 12 years...thank god for some corporate work to pay the bills..
first project is:
The Moore Tragedy: Suicide or Murder? Documentary, 45 minutes, DV/Beta
SP; The tragic shooting of two young boys leaves many questions after
police call it suicide. Did religious teachings of Armageddon cause
the brothers to end their lives, or were they murdered? The project is
in final rough cut stage.
second project is:
The Walking Wounded, Documentary, 45 minutes, DV/BetaSP; This film is
about the psychological and spiritual after-effects on adults who grew
up as children in a spiritually abusive environment and indoctrinated
with fear. It details personal stories of survival and their search
for healing. In post-production.
My son and I will be heading to HOTDOCS in toronto next month,
hopefully connect with some buyers , future collaborators.
anyway, hope to learn something here
good luck with your projects and hot docs. Would be interesting to
hear your experience when you return.
Andrew, be sure to post this intro in the private conference. This
is the public conference, not very well attended by D-Word Community
Hi everyone. Am currently working on my 4th film, called Player
Hating. It follows the life of a young hip hop artist who struggles
to escape, poverty, alienation and racism through music. 4
Minutes is my collaberative project for The D-Word. My prior
movie was War Zone, a feature doc in which I interview men all
over the country who harassed me on the streets. There is more
info on that film at filmfatale.net, if anyone is interested.
Love being a filmmaker, but am currently struggling with the
struggle. Glad to be a part of this community.
You're in the wrong conference, too, Maggie ;-) Not that there's
anything wrong with sharing here, of course, but I know you mean to be
in the private conference.
Given the traffic here doug - this is more private than the private
Yeah, but that's largely because we haven't made the public area a
priority. That'll change soon, especially with the launch of the
collaborative project on Docuweb.org on June 20. We'll be sending the
public to this conference to interact with the filmmakers. It'll be
Looking forward to that, Doug!
My name's Morgan and and I'm very happy to have found the
I've been in Alaska for 21 years and am working on nature and
historical documentary projects.
I got lucky and scored grant money from the EPA on the first try
for a 60-minute doco on a renowned river in Alaska covering a
time period from 12,000BC to the present. We're also in the
beginning stages of a TV doco about one particular aspect of the
Viet Nam war.
In the summer we conduct 5-7 day/night river expeditions on
extremely remote rivers around Alaska for photography and/or
fishing/wildlife. This helps feed the kids and pay the bills and
also puts us in a position to see and film a wide variety of wildlife
such as Grizzly Bears and other big game.
We've got 4 kids including a little 17-month adventurer named
Zach. Everyone's into the outdoors and I'm grateful we have this
common thread of enthusiam.
We hope to see some D-Word folks up in Alaska in the future.
Give us a call.
Welcome, Morgan. You sound like you should join us in the other
conference ... I'm sure Doug will assist you?
I'm dreaming of a D-word face-to-face on some remote river ...
Welcome...What a great addition to this community you would be,
Morgan! Your project sounds fascinating as well as your expeditions.
Some years back, I took a 250 mile kayak trip the entire length of
the Teslin River in the Yukon (your neighbor to the east)and I must
do it again before too long. I also hope you can join the conference
and participate with all the terrific people in there.
Hey everyone, and thanks Doug for providing this opportunity for
connecting! My name is Mark and I am starting my first doc after
a few short film projects over the years. This experience has
been completely different though! To my mind more risk,
excitement and satisfaction than on any film project I've worked
on to date....!
My Project is called " A Small Church in Oakland"; about a 130
year old church whos congregation must come to grips with its
imminent dissolution, (25 aging members down from a high of
1000), or find some way to bring in fresh blood if it is to survive.
I am currently in the "credit card" production phase... and
furiously putting out grant proposals to cover (at least)
post-production. Yes, "Biting off more than you can chew" seems
to be the way to go with docs...Yet somehow, (I dont know why) I
have complete faith the money will come in to get his thing
made...happy to be here.. thanks!
Ben & Steven,
Thanks for the warm welcome. Look forward to chatting further.
