DOC NYC announces 2018 ‘DOC NYC PRO’ line up!

October 04, 2018

DOC NYC is pleased to announce the lineup for its eight-day DOC NYC PRO conference, running November 8-15 concurrent with the festival’s  public screenings. This year’s conference doubles in size from last year, with each day featuring two strands of thematic panels. Pass holders can choose between eight different panels each day and network at a daily Breakfast and Happy Hour. The PRO lineup features over 200 speakers including notable filmmakers Rashida Jones, Susan Lacy, Michael Moore, Morgan Neville and Wim Wenders who will all appear on panels related to the festival’s Short List (Nov. 9).

The entire DOC NYC PRO conference is co-presented by:

Each day of the PRO conference starts with a Morning Manifesto, delivering insights from a filmmaker or industry leader. This year’s Manifesto speakers are Amy Hobby (Tribeca Institute), Abigail Disney (Fork Films), Jannat Gargi (Vulcan Productions), Jon Reiss (DIY distribution expert), and filmmakers Dawn Porter (Bobby Kennedy for President), Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Coral) Nelson George (A Ballerina’s Tale) and Yoruba Richen (The New Black).

Popular themes from previous years will return in panels devoted to the First-Time Filmmaker (Nov. 8), Editing (Nov. 10), Cinematography (Nov. 11), Pitch Perfect (Nov. 12), Smart Producing (Nov. 13), Show Me the Money (Nov. 14) and Doc Law School (Nov. 15).

(Image: Morning Manifesto Speakers)

With its doubled size, the conference offers day-long themes of content in several new areas this year:

  • Series Focus (Nov. 9) – panels exploring the growth of documentary series and episodic content.
  • Showcases (Nov. 10) – prominent distributors discuss where documentary is now and where the market is heading.
  • American Snapshots (Nov. 11) – panels that take a deep dive into hot button topics.
  • Short Form Stylings (Nov. 12) – panels devoted to the growing field of short form documentary.
  • Post-Production Secrets (Nov. 13) – panels exploring sound, graphics, music and other post-production secrets.
  • Everything Archival (Nov. 14) – veteran archival producers share secrets of their craft.
  • Make Your Career (Nov. 15) – panels focusing on career sustainability.

Admission to DOC NYC PRO events is limited to festival passholders.

  • The All-Access Pass grants admission to all festival screenings and up to 32 PRO events. Passholders may reserve tickets online to their preferred events ahead of the festival.
  • The DOC NYC PRO Gold Pass grants access to a selection of DOC NYC PRO events. Passholders may reserve tickets online, from mid-October when the full film line-up is released, for up to 16 PRO events, and have rush-line access to an additional 16 PRO events during the festival.
  • The DOC NYC PRO Silver Pass allows passholders to reserve tickets for DOC NYC PRO events online starting in late October, for up to 8 PRO panels, plus rush-line access to an additional 8 PRO panels during the festival.

(Image: 2018 DOC NYC Short List: Features talent discussing their work at DOC NYC PRO. L-R Alan Hicks (Quincy), Alexandria Bombach (On her Shoulders), Annie Sundberg (Reversing Roe), Bing Liu (Minding the Gap), Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Free Solo), Julie Cohen (RBG), Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 11/9), Morgan Neville (Won’t You Be My Neighbour?), RaMell Ross (Hale County This Morning, This Evening), Rashida Jones (Quincy), Rudy Valdez (The Sentence), Sandi Tan (Shirkers), Stephen Maing (Crime + Punishment), Susan Lacy (Jane Fonda: A Life in Five Acts) and Wim Wenders (Pope Francis: A Man of His Word))

DOC NYC PRO Day-by-Day


Morning Manifesto: Dawn Porter – The director of the Netflix series Bobby Kennedy For President shares her thoughts on the current state of documentary filmmaking.

Panels: The State of Documentary

Filmmakers, distributors and industry executives lead conversations examining the documentary world from artistic, business and financial perspectives and discuss how to succeed in today’s landscape.

  • A Doc Style Guide – Amir Bar-Lev (Long Strange Trip) and others go in depth to discuss ways to merge style and content seamlessly.
  • Who Owns The Story – Marilyn Ness (Charm City), Nanfu Wang (I Am Another You) and others explore the issues of complicated filmmaker/subject relationships and storytelling ownership.
  • The Future of Funding – Filmmakers and funders discuss the ins and outs of financing your film, analyzing recent projects and tracking what’s on the horizon.
  • Beyond Your Core Audience – Producer Susan Bedusa (Bisbee ’17) and others discuss how to maximize your film’s reach.

Panels: First Time Filmmaker

Immerse yourself in panel discussions providing specific, in-depth and enlightening studies for emerging documentary filmmakers.

