Introduce Yourself: Sign In Here First

Introduce Yourself

  • Public

Welcome to The D-Word! Stop in and sign the guest book - let us know a little (or a lot) about yourself.

Please note that this is one of our Public Topics, so best to enter email addresses with (at) to prevent them being harvested. Spam will be deleted.

Kai Hagen
Welcome to The D-Word Community's public front porch.

Please take a moment on your way in to let folks know you are here...
Doug Block
I'm a documentary director, producer and cameraman living in New York
City. My last film was a personal doc about personal home pages
called Home Page. Have my own home page called The D-Word (www.d- where for four years I kept an ongoing journal about the
process. A year ago it morphed into The D-Word Community.

My other doc credits include: The Heck With Hollywood!, Silverlake
Life, Jupiter's Wife and A Perfect Candidate. I'm currently co-
producing Jennifer Dworkin's ITVS documentary, The Long Way Home, and
shooting a feature doc about the history of the Attica uprising for
Lumiere Productions.
Craig Foye
I would really like to see a documentary on the attica uprising.

I'm not a film-maker, but it is something I'm very interested in. I
will probably just lurk for the most part... and learn. Thanks for
opening the place doug and kai.
Robert Goodman
I'm a documentary writer/producer/director living in Philadelphia. I'm
currently in postproduction on a feature doc entitled, "Gifts in the
Mail," about the 100 year history of the American Picture Postcard. My
other credits include: America's Dream Highway, The Road Taken,
Philadelphia Green, From Seed to Flower, and Going Digital. I'm also a
contributing editor for The Independent Film & Video Monthly,
Videography, and Digital Cinema (a new magazine launching in October).
And one of the authors of "A Guide to Digital Television" and the
forthcoming "American Society of Cinematographer's Digital Video
Leif Utne
Welcome to the Café, Doug and Robert. Here's hoping the
D-Word community really takes off.

Also: here's Doug's website, unwrapped
Doug Block
Thanks, Leif. Welcome, Craig. I should add that Robert and I are
members of The D-Word Community. I'll let the folks there know to
identify themselves as members when they sign in here in the future.

Feel free to contact any D-Word Community member who comes in here by
clicking on the link next to their name, which will give you their
email address.
Ben Kempas
*** WARNING *** This is a D-Word Community member. *** I bite, but not
on a regular basis. ***

I'm Ben Kempas from Munich, 27 years young.

I'm somewhere between graduating film school and establishing as a
documentary director, earning a iving from all sorts of camera work
and editing, both of fiction and factual stuff.
Our company is which also gave me that im-pressive
So far, my documentaries have been in the political/social/cultural
I am kind of bound to Scotland ... three of my last four documentaries
dealt with Scottish issues, and we even have a branch there.
Mark Birnbaum
I produce, direct, shoot, and edit documentaries from my home base in
Dallas, Texas. I'm currently shooting an ITVS-funded film, "Larry v.
Lockney," about a small town in West Texas that has adopted the
toughest high school drug testing policy in the US. Also shooting
"¡Salsa Caliente!", about the art, lifestyle, and music of salseros,
who live to dance.

Small format digital cameras changed my life. And now, with the
advent of desktop video, like Final Cut Pro, I'm living the Socialist
Dream: the tools of production in the hands of the workers! I am a
truly independent producer.

Looking forward to continued discussions, here at the Utne Cafe.
John D. Williams
Hi, Mark! We're neighbors. I live in Cleburne, Texas about 57 miles
down the pike (U.S. 67).

Glad to see D-Word up and running. I was a member of the original
incarnation having seen Doug's film at the Hot Springs Documentary
Film Festival in October 1999. At the time I was teaching video and
film classes and managing the university's LPTV station. Since then,
however, I've returned to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in
Rhetoric at UT-Arlington. I no longer teach the production classes
or run the TV station. When I learned D-Word was moving to a new
host, I decided it was best not to follow. Then Doug e-mailed me (as
a current member) that at Cafe Utne there would be a public space.

This part of D-Word will be perfect for me. Whoever thunk of it is a
prince [bet that's you, Doug :-) ]

Doug is responsible for getting me connected online with a lot of
wonderful folks. One year later my life is much different. Much
richer. I'm a trained conference host and run a conference for my
students and alumni. Thanks, Doug. [Ha-ha! made you blush!]

