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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.

Doug Block
Thu 21 Aug 2014Link

The Legal Topic is actually the right one for this, Thomas. Mentoring Room is for "enthusiasts" who don't qualify for pro status.

Gail Mallimson
Wed 8 Oct 2014Link

I am in the finishing stages of my documentary, The Edge of the Wild ( The film tells the story of a 30-year land-use battle over endangered butterflies living on private land in the small town of Brisbane, CA. This local battle resulted in the weakening of the Endangered Species Act 30 years ago that has had detrimental effects on wildlife management across the country. The film follows the fate of the butterflies and is told through the eyes of a resident of the small town who becomes determined to save the butterflies before they die out.

I am starting to plan an outreach program for the film that centers on current attacks on the Endangered Species Act in congress and highlights the species die-off crisis. I have identified potential non-profits that are likely partners in this, but I've never created an outreach program and I don't really know where to start. For instance, when I talk to these people what do I ask?

I do need to do a crowd-funding push to raise the last $10,000 to $20,000 to complete the film, and would like to establish these partnerships before I do this, so that I can access their membership to hit up for the crowd-funding. I am wondering if anyone on the list has created partnerships/sponsorships with enviro groups for their films and what their experiences have been.
Gail Mallimson

John Burgan
Wed 8 Oct 2014Link

Gail, the Mentoring Room is for first-time filmmakers – you should repost this in the Professional Topic Crowdfunding

Natasha Mottola
Thu 23 Oct 2014Link

Can a professional on the D-word need mentoring?

I have been an assistant editor in feature length documentary for the past six years.
The last two films I worked on, I was encouraged by the editor to cut scenes and currently, I am employed as an associate editor on another feature length verité documentary. I am editing a lot and involved in creative discussions, but ultimately, all of my creative work can be overwritten by the editor.

All this is to say is that I still, six years into this all, wonder if I will ever be an editor.
As my d-word profile states: "I am at a point in my career where I have been waiting for a project to call my own, one in which I can devote myself to completely, especially one with meaningful subject matter. I can say with out doubt that I am an excellent editor ready to challenge myself."

I know that there are lots of folks out there who have never assisted, but to those who have, how did you make it out?
One editor friend said to me, "if you want to stop being an assistant, stop taking assistant editor jobs." Easier said than done.

Does anyone have any advice or helpful suggestions?
I'd love to buy you a coffee and chat.

Doug Block
Thu 23 Oct 2014Link

Natasha, you may need mentoring but being as this topic is in the public area not that many professional members will wind up reading it. It's a great question you ask, so though we don't encourage double posting I suggest you cut and past it to the Editing and Post-Production topic in the Professional area.

Natasha Mottola
Thu 23 Oct 2014Link

Thanks Doug. I'll take advantage of the double post pass.

Jesse Yost
Wed 29 Oct 2014Link

Looking for advice on media licensing... the short version is I'm working w/ MTV regarding some footage that would be fairly key to our project, which is a docu about a local, now defunct, music club that catered to local/regional acts as well as big name national acts.

Our guess is that our project will make the film fest route but probably not much more than that unless something crazy happens.

Anyhoo – I've never dealt with licensing clips so I could really use some straight forward explanations of license types, etc. I realize this is pretty standard biz info but I've just never dealt with it and the explanations I've found thus far require being somewhat familiar w/ legalese... which I'm not.

Thanks in advance!

Jill Morley
Wed 29 Oct 2014Link

Hi Jesse,

You will need to contact the owner of the footage and ask them for a festival license. You can try to bargain with them, etc and sometimes you can get lower prices.

Later, if you get worldwide distribution, you will need to go back to them and ask for worldwide rights in perpetuity and pay those prices. We just went through this with ESPN and Madison Square Garden. You will need these to get E and O insurance as well as a distributor. Otherwise, just secure the festival license. Good luck!

Jesse Yost
Wed 29 Oct 2014Link

Thanks Jill!
I've been in touch w/ the footage holder and we're just working out details. In addition to the Primary Display, to which we answered Film Fests, they are asking us for:
Usage (use and timing)
Rights (Territory, term, and media)

Are these things typical?
Since answers from the media holder have long delays I'm trying to submit the correct info all at once and am trying not to send them "What do you mean by X" emails. I just need to know what it is, exactly, they want for answers.

Tom Dziedzic
Thu 30 Oct 2014Link

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

Usually you can get "off-line" archival footage with a watermark or time code for a research fee. Don't buy any festival rights until your film is finished and the edit locked (and maybe until your film actually gets into a festival). Then negotiate for only the footage you actually use in the edit. Best case is getting "all media, worldwide in perpetuity" if you get to that point as Jill pointed out. Good luck with your project.

Edited Thu 30 Oct 2014 by Tom Dziedzic

Andy Schocken
Thu 30 Oct 2014Link

And keep in mind, if there's music in the clip, you'll most likely need to clear that separately.

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.  


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