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July 1, 2019

State of the Documentary and Sally Jo Fifer Mini-Keynote | Getting Real '18

Documentary production, distribution and audience consumption have shifted further into the mainstream than ever before, with original documentary features and series being produced across large and small distributors alike. And yet, despite new opportunities for nonfiction storytellers and audiences, the documentary ecosystem is presented with new challenges, including diversity, equal financial opportunities and career sustainability. In 2016, IDA and the Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI) launched a pilot research of documentary trends in 2016, which was released at the Getting Real '16. Two years later, Caty Borum Chattoo, Director of CMSI, shared the formal 2018 report at Getting Real '18. The State of the U.S. Documentary Field's findings offer a broad and detailed examination of the experiences, trends and perspectives among documentary film professionals. The study will be repeated every other year.

Introducing Chattoo's session is Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of Independent Television Service (ITVS). Her mini-keynote centers around the thing on a lot of documentary filmmakers' minds: money. How does the documentary industry evolve with the rapidly changing economy? How do we introduce new money and new production players into the field without shutting public and philanthropic funding out? As fifer explains, there is a pressing need to level the playing field for all doc-makers and recognize a wide variety of funding that can create a gateway for filmmakers to get started and leave artists feeling less financially vulnerable.

Watch this insightful Getting Real '18 presentation where Chattoo and Fifer discuss the findings of The CMSI State of the Documentary Field study in further detail, expanding on what lies ahead for the documentary industry at large.