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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.

James Longley
Fri 16 Dec 2011Link

Basically, if a broadcaster (like HBO or the BBC or Discovery or whoever, for example) wants to buy your film, they will tell you if they have an E&O requirement and what company they prefer you to get the insurance from – because the insurance is really to protect the broadcaster, not the filmmaker (but you should still make sure that the insurance policy also covers you.)

This is because broadcasters have a lot of money, and filmmakers generally have none. So any potential lawsuit resulting from your film will likely target the broadcaster, not you, the filmmaker.

However, in most cases such lawsuits are few and far between – this E&O business is mostly just a formality required by the legal departments of large media companies.

What you can do to prepare for this process is to get signed waivers from the principal participants in your film, if possible.

Edited Fri 16 Dec 2011 by James Longley

leonard schillaci
Fri 30 Dec 2011Link

Is there anyone in Atlanta/LA – Cartoon Network/ MTV experienced out there I can bounce a few ideas around with?
I have a cartoon series in development and need help!

Thanks

Len 704 491 2821
EnergyNC@hotmail.com or ClaimsNC@Gmail.com


Stephen Cooper
Sun 1 Jan 2012Link

Thanks, Doug and James, for your 12/16 and 12/17 responses to my question above about E&O insurance. You're both helpful and encouraging.


Doug Block
Sun 1 Jan 2012Link

Glad we could help, Stephen.


Maureen Ridley
Wed 4 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Ray Metoyer's post on Fri 13 May 2011 :

Can anyone tell me what are the typical rates for selling a documentary to a US TV channel or where I might find such information? I have a client here in the UK who has made a documentary which should be of interest to the US audience.


Doug Block
Wed 4 Jan 2012Link

The rates are all over the place, Maureen. Could be as little as next to nothing (small cable channel) or as high as a million or more (HBO, if they really really want it). Would help to know what kind of doc it is and the length.


Maureen Ridley
Thu 5 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Doug Block's post on Wed 4 Jan 2012 :

Thanks, Doug. Pretty much as I suspected. It's an hour-long documentary about Buffalo Bill's visit to Scotland.


Doug Block
Thu 5 Jan 2012Link

Sounds like The History Channel is your likely target. Don't know their license fees (does anyone here have any experience with them?) but my guess is it's not high for an hour-long "one-off" acquisition. 10 to 20K, perhaps? Don't hold me to it, though.


Robert Goodman
Thu 5 Jan 2012Link

these days likely less than half that figure.


Maureen Ridley
Fri 6 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Doug Block's post on Thu 5 Jan 2012 :

Thanks again. I'' pursue the History Channel lead. Doesn't sound as if the chap is going to make much of a return on this.


Maureen Ridley
Fri 6 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Robert Goodman's post on Thu 5 Jan 2012 :

Good grief. His prospects of success are being radically pruned.


Doug Block
Fri 6 Jan 2012Link

Welcome to the glamorous world of documentaries, Maureen :-)


Ajay Brar
Tue 10 Jan 2012Link

Hi, I'm working on a documentary feature for which I'm finding it really difficult to raise any funding at all.
The documentary is on the Maoist rebel movement in India and looks at the rebels, the conflict and its human cost, and the underlying issues of mining and indigenous tribal rights.
I have filmed one round and will be going back to film more (me being the director, cinematographer, producer, editor and all).

Based in Australia, I have had no luck getting a broadcaster. The commercial ones don't care and the public broadcasters require Australian content / connection so a suggestion was for me to film myself which I think detracts from the story – its not about me but about the people there.

So I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions / ideas on how to go about raising funding for documentaries on issues that aren't exactly mainstream? How do I finance this (so far its been self financed but that won't cover a lot of the post work)? And what are the possibilities for distribution, theatrical release etc?

thanks


Oggi Tomic
Tue 10 Jan 2012Link

Hi Ajay,

Your film sounds like a good idea. I have been to India doing a short promo/doc for a charity on Yanadi tribe and luckily they supported financially filming of it all.

Anyway, in regards to your financing, have you tried http://www.indiegogo.com/

Hope it all goes OK for you and if I can do anything to help or advise you please let me know.

