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The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

This is a Public Topic geared towards first-time filmmakers. Professional members of The D-Word will come by and answer your questions about documentary filmmaking.

Judy Van Wyk
Fri 31 Oct 2014Link

I'm working on a profile of an Indian-American couple and am looking for royalty-free music that's reflects the music of India but also works under narration. I'm finding sitar doesn't work well and is hard to edit. Much of Indian music is lush and streaming w/out clear phrases. I need to find something to use for titles, transitions, and narration and that isn't "over the top" like most movie scores.

Edward Goldberg
Mon 3 Nov 2014Link

Dear Friends,

My company, Catalysta, began publishing documentaries, interviews and roundtables on in September. We would like to distribute the work to broadcasters' websites in the US, Europe and other English-speaking countries.

Would you recommend connecting with a sales agent? If so, agent contact info would be most appreciated.

All related suggestions are welcome.

Thank you!


Vivian Kleiman
Mon 3 Nov 2014Link

In reply to Jesse Yost's post on Wed 29 Oct 2014 :

You've received great feedback. I just want to make a footnote to 1 comment: The notion and going back and asking for more rights later on can be very unpleasant. Instead I suggest that you agree on a fee for all possible territories and usage at once, but only pay for them as the need presents itself.

Mark Rinehart
Wed 12 Nov 2014Link

Re:  Exclusivity legal forms, etc.

Curious if anyone knows where I can find an exclusivity agreement form?  Just need some basic legal "boilerplate" language that states that a subject agrees not to appear any other documentaries, etc...

I am also providing a camera to an individual who will be filming himself.   I need a legal form stating that the footage is owned by producer and can not be used for any other purpose besides the film, etc.   Anyone know of a website where I can download basic legal forms of this nature?  Much appreciated!  


John Burgan
Thu 13 Nov 2014Link

Mark - welcome to The D-Word. The Mentoring Room is just for beginners, so as a Pro member you should re-post this in the Legal Corner

Also, no need to "sign" your name as it appears above each post. Maybe also add a photo to your profile?

dragos ionescu
Thu 18 Dec 2014Link

hello everyone,

i am dragos,a hitchhiker traveler living in amsterdam for the moment who came with the idea to make a one year trip from northern europe to balkans via middle east and till the caucas.

i came here as i wish to document my trip(i see it as a pity that so many adventurous trips people have/had are not properly documented,lack of photos,movies etc and also annoying when u see pretty good shorts about not that wow short hitchin trips like from berlin to prague etc..)

i am totally new to this thingy and want to learn more what i have to know and do about my project.i plan to start my trip in a year and a half,in like may 2016.

now since i am in the mentoring room,i have to ask a couple questions:

1.since it is most likely that noone will travel with me for the whole period,i am prepared to film everything myself,so i was having in mind of maybe some hd camera glasses for those sweet moments when hitchhiking and meeting people etc,and also i was thinking of a gopro cam.any advices regarding this?i don't really have a big budget and i am aware that i need to spend some money on some external hard drives,cards,batteries etc besides the cameras themselves.

2.any good resources on this kind of documentary i want to make,or just something essential for a total begginner like myself?

thanks in advance,


ps. important is to know that this project is meant to be as no budget as possible as that is my traveling style and the project is just to document my experiece.

i will also add a photo to my profile but i cannot from the computer i am using now at the library :P

peace out


Kelsey Killeen
Mon 22 Dec 2014Link

Hi Everyone,

I just joined the site and am hoping to connect with a professional who can provide some guidance.

I recently quit my job in Seattle and moved back home to the east coast to pursue my dream career in documentary filmmaking. I'm a researcher at heart, so I'm particulary interested in being involved in the research/development/pre-pro stages. 

How does a young professional like myself get started in film research without a background in film studies or archives? I'm confident I have the drive, curiosity, resourcefulness, and organization skills to be a valuable part of a team, but I need a chance! 

At this point, any opportunity to learn the ropes and be involved in the making of a film would be amazing. I'm open to being a paid intern or personal assistant and am willing to relocate.

Any suggestions??

Thank you!

Kelsey Killeen  (Resume attached)


Doug Block
Wed 24 Dec 2014Link

Welcome, Kelsey.  I highly recommend you get in touch with researcher extraordinaire Rosemary Rotondi. If she doesn't need help herself my guess is she could steer you towards someone who might.  Her website is:, and feel free to say I suggested you get in touch.  Best of luck!