Hi folks - My name, obviously, is Linda. I just stumbled on this
conference while checking out a private conf. I attend here at Utne.
This is amazing. What talent here!
I'm a desktop publisher/graphic artist turned copywriter turned
writer/journalist with a few CO Press Association Awards under my
belt. My projects now are varied and some are getting rather deep.
One is about a woman in Zimbabwe teaching AIDS orphans (mostly young
girls) to grow mushrooms for sustenance and survival on on physical
and on a social level. Am in the process of gathering funding for
Morgan's post jogged my juices on a project my brother has been
embroiled with in Colorado - my brother is a hydrogeologist who is
currently drowning in a debate over a local dam project.
Both of these works could benefit from film. This is something I have
absolutely no skill with, although I'm a huge fan of the power of
documentaries. I'll be lurking and learning more about all of you, if
that's ok...and if you all don't mind me asking some questions along
the way, I would be most honored.
Ask away. Always nice to see someone pop into the public conference.
Yes, welcome and fire away, Linda.
I have a feeling I'll be repeating myself down the road, but I would
like to know how you all go about getting projects for your films -
are they your own ideas, or do most of you work with
The second question is how you get your funding? When you are tapped
for a project, do you have a fixed rate? Or are you flexible,
depending upon the project and your interest?
How's that for a beginning?
Most documentary filmmakers get involved in a project because it's
something they care about enough to find the time and money to see it
through to completion. The idea may be self-generated, happenstance,
or from a third party who brings an idea to a filmmaker.
Some documentary films are commissioned by a network, corporation,
organization, or advocacy group. With rare exceptions, these are
actually public relations films. Documentary filmmakers take on these
assignments because they need to earn a living.
Funding for social issue documentaries comes from foundations or
individuals within that specific community circle.
Most documentary filmmakers have a sliding fee scale based on value
and pain. Their highest rates are reserved for commercial clients
who usually demand editorial control and copyright ownership. Most of
us work for free on our projects hoping to get paid after the film is
finished assuming it gets distribution. Less than 10% of the
documentaries made get any kind of distribution. Theatrical release is
likely less than half a percent. Television or on video is where most
high-quality docs end up. It's a complete crapshoot so most treat
doc filmmaking as a hobby and do other things to pay the bills.
It's my guess that there are less than 100 people in the United States
who earn their living solely from making documentaries.
Robert makes a good distinction between independent doc filmmakers,
who usually produce their own ideas, and doc companies, which often
pitch a number of ideas to broadcasters, usually cable channels but
sometimes PBS or HBO, as well. Or get hired to make programming.
When he throws out an estimate like that, I think he's talking about
the indies. There are far more than that earning their living helping
produce doc series. Let's not even get into "reality" tv or
As far as agents for documentaries, I wish. At least the William
Morris kind. But there are international sales agents (like Jan
Rofekamp of Films Transit) who (very occasionally) help filmmakers
with worthy projects find financing through foreign broadcasters like
Arte or the BBC.
"Most documentary filmmakers have a sliding fee scale based on value
and pain." _ hm. That's very similar to many of the arts I've been
exposed to. I tend to call the "public relations" as commercialism,
and I hate it. I have to keep reminding myself it's a necessary evil
to do other projects that are my loves.
I didn't realize - or think about - pitching to HBO or PBS. I've been
so steeped in the 'paper trail' that I've only looked at journalism
sources for money. You guys are really opening a new door for me
(when the student is ready...)
I'm wondering if the press leads I have would be willing to finance
documentary sides to the projects I have...
Part of all this is to learn the difference between all the names you
all are giving to the docs. I'm sure I understand the PR types, and
the indies. I'm not sure what you mean by "reality" tv or magazine-
type shows, Doug? Perhaps if you explain, I'm sure I'll know what
you're talking about.
"Survivor" is reality tv. "Sixty Minutes" is news magazine.
Linda - Doug is correct about my reference to (indy) doc filmmakers
making a living solely from docs. E.g, the Maysles made a lot more
money selling their style for commercials then they ever did do docs.