Getting Real is a biennial conference on documentary media. This three-day conference will attract over 800 participants and is the only gathering of its kind in North America. The 2018 edition will take place September 25-27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

A filmmaker-to-filmmaker event

Getting Real is a unique gathering of filmmakers and industry professionals that brings the documentary community together for three unforgettable days of:

  • inspiring keynotes

  • vital conversations

  • practical workshops

  • dynamic presentations

  • insider knowledge

  • structured networking


Unlike any other event on the documentary calendar, Getting Real is designed to inspire filmmakers and give them the skills, information, and networks they need to push their careers to new heights. The event serves as a critically needed field-building incubator that tackles the most meaningful and challenging issues facing the documentary ecosystem.

The 2016 Getting Real Conference hosted over 700 participants, featured keynotes and master classes from creators, thought leaders and filmmakers, provided mentor meetings, networking and brainstorm sessions, and generated important dialogue among film professionals, innovators and documentary enthusiasts. Getting Real ‘18 will present an all-new program that will challenge assumptions and bring about lasting change. It is one of the prime documentary gatherings in the world - don't miss it! 

What We Heard From Filmmakers in 2016

Survey results from the more than 700 conference attendees demonstrated that Getting Real 2016 not only succeeded in bringing the documentary community together to confront the critical issues facing the field, but also achieved impressive results in other areas as well:

93% felt the conference was effective in addressing career sustainability

96% felt the event was effective or very effective in creating a sense of community

95% expressed interest in working with their peers to improve the documentary field

99% plan on attending Getting Real 2018

100% felt Getting Real 2016 fostered frank public conversation about the state of the industry and, further, that IDA is well-positioned to act as a leader for the field

Getting Real has become a primary destination for documentary professionals. There is a sense of purpose and community, but also seriousness and accountability. The documentary community sorely needed a venue for sustained conversations about professional practices, changes, and norms. At Getting Real, the coffee-clutch exegeses and late-night diatribes are promoted to the main stage. These nascent ideas can become organized discussions, working groups, and action items. For me, Getting Real 2016 also brought the opportunity to meet and collaborate with peers that I was creatively attuned to already, but had not met before.

- Jason Osder, Assistant Professor of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University

I came to Getting Real 2016 to connect with the documentary film community. So much of my time is spent in relative isolation with the films I’m working on, and it’s often difficult to keep up with what is happening in the bigger doc world. I’m grateful to the IDA for providing an important space to consider issues affecting us all and for creating an inclusive, accessible context in which filmmakers are encouraged to learn from each other--with tangible results too: I met an executive producer who signed on to my latest film at the conference, thanks to the Real Talk sessions. And dear to my heart was this year’s Flaherty session, a balm to a soul made weary from attempts to crack what sometimes seems the impossible nuts of filmmaker sustainability and viable distribution. It was beautiful and inspiring to be reminded of aesthetic possibilities of the documentary form! Thank you, IDA!

- Sara Lamm, Filmmaker, Reckon So Productions

As a young first-time documentary filmmaker of color in the Midwest, attending Getting Real 2016 was a way for me to feel connected to the larger collective in our field the world-over. One of my favorite moments was the chance to meet other filmmakers and share stories, laughs, and advice. I walked away with a humbling awareness of all the toil that shaped where documentary is today and the work yet to be done.

- Bing Liu, Filmmaker, Kartemquin Films