  • Dig Deep: Doc Storytelling – Susan Froemke (Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman), Vanessa Gould (Obit.), Nancy Schwartzman (Roll Red Roll) and Marco Williams (Crafting An Echo) discuss building the foundation of the exemplary storytelling.
  • Silver Linings (Doc) Playbook – Filmmakers Elan Bogarín (306 Hollywood), Daniel Patrick Carbone (Phantom Cowboys) and Madeleine Sackler (It’s a Hard Truth Ain’t It) provide tips for taking daunting situations and turning them into cinematic gold.  
  • Distribution Demystified – Distributors and filmmakers shed light on the distribution phase of your film’s journey and challenges you may face.
  • Optimizing Post Production: A Case Study – The experts at Technicolor PostWorks NY lead an in-depth post-production case study to break down everything you need to know. Co-presented by Technicolor PostWorks NY.

Happy Hour Co-Presented by Consulate General of Canada, New York


Morning Manifesto: Amy Hobby –  Tribeca Film Institute Executive Director discusses her thoughts on what makes great documentary content.

Panels: The Short List

Hear a special day of conversations with the filmmakers featured in the DOC NYC Short List section that highlights 15 of the year’s standout documentaries.

  • Portraits – Discussing biographical films with filmmakers Wim Wenders (Pope Francis: A Man of His Word), Rashida Jones & Alan Hicks (Quincy), Morgan Neville (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) and Susan Lacy (Jane Fonda: A Life in Five Acts). Co-presented by Focus Features.
  • Getting Personal – Discussing films that rely on a strong bond between director and subject with filmmakers Bing Liu (Minding the Gap), Rudy Valdez (The Sentence), Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Free Solo) and Alexandria Bombach (On Her Shoulders). Co-presented by MTV.
  • Pushing Boundaries – Discussing docs that are inventive with the documentary form, featuring the filmmakers Sandi Tan (Shirkers), Tim Wardle (Three Identical Strangers) and RaMell Ross (Hale County This Morning, This Evening). Co-presented by MTV.
  • Getting Political – Discussing films that plunge into the political, featuring the filmmakers Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 11/9), Julie Cohen (RBG), Annie Sundberg (Reversing Roe) and Stephen Maing (Crime + Punishment). Co-presented by MTV.

Panels: Series Focus

Find out what you need to know about how to construct, pitch, develop and create your series idea and delve into the details with a case study of one of 2018’s most acclaimed series, Bobby Kennedy For President.

  • Developing Your Series – Filmmakers discuss developing documentary ideas into series and why you should consider the format for your next idea.
  • Crafting Standout Digital Content – Panelists provide a primer to the creation of truly memorable digital documentary series content.
  • Should You Pitch It? – Distributors lead a conversation about what they are looking for in the documentary series market.
  • Case Study: Bobby Kennedy For President – Director Dawn Porter, producer Laura Michalchysyn and archival producer Rich Remsberg discuss creating the acclaimed Netflix documentary series.

Happy Hour Co-presented by Focus Features


Morning Manifesto: Abigail Disney – The founder of Fork Films has been a major force in funding documentary films. Hear her thoughts on what stories are the most important to tell.  

Panels: Master Your Craft – Editing

The first of two days focusing on the craft of nonfiction filmmaking. Saturday’s sessions will break down and delve into all aspects of documentary editing.

  • Grab Your Audience’s Attention – Editors Carla Gutierrez (RBG) and Katharine Garrison (United Skates) discuss bringing an audience into your film’s world. Co-presented by the Karen Schmeer Fellowship.
  • Cut A Killer Trailer –  Editors and trailer experts discusses the nitty gritty of what makes great, visceral trailers and how to craft one that best fits your film.
  • Anatomy of a Scene – Director Clay Tweel (Out of Omaha; Gleason) and others break down key moments from their films and discuss how to cut with an eye toward finding the meaning in a scene.
  • Storytelling in a Post-Truth World – Editor Rabab Haj Yahya (The Feeling of Being Watched) and others share thoughts on crafting story during each stage of a cut and on ensuring that it remains truthful.

Panels: Showcases

Hear directly from distributors on the content they are producing and the types of projects they look for, plus a get a glimpse of specific examples of content they have in their pipelines.

  • Discovery Showcase – Join the filmmaking team, including director Ross Kaufman and Discovery’s Jon Bardin and Jessica Beatus, as they go in depth on Taken By The Tiger and Discovery’s Project C.A.T. initiative.
  • NEON Showcase – Join executives from NEON as they discuss turning Three Identical Strangers into a hit, what they look for in the acquisitions market and how the company has quickly established itself as a force in the distribution world.
  • Topic Studios Showcase – Topic develops, produces and finances documentaries, feature films, shorts and series for all screens. Hear Topic executives discuss what types of projects they look to develop and partner with and how they go about it.
  • National Geographic Documentary Films Showcase -For over 130 years, National Geographic has been known for its iconic photography and breathtaking cinematography.  Hear from world-renowned filmmaker Jimmy Chin whose vertigo-inducing camerawork is showcased in the new film Free Solo, along with a panel of other cinematographers to find out how they “get the shot”.

