August 18, 2017

Essential Doc Reads: Week of August 14

Roger Ross Williams. Photo: Daniel Bergeron.

Essential Doc Reads is a weekly feature in which the IDA staff recommends recent pieces about the documentary form and its processes. Here we feature think pieces and important news items from around the Internet, and articles from the Documentary magazine archive. We hope you enjoy!

At IndieWire, Roger Ross Williams shares his experiences with a new high school program addressing issues with race in the doc world.

Full Frame director Deirdre Haj began the program in 2010 in an effort to improve access to documentary film for public school students and to diversify the documentary pipeline. Her mission was to create a program that empowered minority students to tell their own stories, and to expose them to future career opportunities. Deirdre hopes to continue expanding the program from its original five-week summer camp to include an after-school program during the academic year, and to establish a four-year film scholarship at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

At VideoNuze, Will Richmond asks how Apple plans to spend a billion dollars on video.

To have any degree of success in video, then far more important than the amount Apple might spend on shows is what business model the company will use to generate viewership and revenue. These were the issues I raised a couple of months ago when Van Amburg and Erlicht were hired. Apple is nowhere in terms of an OTT subscription or ad-supported business. While Apple Music gives the company a foothold in music subscriptions, it’s uneconomic to think about using it to monetize a billion dollars of video investments.

At Variety, Addie Morfoot calls attention to documentaries "double-dipping" for Oscar and Emmy consideration.

While the gap between a theatrical and small-screen doc has become increasingly smaller, what has remained consistent throughout time is that it’s hard to get most documentaries seen by large audiences. Especially in movie theaters. An Oscar nomination is one way to get on people's radar and the Emmys are another, so why not spread the wealth and let the 140 films that qualified for an Oscar last year and didn't get a nod, experience Emmy love and leave AMPAS' final five out of the competition?

At The San Francisco Chronicle, Edward Guthmann profiles documentary sound design wiz Jim LeBrecht.

LeBrecht, 56, is a sound designer for films. He's the one who mixes and weaves spoken word, music and sound effects; who alters pitch and loudness and cleans up the hiss and jumble of live sound. He's the one who draws from a vast library of sound effects and supplements it by going out in the field and recording his own. He started his own company, Berkeley Sound Artists, in 1996 and works mostly on documentaries. "Sound has always been the poor cousin," LeBrecht says. "If you go to film festivals and everything looks great, the sound sucks usually. So I want to work on that poor cousin - lift it up a little higher."

From the archives, April 2016, "The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Asks, Why Are '#DocsSoWhite?'"

As Kibbe began by running down some damning statistics, including the fact that there are twice as many women in documentary filmmaking as in narrative, I couldn't help but be aware of the makeup of the highly enthusiastic, but overwhelmingly white, audience. Chiang saw this as well, noting that as an Asian-American gay man he instinctively picks out other Asian (there were two) and gay ("several") faces as soon as he enters a room. Pollard added to the point, rolling his eyes in exasperation at the notion of whites that claim to be "color blind." Williams nodded knowingly.

In the News:

Trump's Arts and Humanities Committee Resigns in Protest
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MacArthur Foundation Awards Grants to Support Diverse Doc Filmmakers
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The Top 25 American Film Schools of 2017
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Doc NYC to Honor Sheila Nevins and Errol Morris
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EFA Announces Documentary Shortlist for European Film Awards 2017
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