All for now, I guess.
Deleted User
Hi, My name is Greg Pierce from Portland,Or. I have only produced a
few short films at The Northwest Film Center in Portland Oregon, but
very good ones I must say. Although I am rather inexperienced in the
film industry, I have so many people here in Portland that are very
excited about my current project. The film is called "e" How much do
you really know? This film focuses on the "many truths" surrounding
ecstasy, a highly unkown and controversial drug. It hopes to show
both pros and cons, and focuses on the unexplored aspects of the past
and present. We are 10 months into the projects and have interviews
with Users, Dealers, Goverment Officials, Raves, Psychiatrist,
Doctors, Researchers, Harm-reduction activist, and many more.

I am currently a member of a group of independent filmmakers at AMP
Studios. We have a full editing suite, cameras, lighting equipment,
and a fabulous staff of creative talent. I am even using one of the
3D animation specialist there to create a virtual walkthrough of how
MDMA interacts with the brain and possible neurotoxicity when over
used. We are being very careful to follow what has been the latest
research, and my God it's been a very painful process. The science is
always changing. Everyone at AMP pays a membership fee per month and
we get access to tons of equipment and invaluable talent from
compassionate artist willing to spend a day or two on another members

As far as where this film will be shown, we have high hopes that HBO
or Showtime will pick it up here in the States. PBS would be a last
resort. I am up for other suggestions though. I feel HBO has the best
target audience and we can show the film in it's entirety. Another
edited down version which would be shown through the school systems
would be another goal of mine. I will also be touring with the film
to different documentary festivals around the country. Resfest may be
the first since we have shot most of this film on 3 chip digital

My next trip out from Portland would be to Wayne State University in
Detroit. There is a neurotoxicity study being done there. From there
I would come out to Montreal and get an interview with a couple of
authors of the latest book on E. If other funding becomes available I
would be looking into the UK ectasy scene. I would also be going over
to Holland and Switzerland as well for other purposes.

My main concern as of now is the lack of funding to finish this
project. I want to have complete control of the content of the film
and the way it's edited. My hope is that one of you who may have a
passion for this subject would help in guiding me to the right
source. I am also wanting some information on distribution matters. I
have no clue what a company like HBO would pay for a feature length
documentary. If you can help, please give me a reply.

Hope to hear from one of you soon.


Greg Pierce
Stephen Colvin
Greg, Hang in there baby! If you make a specific request, maybe one
of our editors and producers can help finish your project, mindful
that you want control of the final cut...Steve at
Jen Williams
Hello. I might be the only non-professional posting here so far. I
am here because I love to watch documentaries. I'm a writer, and I
appreciate the tremendous capacity for storytelling inherent in this
unique artform. These films have brought me into worlds and
experiences that in some cases I would never have had. They can
illuminate history beyond the power of a textbook, comment on current
events without the sensationalistic tenor of news media, show us the
humanity behind art, and the heroicism of simple existence.

I am a devotee of public television, mainly because of the
documentaries. I like the biggies--Ken Burns' work, American
Experience, Nova, Frontline, etc., but I also look forward to P.O.V,
which showcases some lesser-known talents. I'm always scanning the
video shelves at the rental places and at the library for things I
might have missed. If I ever get cable t.v., the access to more
documentaries would be a factor in my decision.

I'll probably lurk here more than anything, because there are other
places on Utne for people like me to talk, and i'm interested in
hearing about life behind the camera. I'm really happy to see this

Good luck with your projects, everyone! Maybe one of these evenings,
i'll have the opportunity to settle into the couch and let you take me
somewhere. You have my admiration.

Doug Block
Welcome, Jen. I remember you well from your postings on the
Documentary conference at Cafe Utne: posting:Film.63.223

I'm really glad you found us here and hope you'll come back often.
I'd love to hear more about yourself and your writing.

Greg, you have enough experience to qualify for The D-Word
Community. Drop me an email ( with REGISTER in the
subject header and a brief note reminding me that I invited you.
I'll send you registration instructions.
Andrew Noddin
Im Andrew Noddin and im in my 3rd year of a Television Broadcasting
Course in Belleville, Ontario. Originally when i started i was
interested in the News aspect of Television but that quickly changed
when i realized the lack of production and creativity that it SEAMS
to involve. During my 2nd year here i started directing short 8 and a
half minute documentaries that has aired on the community cable
station for our schools show called Quinteview, which focuses on
stories developed through the Quinte region of Ontario. I have
directed documentaries on Hemp and its environmental uses, on an old
theatre in Picton called the Regent Theatre, a profile on a community
based hockey team called the Picton Pirates and on a Senior Citizens
big band called the Quinte Living Center Band. Directing is not
exactly what i want to do because i don't believe i am vocal enough
to be a director but i try to get the directing experience because i
believe it gives me a better overall sense of how documentaries are
produced and it will help me put together stories as an editor. I
have chosen editing documentaries as my field of specialty during my
last year here at Loyalist college but i have also chosen to direct
one aswell for the experience.