Happy Hour Co-Presented by Herflix, WIFNordic, & NYWIFT


Morning Manifesto: Jeff Orlowski –  The director of Chasing Coral and Chasing Ice is known for his stunning cinematography. Hear how he captures such incredible images.  

Panels: Master Your Craft – Cinematography

In the second of two days focusing on the craft of nonfiction filmmaking, we dive deep into all aspects of documentary cinematography.

  • Tight Spots, Dynamic Shots – Cinematographers Claudia Raschke (RBG), Erik Shirai (Blowin’ Up)  and others discuss working against the clock and what techniques you can use to get what you need.  
  • SPECIAL EVENT: Our Golden Age of Documentary (takes place at SVA Theatre) – Join industry leaders as they discuss the current state of documentary film distribution, funding, career sustainability, artistry, diversity, impact and more, as well as take audience questions in this special centerpiece panel event.
  • Make Your Interviews Pop – Cinematographers Tom Hurwitz (Studio 54), Ferne Pearlstein (The Last Laugh) and others discuss creating the best environment to capture interviews.  
  • The Invisible Cinematographer Paradox – Cinematographer Rudy Valdez (The Sentence), Ryan Scafuro (Phantom Cowboys), and Laela Kilbourn (How to Dance in Ohio) discuss objectivity and subjectivity in observational filmmaking.

Panels: American Snapshots

Dive into discussions of prominent themes in the current American discourse, including race, gender, politics, religion and free speech, and how documentary films can offer a window into America in 2018.

  • Journalism Under Fire – Panelists lead a discussion on documentary journalism best practices and how filmmakers should – and need to –push back on false claims against their work.
  • Decade of Fire: Activation and Accountability – Working Films and Ford Foundation present an interactive conversation featuring the makers of Decade of Fire, issue-based funders, and community-based organizations discussing the ecology of partnerships needed to activate a film. Co-presented by JustFilms | Ford Foundation.
  • Ordinary Americans, Extraordinary Subjects – Panelists speak about getting to the emotional heart of your subjects and your film.

Happy Hour Co-presented by Lexus


Morning Manifesto: Jannat Gargi (takes place at IFC Center) – Vulcan Productions’ Head of Documentary Films gives her thoughts and advice on how best to pitch your documentary projects.  

Pitch Perfect & IF/Then (takes place at IFC Center)

Twelve projects give their pitches to industry experts at this special daylong event. Pitch Perfect co-presented by A&E IndieFilms. IF/Then Shorts American Northeast co-presented by Tribeca Film Institute.

  • IF/Then Shorts American Northeast – Six filmmaking teams pitch their short doc projects for completion funding, free post production services (provided by Sim NY), and the opportunity to participate in Tribeca Film Institute’s IF/Then distribution initiative.
  • Pitch Perfect – Our panel of industry experts lays out the rules and best practices for six pitches of documentary works-in-progress selected by the festival’s programming team from submissions.  

Panels: Short Form Stylings

Join conversations focused on how opportunities for short form content have exploded in recent years, and discover what’s next for shorts.

  • Case Study With Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster – Go in-depth with award-winning filmmakers Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster (American Promise) to discuss crafting exemplary short films.
  • The Heart of the Sports Doc – Darius Clark Monroe (Black 14) and others discuss how their recent short films involving sports reach far deeper in their portraits for greater truths.
  • The Future is Short – Filmmaker Kim Snyder (Newtown) and others break down the ins and outs of working in both short and feature forms.
  • The New Distribution Landscape – Hear from distributors, including Chloe Gbai (POV Shorts), about what they look for in short films.

Happy Hour Co-presented by Tribeca Film Institute.


Morning Manifesto: Jon Reiss –  The director of Bomb It and Bomb It 2 and author of Think Outside the Box Office discusses innovative distribution techniques and using data for decision making.

Panels: Smart Producing

Learn how to roll with the punches, address various challenges and be an effective producer in a competitive and complex landscape.

  • Access is Everything – Filmmakers Kimberly Reed (Dark Money), Caitlin Mae Burke (Feast of the Epiphany) and others focus on ways you can build trust with documentary subjects and communities.  
  • Close Up On Impact Producing – Filmmakers discuss effective measures of impact producing and campaigns.
  • The Art of  Immersive – Dive in with RYOT’s Chief Content Officer Hayley Pappas for a discussion on how superior storytelling is at the core of immersive. Co-presented by RYOT.
  • Build A Successful Production Company: Break Thru FilmsReversing Roe directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg discuss working with production and distribution partners and growing a production company.