Oggi


Reid B. Kimball
Wed 11 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Ajay Brar's post on Tue 10 Jan 2012 :

I am not sure if Kickstarter.com is open to those outside the United States yet, but I raised $11,000+ for my documentary.


J. Christian Jensen
Thu 12 Jan 2012Link

SUBJECT: BEST STUDENT FILM, DOC SHORT, and DISABILITY FILM FESTS/COMPETITIONS

Hello Mentors,

I've just completed my first of several short film as part of Stanford University's MFA in Documentary Film program. The film is solid, about 5 min, and focuses on disability but in an unexpected way.

I had a bad (and expensive) experience applying to festivals with a short I directed as an undergrad. Can someone suggest (or direct me to some posts about) some of the better film festivals or competitions for student films and films about disability? I have a fear of blowing a lot of money applying to festivals out of my league or that don't really have much value as a networking event.


Ajay Brar
Sun 15 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Oggi Tomic's post on Tue 10 Jan 2012 :

Thanks Oggi. I've been trying to avoid crowdfunding but looks like that will be the way to go.


Ajay Brar
Sun 15 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Reid B. Kimball's post on Thu 12 Jan 2012 :

Kickstarter is only for US residents. There is a crowdfunding thing here in Oz too, I've just been avoiding it and trying for production houses and broadcasters.


Jacob Brady
Wed 18 Jan 2012Link

Hi all, I'm currently trying to raise funding for a documentary about a network of controversial adolescent drug abuse programs that I was a member of for five years. We just released a pitch trailer and launched an IndieGoGo campaign.

I would love to get some feedback from professionals on what we are doing right and what we could be doing better. This is my first time trying to do something like this and I could use all the help you can offer.

The trailer and IndieGoGo page are here. http://www.indiegogo.com/thegroup

Not asking for donations here, just looking for feedback. Thanks in advance.


Jill Morley
Thu 19 Jan 2012Link

Hi Jacob,

This looks like a really interesting story, especially since you have the inside scoop.

I am wondering if you have any other footage besides the talking heads and pictures. Are there scenes you can shoot? Or can you come up with some creative B-Roll that relates to the feelings that everyone is talking about? I know you are just beginning with telling your story, but I think it is always good to think in these terms. Best of luck!


Jacob Brady
Thu 19 Jan 2012Link

Hi Jill,

Thanks for checking it out.

Right now, we have about 13 hours worth of video footage that was shot by members of The Group and more coming. We didn't use any in the trailer because we are still working out the legalities of using it, but we intend to use some of it in the film.

As for B-roll, we plan to get footage of our interview subjects in their daily lives, plus just shooting anything interesting that comes up when we are on location.


Jill Woodward
Thu 19 Jan 2012Link

Subject looks compelling so far. I have heard of extreme drug programs (like the right wing christian ones that periodically get shut down by a state gov and then pop up elsewhere under a different name) but this is the first I heard about one totally run by kids. Lots of parallels though in terms of the brainwashing, peer pressure and torture lite techniques. Was there money involved? Anyone profiting?


Jacob Brady
Fri 20 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Jill Woodward's post on Fri 20 Jan 2012 :

Hi Jill. There is definitely a profit being made. My family, for example, which is a working-class family, spent around $70,000 in the five years that I was involved. The money is from treatment programs (in-patient and out-patient). They convince parents that without the treatment their child will literally die.

We were very limited in what we could go into with the teaser trailer, but we plan to explore the whole history of the organization in the final film.

The entire operation was founded by one man who is a convicted-felony, former heroin addict and self-professed murderer. There has been a lot written about the organization going back to the 1970s. Here's a link to a little background information, if you're curious.

Thanks for checking it out. If you have any advice, I sure could use it.


Jill Woodward
Fri 20 Jan 2012Link

sounds very similar to Kids of Bergen County, where my friend was incarcerated, it changed names and moved around a lot to avoid regulation. From your trailer I almost thought it was the kids organizing themselves, but it sounds very much like there is an adult orchestrating and profiting. Good luck!


Jacob Brady
Fri 20 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Jill Woodward's post on Fri 20 Jan 2012 :

It's very similar to the Kids of Bergen County and the Straight program.


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