Edited Wed 24 Dec 2014 by Doug Block

Kelsey Killeen
Wed 24 Dec 2014Link


Thanks so much for the reply! I'm happy to say (because it shows I'm on the right track) that I'm well aware of Rosemary's great work and contacted her recently. She offered some helpful tips, but didn't have anyone specific in mind. She suggested I join IDA, attend events, become a member of or volunteer at local film orgs, and reach out to filmmakers in the Boston area. I'm not set on staying in Mass, so my search will likely be broader. 

I'm hoping someone in the D-Word network might be in need of an assistant or have someone in mind who is. I'm open to any opportunity that would give me some experience and education, as long as I can afford rent and food!

By the way, Doug, I have to say that I saw you on the TODAY Show discussing 112 Weddings and enjoyed the film very much! It's a pleasure to hear from you.





Doug Block
Wed 24 Dec 2014Link

Kelsey, you've demonstated enough seriousness of purpose that we've upgraded you to Professional status on The D-Word.  It will enable you to post your request again in the Professional Classifieds topic, which many more professional members will read.  (The Classifieds are the only topics we permit double posting in.)  You'll have access, as well, to the Research topic here, which you'll hopefully find helpful to read through.

Kelsey Killeen
Wed 24 Dec 2014Link

Thank you so much, Doug! This will be a huge help. I'll re-post in the Professional Classifieds and explore the site in depth. Have a happy holiday!

Doug Block
Wed 24 Dec 2014Link

Ooo, not sure we would have let you in if we'd seen that Red Sox hat, Kelsey :) Make sure to fill out your member profile and also post something about yourself in the Introduce Yourself topic. And happy holidays to you, too!

JB Letchinger
Sun 28 Dec 2014Link

Kelsey, your enthusiasm is refreshing and a powerful asset to you. Those suggestions you’ve received from the research pro were really good ones, also, following suggestions of those whom you respect demonstrates teachability. I should have done that more often, myself! Even as you cast a wider net, and may leave Boston later on, immerse yourself in your current community as best you can. Good luck and feel free to email me anytime with questions.

Yixi Villar
Wed 4 Feb 2015Link

Hello Everyone, so greatful for this forum.  My name is Yixi and I am working on a cancer documenary called"Life In The Balance". I need to shoot an interview with a patient who is in Colorado but I can't get there and he is quarantined so the hospital wont give us permission. To get around it, I was thinking of recording the interview with him via Skype. Does anyone have any recommendations on what is the best Audio & Video recording App for Skype that will transfer to Final Cut without losing quality ? Also, I want to make sure the Audio is on point, should I use an external Mic for him? Any guidance would be much appreiced. Thank you.  


Casey Elliott
Tue 3 Mar 2015Link

Hello All!

I'm a new member to The D-Word and am hoping this is the right place to ask for some advice about how to transition into a career in documentary filmmaking!  I am an Associate Producer with 8 years experience working on reality and documentary-style television programs in various formats, from historical clip shows to docu-series to live television and variety programming. But I am now eager to transition from reality TV to the documentary field, specifically (if possible!) in a research capacity for historical projects.  As a long-time history buff,  I have a genuine affection for research and studying the past. 

I do have work experience and qualifications that I think would make me an ideal candidate for documentary projects, as I'm well-versed in archival research and skilled at navigating through all types of historical databases, whether it's rare collections held by educational institutions, government archives, or private libraries. I also have extensive experience researching and licensing the perfect stock footage for various projects, negotiating releases and clearing all types of materials/people/location/logos etc., and working directly with legal departments to resolve R&C matters. I would love to be able to take what I've learned in these areas and expand on them by working on authentic documentary projects.

And of course, I am willing (and would love!) to work in any capacity that helps me get my foot in the door :-) Any advice or words of wisdom would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance!

I have also attached my resume for reference. 

Casey Elliott

Doug Block
Wed 4 Mar 2015Link

Casey, one way to help your transition is to be a "professional" member of The D-Word, rather than an "enthusiast," so we've upgraded you.  You certainly qualify, and it's a puzzle to us why so many otherwise qualified people who register stop at the "enthusiast" level.  Anyway, you'll now have accerss to all our discussion topics.

