Everything But the Film: The Business of Documentaries (Online)


This online course is for students who want to produce a feature documentary and test the waters in the industry. Students should already have a concept in development or be working on a film. The objective of the class is to learn about the doc filmmaking business by diving into all the different stages necessary to make a documentary film, except for actual production. Students can partner up or work on their own. We use examples from students’ current work and industry professionals, apply for grants, create budgets, watch each others’ trailers and give feedback, apply to pitch forums, and pitch each other (often). We will examine and possibly launch crowdfunding campaigns, learn about the industry players, and discuss the myriad distribution options available today. Special guests will be invited to join us. The following topics will be covered: concept crystallization, securing a protagonist, polishing your pitch, budgeting and fundraising, pitching to broadcasters, grants, crowdfunding, equity investments, crewing up, bookkeeping basics, industry who’s who--sales agents, distributors, producer’s reps, consultants—social media and other impact campaigns, pitch forums / trailers / networking, release forms and contracts, post-production basics, festivals, and distribution.

Sara Nodjoumi is an independent film producer and festival programmer. She produced When God Sleeps, co-produced by ITVS, executive produced by Motto Pictures, Catapult Film Fund, and Fork Films, and supported by numerous foundations including the Sundance
Institute, Jerome Foundation, and NYSCA. The film premiered in competition at the 2017
Tribeca Film Festival and went on to win a number of international awards including the Golden Heynal Award for Best Music Doc at the Krakow Film Festival and Most Valuable Film of the Year from Cinema for Peace in Berlin, in addition to being shortlisted for a German Academy Award in 2018. When God Sleeps has played at over sixty festivals all over the world. Nodjoumi is currently working on the release of her latest feature documentary Reggae Boyz about the healing power of soccer and music in Jamaica. After delighting audiences from Berlin to the Bahamas and earning a nomination for best feature documentary from the German Television Academy, Reggae Boyz had its U.S. Premiere at the 2019 Brooklyn Film Festival where it won the Audience Award. From 2004–2009, Nodjoumi worked at the Tribeca Film Festival as an associate programmer and she is currently the artistic director of the New York Sephardic Film Festival. She also produced the feature documentary The Iran Job, which was released theatrically and on Netflix worldwide. In Germany, the film was shortlisted for a German Academy Award. For The Iran Job, Nodjoumi managed two of the most successful campaigns in Kickstarter’s history. In 2016, she was invited to attend the Sundance Creative Producer’s Summit, and in 2017 she was an IFP Cannes Producer’s Network Fellow.


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