June 3, 2016

Essential Doc Reads: Week of May 30


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!


The New York Times reports on new efforts from female cinematographers attempting to correct gender inequity in the industry.

Women make up about 12 percent of Local 600’s camera department roster, Ms. Rhine said. (The union also represents entertainment industry publicists.) The group is just beginning to compile the numbers for people of color among its ranks. "You can’t have progress except by looking at the starting point," she said, adding, "This is not going to fix itself passively."

At The Rumpus, Stephen Elliott investigates the film festival submission process.

One director, expressing frustration, said even after playing at some pretty good festivals, "It used to be the studio system that was set up as gatekeepers keeping out independent films. The film festivals were a way around that. But the festivals have become the new gatekeepers. Sure there are exceptions but for the most part if you don’t know how to play the game, if you’re not connected, if your movie doesn’t have big stars, your odds of making it on the festival circuit are a lot worse than you think."

For The Talkhouse, John Colpitts of the band Oneida reflects on a failed documentary soundtrack, and what makes great film scores work.

The final recording session for the soundtrack was completed during a July heat wave and the performances were somewhat wilted. The versions we handed in to Jesse felt compromised, but we also did not have a clear sense of how to improve the material. We were presented with a double bind: we weren’t able to accept criticism in a constructive way, and Jesse struggled to communicate his misgivings about the material clearly. This was the first time in our career we were faced with the gaps of understanding between musicians and collaborators.

At Crain's, Addie Morfoot reports on educational distribution as a funding source for documentaries.

"While we still would love to find someone to do a limited theatrical run of City of Trees, we know these opportunities for independent documentaries are few and far between within traditional and commercial theatrical distribution," he said. "Our hunch was that traditional theatrical distribution would also require expensive up-front marketing, complicated logistics, and would not necessarily create the room for dialogue that has been so essential for our team. We've felt that a focus on educational and community-based distribution following the PBS broadcast would be better both for the film's impact and finances."

At Realscreen, two attorneys suggest mistakes to watch for when applying for errors and omissions insurance.

"You need to enlist the services of a broker who has experience with non-fiction programming so that they understand the kinds of issues that might arise. While your broker doesn’t need the expertise of a lawyer, your broker should still have a basic understanding of the law on copyright, trademark and personal rights."


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

"These conversations center on the idea that film festivals could possibly play other roles besides a showcase for fresh, innovative work or a platform for filmmakers to meet potential audiences and fans. But can, or should, festivals act as hybrid discovery showcases, taking some films directly to cinemas? Should they be quasi-distribution mechanisms--or distribution enablers, if you will? And if so, can they stay true to their core values and missions?"


In the News:

Toronto is Getting its First Virtual Reality Cinema
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International Doc Association and Distribber Partner for Quarterly Grant
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Katie Couric Gun Control Film Entangled in #Gungate and a Question of Ethics
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