February 24, 2020

Essential Doc Reads: Week of February 17

From Garrett Bradley's 'Time," which was acquired by Amazon Studios. Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Essential Doc Reads is our curated selection of recent features and important news items about the documentary form and its processes, from around the internet, as well as from the Documentary magazine archive. We hope you enjoy!

Cineuropa's Vladan Petkovic interviews Brigid O’Shea, founder of Documentary Association of Europe, on the eve of its launch at Berlinale.

Like all independent and arthouse practitioners in Europe and abroad, many professionals and companies find themselves at a crossroads due to frequent restructuring and budget cuts, particularly in documentary's natural partner, public broadcast television. Public funding in many parts of the continent is compromised politically, or documentary as a cinema form, product and language is overlooked. So in this sense, DAE wants to share best practices with as many partners as possible, and use its energy and resources for critical and solution-orientated discussions. I imagine it will be up to the members more to inform DAE about their current production and distribution realities, rather than the network coming in with prescriptive plans for change.

Writing for his blog DocumentaryTelevision.com, Peter Hamilton assesses the recent round of cuts at Discovery Channel.

  • These cuts to staff and programming are so deep that the remaining teams will struggle to dig out from the paralyzing fear that envelops the company this month.
  • Discovery’s programming execs will have to fight to get the internal green lights for the fresh programming solutions that will attract viewers and bolster their great but diminished brands.
  • According to my back-of-envelope estimates, Discovery still spends upwards of $1 billion / year on documentary and unscripted programs. That's far, far more than Netflix and the streamers.
  • Producers must grasp the reality of Discovery's tough situation, while remembering that the Cab/Sat network category as a whole will remain a major buyer of programs.

With a plethora of festivals and markets on the global docket over the next two months, RealScreen's Barry Walsh checks in about how they’re taking precautions amid the coronavirus.

Measures being implemented thus far include communication prior to the event and onsite, including signage and training of staff, of WHO recommendations regarding personal hand and respiratory hygiene; strengthened collaboration with local partners, such as airports, hotels and the city of Cannes, to ensure vigilance concerning health and safety practices; and reinforced medical team at the venue as well as increased standards of hygiene within the Palais.

Moviemaker's Tim Molloy reports on a Slamdance panel on how to avoid red flags when applying to festivals.

Keep your synopsis short and to the point. More importantly, keep your film short and to the point. Get honest feedback from someone who isn't in your family. And don't try to write, produce, edit and direct your own movie.

NextTV's David Bloom speculates on Quibi's brand-building capabilities amid stiff streaming challenges.

Quibi is trying to create a unique approach to entertainment, focused on mobile, short-form, episodic video displayed through an innovative "turnstile" interface that fills your phone’s screen with an image whether you watch in portrait or landscape mode. 

From the Archive, Spring 2010: "Festival Express: Can the Fest Circuit Empower Your Film's Distribution Strategy?"

Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Toronto--the high mantra of any filmmaker thinking about his or her film's festival run. Where to world premiere? Which programmer to trust with watching a rough cut or work-in-progress? From whom to seek advice about the best possible rollout, domestically and internationally? Which festivals will provide the largest audiences, the most optimal screening times, the PR and marketing that will get people to buy tickets and show up to the film? Which festivals provide round-trip transportation, accommodations, per diems for food and drink, and other costs associated with taking a film on the road? Do you consider this your theatrical exhibition and ask for screening fees and other related costs? What kinds of networking opportunities will you have with other filmmakers, industry executives and commissioning editors? What value, if any, will playing at certain festivals offer for your professional future?

 

In the News

IDA Announces Enterprise, Pare Lorentz Grantees, Documentary Magazine Editorial Fellows

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CAAM Announces 2020 Fellows

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Introducing the Sundance Knight Fellows and What They're Working On

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NAACP Image Awards Announced

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University of Missouri Announces Based on a True Story Lineup

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HBO Slates Multi-Part Doc Series from Raoul Peck

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HBO Max Is Coming to YouTube TV

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Amazon Studios Acquires Garrett Bradley's Time

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Epicentro, The Fight for Greenland in Competition at CPH:DOX

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Jimmy Carter Doc to Open Tribeca Film Festival

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New York Film Festival Names Eugene Hernandez as New Director

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YouTube, Global Fund for Women Team for New Doc Series

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Louverture Films Partners with Producer Karen Chien

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Filmmaker and Photojournalist John Hiller Passes

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