DOC NYC Pro: Learn Documentary Essentials from the Filmmakers Behind this Year’s Best Films

The Festival takes place November 14-17.

For one week in November, virtually the entire documentary film community will gather in New York City for the DOC NYC film festival, where this year’s most acclaimed non-fiction films will screen. With all that talent and experience gathered in one place, DOC NYC has decided to channel it toward a new eight-day conference focusing on the tools and skills needed to fund, create and distribute documentary films.

READ MORE: ‘Weiner,’ Yes; ‘The Eagle Huntress,’ No: The 15 Documentaries on the DOC NYC Short List

DOC NYC PRO is geared toward documentary professionals looking to advance their careers and filmmaking skills and will be comprised of talks, panels, masterclasses and pitch sessions featuring filmmakers and decision makers behind films like “Weiner,” “O.J.: Made in America,” “Amanda Knox” and “Cartel Land.”

Each day of DOC NYC PRO will begin with a “morning manifesto,” featuring speakers Laura Poitras (“Citizenfour”), Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg (“Weiner”), funder Cara Mertes (Ford Foundation’s JustFilms), distributor Tom Quinn and Stanley Nelson (”The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution”), who will also be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the festival this year. After the morning talk, the day is broken into a series of panels and workshops designed to assist aspiring filmmakers hone their craft in respect to editing, pitching their films and writing non-fiction material.

Certain days of the conference will have a specific focus: “Short List Day” is devoted to discussions with the filmmakers chosen for the prestigious DOC NYC Short List; “Pitch Perfect Day” will connect works-in-progress with funders and mentors; and “Only in New York Meetings” will put filmmakers face-to-face with industry decision makers. The complete conference lineup is below.

DOC NYC PRO events take place at the Cinepolis Chelsea on 23rd street in Manhattan. In addition to the panels and masterclasses, the conference features a networking lounge for passholders, with daily breakfasts and Happy Hours.

READ MORE: DOC NYC Festival 2016 Announces Full Lineup For Seventh Edition

An all access pass to the conference and film festival costs $750, but there are other more affordable options for filmmakers looking to take part in specific aspects of the conference. The DOC NYC PRO pass ($399) grants access to the eight-day lineup of panels and events. The “Only in New York Upgrade” ($75) grants access to four days of roundtable meetings with key industry decision-makers. Also available are $75 day passes. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit the DOC NYC website.

Here is the DOC NYC PRO schedule:

Thursday, Nov. 10: First-Time Doc Makers Day

Morning Manifesto: “Weiner” directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg share advice for first-time directors.

What’s Your Story?: Accomplished filmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson (“After Tiller”), Amber Fares (Speed Sisters) and others offer lessons from their first films.

Funding Fundamentals: Funding experts Loira Limbal (Firelight Media), Kristin Feeley (Sundance Institute) and others provide a road map for getting your film financed.

Post-Production Secrets: Post-production experts Joe Beirne, Ben Murray and others advise on strategies for finishing your films.

Anthony Weiner in Weiner

Get Your Gear: Filmmakers and experts from Sony discuss how to evaluate and choose the best gear for your project.

Happy Hour

Friday, Nov. 11: Short List Day

Morning Manifesto: Owen Gleiberman, Variety’s lead film reviewer and author of “Movie Freak,” applies his critical perspective to doc trends.

Unfolding Stories: Filmmakers behind “Miss Sharon Jones!,” “The Ivory Game,” “Trapped” and “Weiner” discuss following a story when you don’t know the end.

Character Studies: Filmmakers of ”Amanda Knox,” ”Gleason,” ”Jim: The James Foley Story” and ”Mapplethorpe:’ Look at the Pictures” relate how they documented complex lives.

American Histories: Filmmakers of ”I Am Not Your Negro” and ”O.J.: Made in America” address retelling chapters of history from fresh perspectives.

Pushing Boundaries: Filmmakers of ”Cameraperson,” ”Fire at Sea, ”Into the Inferno” and ”Life, Animated” talk about challenging stylistic expectations.

Happy Hours

Saturday, Nov. 12: Mastering Your Craft Day One

What’s Your Style?: Filmmaker Gary Hustwit (”Helvetica”) and others talk about finding their filmmaking style.

Casting Case Studies: Filmmakers Rachel Boynton (”Big Men”), Marshall Curry (”Street Fight”) and others discuss choosing their subjects.

Realities of VR: Documentary VR producer Jessica Edwards (”Scenic”) and others discuss this emerging field of storytelling.


Cinematography Masterclass: Acclaimed cinematographer Kirsten Johnson (”Cameraperson”) shares her knowledge.

Sony Premiere: Sony Electronics unveils its latest technology in a screening event created exclusively for DOC NYC.

READ MORE: From Ava DuVernay’s ’13th’ to ‘OJ: Made in America’: Four Docs That Define Black Lives Matter

Sunday, Nov. 13: Mastering Your Craft Day Two

Morning Manifesto: Esteemed editor of ”Amanda Knox” and ”Cartel Land,” Matthew Hamachek discusses his process.