The documentary i am directing (i should actually say co-directing
and co-producing with Brandon Ogden)is a 30 minute documentary on a
Festival in town called Festival of trees, which we are beginning to
shoot in two weeks from today. I believe this program is a very good
program and i am learning a lot and getting loads of experience from
the course itself. Teachers are great and very interactive with all
their students. The only concern with this school concerns the Dean
of the program for lack of organization, equipment and respect for
the NEW 3rd year Television Broadcasting course. Our course consists
of 12 students(6 specializing in Documentaries, 6 in news) This
semester we are obliged to do 5-30 minute documentaries, 6-10 minute
news features, 12-industrial videos for real clients, and all the
preproduction involved in 2 television pilots and 1-1h and 30min
movie, all to be done in 4 months by 12 students and as many
volunteers as us students can get. Personally its seems kind of steep
but i really wouldn't know how steep the workload really gets in the
workforce so im not really complaining about that. The thing i and
the rest of my class are petitioning about is the equipment problems
such as the fact that we only have 2 cameras dedicated to our class,
the fact that there is only ONE media van which is shared between 2nd
year TV, 3rd year TV, 2nd year Broadcast Journalists and the Print
Journalism class, lack of hard drive space on our 3 Avids(each has 36
gigs and is used both by us and 2nd year tv students), our cheap dv
decks having been jamming tapes and costing some students important
footage,and there is a whole list of other things that is on our

Anyways i have joined this community hoping that i could meet some
interesting doc filmakers and also as a source of advice when needed,
aswell as to learn what the real documentary filmaking community is
really like. "IN RETURN KNOWLEDGE" sorry that's a quote from one of
the tv pilots we are producing.But seriously i will try my best to
offer advice or ideas as much as possible.
Samuel Ebersole
Hi, I am Sam Ebersole, associate professor in the mass communications
department and center for new media at the University of Southern
Colorado. I teach documentary producation and have been invovlved in
producing/shooting/editing docs since the mid 80's. Currently my
documentary class is in production of two documentaries; one on
skydiving, and the other about our local mental health facility and the
changes in treatment in the past 4-5 decades.

We are shooting in DVCam and editing using non-linear editing. We are
quite fortunate to have high quality equipment to work with...after
many years of S-VHS and cuts-only editing!

My students are studying the documentary genre, watching a lot of
classics, writing papers on documentary directors, and producing half-
hour projects...while taking other classes and working. It's quite a
busy semester for them to say the least.

Anyone else out there who teaches the documentary production process?
I'm using Rabinger's book (have done so for 6-7 years) and love it.

Looking forward to the dialog-

Deleted User
Hi, my name is Larry. I started a video production company in Jan
2000 shooting mostly sporting events of the extreme variety as a way
to hone my video skills, make some $ and give me an excuse to
purchase video gear to do what I would really like which is wildlife,
environmental, and natural history documenatries.
I am based in NJ.
I have been learning more about tax laws, forms, contract law than I
have about video.
I am hoping to get to a point soon where I can devote more time to a
few projects I have in mind, but only time will tell.
Doug Block
Howdy, Larry. Tax laws, forms, contracts... sounds just like
documentary filmmaking to me ;-)

Good luck and hope to see you back here again. Let us know how
things are going.
Deleted User
I was kind of hoping to hear surprise!
I thought maybe I was doing something wrong!
I have to go now, I need to write a check to the state for Sales-use
Sandra Throness
Hi! I am a grad student in psychology whose masters' thesis will be
the traditional written document as well as my first small
documentary. Maybe I have bitten off more than I can chew but I have
always loved documentaries and this is a great way to ease into making

I attended a camera, lights and sound workshop a few weeks ago (using
a digital camera) as a start to learning what I need to know. I have
a year to complete it all.

Looking forward to getting to know everyone and hearing about your
Doug Block
Welcome, Sandrat! The only way to make your first doc is to bite off
more than you can chew.

What subject are you thinking of doing it on? Keep us posted.
John D. Williams
Finally got back here. So many new folks came through the door that
I'll just say "Welcome New Folks!"

