Introduce Yourself: Sign In Here First
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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.
conference ... I'm sure Doug will assist you?
I'm dreaming of a D-word face-to-face on some remote river ...
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.
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!
to www.d-word.com and hit "members log-in" to get there. Scroll down
to the Introduce Yourself thread.
Thanks for the warm welcome. Look forward to chatting further.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
look forward to learning and exchanging!
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.
My second novel has been sold to film; my first has been optioned. I
worked on both scripts, and now I am striking off on my own with a
documentary project (as writer only) and an original feature script.
I look forward to invigorating discussions here! Thank you.
doc project is about? Always curious what attracts media
professionals (ie. people who should know better) to try their hand
with a documentary ;-)
my union card until I learn to mainline black coffee)I was asked to
be part of a documentary about Butte, Montana. Yeah, yeah, my
reaction at the time was about the same as yours when your read that.
But it turns out this place is a metaphor for the American West, a
place where exploitation, diversity, bawdiness, violence, wealth,
culture, sex and the landscape intersected ... like a train wreck.
Doug kindly answered a beginner's questions, so now I know enough to
be dangerous. That's all.
Fortruanetly, I've published two successful novels and written a
couple screenplays, so I have a vague sense of story structure. I am
eager to see how it's done in this "new-to-me" medium. I look forward
to chatting with all of you.