Panels: Post-Production Secrets

Engage with a series of panel discussions with artists and industry professionals in the fields of composing, animation, graphics, post-sound and more.

  • Post-Sound: What You See is What You Hear – Post-sound professionals lead you through the steps you need to know to execute the perfect post-sound strategy.
  • Animation, Graphics & Enhanced Storytelling – Panelists discuss when you should include an animator in your process and other best practices.  
  • Composers Tell All – Composers Troy Herion (306 Hollywood) and Wendy Blackstone (I Am Evidence) discuss building the perfect score for your film.
  • Case Study: Prep Your Film For Distribution – Learn valuable insights into how to prep your film for distribution in this case study from industry experts. Co-presented by Technicolor PostWorks NY.

Happy Hour


Morning Manifesto: Nelson George – The director of A Ballerina’s Tale, author and television producer, provides his insights into building a career.

Panels: Show Me the Money

Spend the day learning about the critical issue of funding, as DOC NYC PRO addresses practical skills, including a panel devoted to all-important development funding.

  • Dissecting Development With Impact Partners – Join Impact Partners’ Dan Cogan and other guests as they discuss efforts to establish development funding for documentaries and why this is such a crucial topic. Co-presented by Impact Partners.  
  • In-Depth Grant Writing – Dive into the ins and outs of grant writing and what you need to know to have the inside edge.  
  • Creating a Fundraising SizzlerWheelhouse Creative trailer expert and filmmaker Jeremy Workman (The World Before Your Feet) guides attendees through the steps of creating great fundraising sizzle reels.
  • Self-Distribution: Case Studies – Panelists share advice about getting their own projects out into the world via self-distribution.  

Panels: Everything Archival

DOC NYC PRO presents in depth discussions ranging from the introductory to the expert use of archival materials, including a look at how RBG, one of the year’s most successful docs, used archival to great effect.

  • Way More Than B-Roll – Penny Lane (The Pain of Others), Maxim Pozdorovkin (The Truth about Killer Robots) and Anna Garwood (POND5) discuss how the varied use of archival or historic footage and images can imbue deeper meaning and complexity in documentary films. Co-presented by POND5
  • Archival Success: A Roadmap – Archival producers Annie Salsich (Long Strange Trip) and Jim McDonnell (Elvis Presley: The Searcher) give advice on servicing all your archival needs.  
  • RBG: A Case StudyRBG co-directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West join a special panel to discuss building their film through the use of archival material.  
  • The Ethical ArchiveLove, Gilda director Lisa D’Apolito and editor Anne Alvergue discuss how to navigate the ethics involved in use of archival footage.

Happy Hour


Morning Manifesto: Yoruba Richen The director of The New Black shares her thoughts on getting films made.

Panels: Make Your Career

DOC NYC PRO explores ways to create a lasting, sustainable career in documentary film in this series of conversations with filmmakers and industry veterans.

  • Jumpstarting Sustainability – Funders, filmmakers and executives share how grants are being supplemented by a variety of helpful resources and programs in support of a filmmaker’s long-term career.  
  • Realizing Your Film’s Potential – Filmmakers discuss what steps you can take to utilize your projects not only monetarily, but also to create your next opportunities.  
  • Are Brands the Studios of the Future?  – Panelists explore how brands and digital media companies will affect the future of film and television financing and distribution.
  • Case Studies: Making It – Filmmakers Marshall Curry (Point and Shoot) and Doug Tirola (National Lampoon: Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead) discuss challenges to achieving success in the industry.

Panels: Doc Law School

Come to law school with DOC NYC PRO, with a full day devoted to legal issues and questions about making documentaries today.

  • Withstanding the Assault on Free Speech – Victoria Cook leads a legal panel discussing how documentary filmmakers can cover protests, police actions and other highly-charged situations. Co-presented by Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.
  • Fair Use Case Studies – Lindsay Bowen and Nancy Wolff  from CDAS run you through case studies of fair use and what you need to know, focusing on instances of incidental capture and deliberate inclusion in documentary films. Co-presented by Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard.  
  • Dealmaking Insights: Production, Sales and Distribution Agreements, and More – Legal experts from Fox Rothschild, sales agents and distributors provide insights into what you should know about production agreements including releases, sales and distribution agreements. Co-presented by Fox Rothschild.  
  • Licensing Music & Art – Panelists guide you through best practices for navigating the art and music licensing landscapes.

Happy Hour