As you explore this public face of the professional D-Word Community,
keep in mind that a lot of the folks you will meet here travel to
documentary film festivals around the country -- and if the
filmmakers don't travel, their films certainly do. Larger colleges
and universities often have documentary films screenings which are
open to the public. So those of you who are curious about
documentaries and the people who make them, this space will help
connect you to documentary filmmakers who just might show up at
a "theatre/screening near you."

I keep hoping Doug will make a trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth area so
I can thank him in person for (1) creating the D-Word Community (both
public and private) and (2) making "home page," a film which has had
a profound influence on my life and career.

There are plenty of good folks here. I hope all of you who have
walked in will stay a while.
Jen Williams
I, for one, would like to know when anyone or their film will be
coming to St. Paul/Minneapolis. We've got several little theaters
that show good stuff, and i'd like to get out to as many as possible.
Maybe in the announcements thread?

Sandra Throness
Thanks Doug. My documentary (sheesh - I am still getting used to
saying that!) will be about a jazz combo as it moves from early
conceptualisation of a piece to a performance intercut with interviews
with the individual musicians.

My thesis is on the psychology of creativity in collaboration.
Doug Block
Wow, sounds very interesting, Sandrat. Jazz is something I always
imagined as mostly improvised-- don't think of it as conceptualised.

Thanks for the kind words, John. We'll definitely keep you, Jen and
others notified about screenings in a theater near u. Funny, 4 D-
Word members were recently out at Hot Springs, Arkansas, showing
their works at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.
John D. Williams
Rats! I was going to go to Hot Springs again this year, but graduate
school kinda got in the way. :-(

Maybe next year!
Jerry Williams
Currently producing a bio doc about artist Jennie Brownscombe, 1850-
1936. This will be my first e-producer role. I've been involved in
docs with PBS affiliate and nonprofit history organizations for
several years,in most capacities except camera. I'm looking forward
to the support of more experienced people.

My interest in docs is in the joy of telling the story and the
experience of being in the midst of vibrant, creative people.
Doug Block
Welcome, Jerry. You've come to the right place for support, indeedy!
Jason Rosette

Back on D-Word after a long absence. But it's great to be back folks.

I made a doc called BookWars, you can find out more at the site, -->CAMERADO. Or check it out
online, via Windows Media, on

Right now, working on a variety of doc and non-doc idears, and am
acting in a play called "Line", the longest running off-off broadway
play in NYC history (at the 13 Street Theater, 212-675-6677)

Great to be back,

Sarah George
Sandrat- I'd love to hear more on your thesis about the psychology
of creativity in collaboration. Please keep us posted.
Doug Block
Reality check: This isn't a conference for spammers, political or
otherwise. Any spam will be immediately erased, so kindly don't
waste your time or ours, ok?
Scott Butki
Greetings. Just checking in to say hi.
Doug, is your movie out on video and/or playing anywhere near
Doug Block
Hi back, Scott. Yup, Home Page is available on video. Go to and click on the Home Page on Home Video button.
It'll take you right to the Facets Video order form.

A steal at $19.95! And a great stocking stuffer!
Doug Block
Well, ya gotta be. If only I could rely on a distributor to sell it
for me.
Tamra Raven
Hi! I am excited to finally be part of D-word.
I have recently created a company, Out of the Dirt Productions, whose
mission is to bring awareness and get others to take action to solve
urgent environmental, health and social issues.

My first film, RATS TO ROSES, is intended to be a one-hour documentary
that celebrates New York City’s community gardens and the dedicated
volunteers who keep them flourishing. I believe that this documentary
could potentially play a valuable role in helping to prevent the
destruction of NYC’s beloved gardens.

These gardens have provided a haven, a sanctuary, and a community
center without walls, in the heart of NYC to thousands of low-income
people of color. They have given them a sense of pride and feeling of
accomplishment in helping to make their community a better place to
live. My goal is to become even more effective in communicating how
the power of one, the power of each person to affect change.

On another completely different note, I want to sell Final Cut Pro
1.2.5, new factory sealed copy plus $1000 of free software. And want to
know how to do this?
All the best,
Tamra Raven
Robert Goodman
welcome. Posting the sale notice here is fine. I'd also offer it
for sale on ebay
Doug Block
Tamra, you're in the public conference rather than the private one
for professionals. Email me if you're confused or having a problem
getting in there. If not, please copy and post your intro there.
Angela Alston
I've just joined D-word through the back door, cause of being on the
AIVF board. I'm certainly glad to have found out about it because I've
found like Doug that documentary making can be a lonely art, ironic
because it's also such a collaborative one. . .