Given that you already have a career in documentary, I assume you mean transitioning to making your own films, right?

Casey Elliott
Wed 4 Mar 2015Link

Hi Doug, 

Thanks so much for the comment and upgrade! I wasn't sure if my reality TV background qualified me as a professional, I really appreciate it!

In regards to your question, I'd like to find work on more serious historical documentary projects, but am not sure how or where to find these opportunities. My prior work experience has been on projects that I think fit more into the reality TV genre than the documentary genre (even though some of the series I've worked on had factual/historical content).  I would love the opportunity to work in a research capacity on projects that are more seriously focused on historical topics. I genuinely love to do research and enjoy the challenges associated with finding and analyzing rare historical material.

That being said, I'm not sure how to find work in this area! I've been reaching out cold to various doc filmmakers/production companies but haven't had much success so far. Even though my specific interest is in historical topics, I'm really eager to work in any capacity in the documentary genre, but am having trouble finding available positions.  

Any further advice would be much appreciated! 

Thank you so much!


Doug Block
Wed 4 Mar 2015Link

Casey, I recommend you email D-Word member Rosemary Rotondi and ask her advice.  She's super nice and is an extremely accomplished film archivist.

Erica Ginsberg
Wed 4 Mar 2015Link

In reply to Casey Elliott's post on Wed 4 Mar 2015:

If you aren't already a member of IDA, join and attend some of their Doc-Us and other programs which take place in L.A. Also join Doculink listserv which is technically open to anyone but seems to have a significant number of SoCal folks. Connect with other filmmakers. In a transitional mode like this, I might recommend (if you can afford to do so) connecting with a doc maker working on a historical doc and offering to do some part-time pro bono research work so you can build your track record and references in this area.

Casey Elliott
Wed 4 Mar 2015Link

Thank you Doug - I will definitely email Rosemary for advice! 

and thank you Erica for all the suggestions!! I am a member of the IDA (I just went to the DocuDay they held the day before the Oscars, it was so great!), I definitely hope to attend more of their events in the future. A friend of friend also suggested to me that I join doculink - I've been reading the posts but haven't posted myself. Do you think it's appropriate to post something similar there that I did here?  

And great idea about offering up some research work, I'm happy to do this! I've contacted a few people, but it's been a bit tough finding historical doc projects based in the LA-area, do you happen to know of any filmmakers in LA that might need a little extra research help? Or perhaps I shouldn't limit myself to LA-area, since research can really be done from anywhere?

Thanks again to you both for your advice!!

Bill Jackson
Thu 5 Mar 2015Link

Casey, it looks like you are doing all the right things. D-Word, Doculink, and Docuday, which is the biggest single day for Documentary, here in LA. Good luck!

Casey Elliott
Thu 5 Mar 2015Link

In reply to Bill Jackson's post on Thu 5 Mar 2015:

Thanks Bill! Glad to hear I'm on the right track! Docuday was such a great experience. It's great to have so many opportunities to connect with the doc community :-) 

Emma Holbrook
6 days agoLink

Hi Everyone,

This is an introduction and an asking for feedback post all in one.  I've been making little shorts and been involved on the sidelines with lots of projects for over 15 years now. I've just spent the last two years making my first doc as a director which is all about how the live arts can survive in the regions of the uk following the financial crisis and the cuts to local authorities. I've got to a stage where we're happy with the offline and we're about to do the online edit.

We have our release forms etc but I was wondering if there was anywhere on here I could post the private vimeo link so I can just share it with you guys for any creative or legal feedback that I may have missed?

I'm also trying to get some good distribution advice beyond simply monitization on vimeo etc. The website for the project is which has the film's trailer on the home page. WIll look forward to meeting some of you virtually and reading your feedback.



Doug Block
6 days agoLink

Emma, the reason you can't post the Vimeo link here is you're in the Mentoring topic, which is meant for members known as "enthusiasts" rather than "professionals." Since you're a pro member, you should post again in the Works in Progress topic, where we have video enabled. 

Not sure how long your film is.  If it's a feature, it's unlikely to get too much feedback.  For a short, yes.

Anyway, good to have you aboard here. You'll get the hang of navigating The D-Word soon enough.

Emma Holbrook
6 days agoLink

Ok great Doug, Yes sorry about that, just learning to find my way around at the moment. Thanks.

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