Composing & Sound Design for Documentary: Composer Todd Griffin  joins filmmakers to discuss collaborating on music and sound design.

Getting Creative with Archives: Archive researcher Rosemary Rotondi and filmmakers Sierra Pettengill and Matt Wolf share tips.

Nonfiction Writing: Filmmaker Nanette Burstein and others discuss writing for documentaries.

Editing Masterclass: Award-winning editor Geof Bartz shares secrets from favorite scenes.

Reception: Co-presented by Ford Foundation / JustFilms & Good Pitch, in celebration of the New York premiere of Deirdre Fishel and Tony Heriza’s documentary “Care.”

READ MORE: Amanda Knox’: Why It Took 5 Years to Unravel the Story of Foxy Knox

Monday, Nov. 14: Pitch Perfect Day

Morning Manifesto:  Stanley Nelson talks about his approach to framing history.

Pitch Perfect, Part 1: Three works-in-progress, “For Ahkeem,” “Vision Portraits” and “The Aftermath,” pitch to a panel of industry leaders.

Pitch Perfect, Part 2:  Three works-in-progress, ”Island Soldier,” ”Shadowman” and ”Untitled Women Leaders of the First Intifada Project,” pitch to a panel of industry leaders.

Insider vs Outsider Storytelling: Seasoned doc makers working internationally discuss how to amplify local voices and cover foreign territories with sensitivity. Co-presented by Image Nation Abu Dhabi.

READ MORE: Gianfranco Rosi’s Golden Bear-Winning Documentary ‘Fire At Sea’

Tuesday, Nov. 15 : Documentary & Journalism Day

Morning Manifestoo: Oscar-winning director Laura Poitras and journalist Henrik Moltke share their short film ”Project X” and discuss their collaboration.

Ethics & Objectivity: Directors Ezra Edelman (”O.J.: Made in America”), Dawn Porter (”Trapped”) and Brian Oakes (”Jim: The James Foley Story”), along with Jackie Glover from HBO Documentary Films, discuss ethical challenges and guidelines.

OJ Made In America
“O.J.: Made in America”ESPN

Courting Controversy: Filmmakers Matthew Heineman (”Cartel Land”) and Alexandria Bombach (”Frame by Frame”), along with producer Emre Izat (”Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale”), discuss handling contentious topics. Co-presented by Vulcan Productions.

Protecting Yourself: ”(T)ERROR” director Lyric Cabral and others discuss protecting their footage and their sources.

The Evolution of Form, Shorts and Beyond: New York Times Op-Docs producer Kathleen Lingo joins MTV’s Garth Bardsley and filmmakers Donal Mosher and Mike Palmieri (”Peace in the Valley”) to discuss new possibilities in short-form documentary.

READ MORE: Inaugural Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards Heap Nominations on ’13th,’ ‘O.J.: Made In America’ and ‘Gleason’

Wednesday, Nov. 16: Smart Producing Day

Morning Manifesto: Cara Mertes, director of Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, shares her insights from supporting documentaries around the world.

Navigating Environmental Filmmaking: Filmmakers Kristi Jacobson (”A Place at the Table”) and David Abel (”Sacred Cod”), along with Discovery’s John Hoffman, discuss what makes for an effective environmental film.

Social Issue Producing: Borderline Media’s Jennifer MacArthur, Logo Documentary Films’ Taj Paxton and others discuss how to craft dynamic issue-oriented films. Co-presented by National Geographic Channel.

How to Run a Production Company: Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (”Norman Lear”) and Liz Garbus (”Nothing Left Unsaid”) join producer Julie Goldman (”Life, Animated”) to discuss maintaining a production company.

Creative Producing: Impact Partners’ Dan Cogan and Jenny Raskin lead a discussion with notable producers on the challenges and rewards of the job. Co-presented by Impact Partners.

READ MORE: The Spy Who Loved Me’ Making Of Doc: A Detailed Look Inside The Complicated (And Classic) 1977 Bond Film

Thursday, Nov. 17:  Show Me the Money Day

Morning Manifesto: Tom Quinn shares wisdom from his distribution career that includes overseeing the releases of ”Citizenfour” and ”20 Feet From Stardom.”

Out-of-the-Box Funding: Producers share creative strategies for getting projects financed.

Making Your Skills Pay: Industry veterans Esther Robinson and Jenni Wolfson focus on making a sustainable living as a documentarian.

Operating in the Grey Area: Legal & Ethical Issues in Documentary Filmmaking: Entertainment attorney and filmmaker Marc H. Simon and others offer advice on navigating legal pitfalls. Co-presented by Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLC.

Successes, Failures & Crazy In-Betweens: Kickstarter’s Liz Cook leads a discussion with filmmakers over the ups and downs of funding.

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