I've made a bunch of short docs, coming out of the public access world
in Seattle, seguing in film school in Texas, including an experimental
one called *The Weeping Woman* (because a lot of English speakers had
trouble with the "ll" in Llorona, the real name of the Weeping Woman).
If you're in Dallas in March, you can see my most recent short at the
Dallas Video Festival,*A Summer Day in Central Park* (it's a jungle in

Now I'm working on making the leap to long-form with several ideas in
development. The bread and butter so far is teaching online
(Information Design) and producing corporate and industrial video. :}
But I'm moving into editing as my b&b, am working on a narrative short
right now, *Harvey the Larvae*.

You can see a bit more about my work on my site, soon to be updated.

Looking forward to meeting you all, virtually and in the flesh.
Doug Block
Welcome, Angela. You, too, I think meant to post to the private
conference, so please re-post this there. I've sent you an email
with directions how to do that.

Nothing wrong with saying hello here, too, though ;-)
Robert Goodman
After all this space is available and deader than a door nail.

Doug Block
Hey, it's hard to find, Robert! And we blew all our advertising
money on that superbowl commercial.
Robert Goodman
If we can sell the article that would change - Superbowl here we come
Deleted User
Join over 20 filmmakers from around the United States. Use your
videocamera to create a record of people*s reactions to the
Supreme Court decision that stopped the vote count in Florida.

Interview family, friends and strangers-- all kinds of people in all
kinds of places. Our film will analyze whether or not Americans are
holding back their anger and rage toward the *stolen-ness* of this
particular election

Write me an email and I*ll reply with all the details.

Matt Kohn

Please title your email response: Election Documentary * Phase
Doug Block
Matt, this is why we invented the Shameless Self Promotion topic!
Come back and introduce thyself, sir!

Good luck with the project, though.
Sarah George
Tamra- Did you ever sign in over at the community conference? Your
project sounds amazaing. Community gardens are such an inspiring
topic. As a filmmaker I am also compelled by the use of the medium to
affect change while telling individual stories. Storytelling can be a
radical act.

Matt- I'm really interested in your project and the idea of using
multiple filmmakers to tell a story. Please tell us more.
Andrew Kohl
Hi Everyone,
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

Robert Goodman
good luck with your projects and hot docs. Would be interesting to
hear your experience when you return.
Doug Block
Andrew, be sure to post this intro in the private conference. This
is the public conference, not very well attended by D-Word Community
Maggie Hadleigh-west
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, if anyone is interested.

Love being a filmmaker, but am currently struggling with the
struggle. Glad to be a part of this community.
Doug Block
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.
Robert Goodman
Given the traffic here doug - this is more private than the private
conference. smile.
Doug Block
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 on June 20. We'll be sending the
public to this conference to interact with the filmmakers. It'll be
very cool.

You'll see.
Morgan Evans
Hi Folks,
My name's Morgan and and I'm very happy to have found the
D-Word group.
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.

Morgan Evans
Ben Kempas
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 ...
Stephen Colvin
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.
Deleted User
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!
Doug Block
Mark, you'll want to post this again in the private conference. Go
to and hit "members log-in" to get there. Scroll down
to the Introduce Yourself thread.
Morgan Evans
Ben & Steven,
Thanks for the warm welcome. Look forward to chatting further.
Linda Goin
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
this project.

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.
Robert Goodman
Ask away. Always nice to see someone pop into the public conference.
Linda Goin
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?
Robert Goodman
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.
Doug Block
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
magazine-type shows.

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.
Linda Goin
"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.
Doug Block
"Survivor" is reality tv. "Sixty Minutes" is news magazine.
Robert Goodman
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.
Linda Goin
My history includes a long one in marketing and advertising (a
necessity for publications, of course...). Making a statement
(oblique or head-on) - whether through film, print or art - can be
very hard to finance. That part I understand.

Unless, of course, the funding is made with the objective of having
an exclusive that is pretty hard-hitting. Even then, it's iffy.
Deleted User
Hi People

Very interesting reading Linda's ques and the answers that followed.
I'm interested in making a documentary but am quite unfamiliar with
the process to completion. There are - like with everything in life
many ways to IT - any rough guides out there on docu making and the
steps involved?

look forward to learning and exchanging!
Doug Block
Welcome, Bindu.

There are a couple of books I'd recommend on Michael Weise's website:

The Art of Reality is worth checking out (the site has a sample
chapter you can read), and Weise's The Independent Filmmakers Guide to
Film & Video (or something like that) is a very valuable general film
book that applies to docs.

Lotsa luck!