UNITED SKATES Case Study: Five Years from Inspiration to Tribeca & HBO. Podcasts with Tina Brown & Dyana Winkler, Co-producers & -directors

UNITED SKATES is an exceptional feature documentary that combines pure and often hilarious entertainment with a hard-hitting expose of how race and class force their crushing ways into the most innocent American pastimes — even roller-skating. For this case study, which is published with Sunny Side of the Doc, I spoke with the co-producer / …

Off The Fence: Independent Distributor Celebrates 25th Anniversary in Cannes. A Podcast with CEO Ellen Windemuth

Ellen Windemuth launched OFF THE FENCE from her basement 25 years ago. In this week’s podcast, Ellen: Looks back at her company’s launch. Reflects on the particular challenges then for women in a male-dominated industry. Explores how Off The Fence grew into an industry-leading independent distributor / producer with a turnover of around $20 million. Describes her …


Sundance Takeaways: A Podcast with Peter Broderick, Veteran Distribution Strategist

Peter Broderick has just returned from the Sundance Film Festival. The quality of both the films and the deal-making in the Documentary category made a big impression on this veteran distribution strategist. Peter shares his Sundance Takeaways, including: 10-12 docs were at the “phenomenal” quality level; The impact of Netflix on the growing audience for …

Sundance and the Single Documentary Economy: The $1.3 Billion Cost of Missing Out

The documentary niche has remarkable financial scale, as measured by the films seeking selection at Sundance. Let’s assume that the average production cost of all 2,649 Sundance submissions for 2019 is $500,000. Actual budgets range from around $200,000 up to $5+ million. $500K is a conservative average. Production Cost: 2,600 documentaries were “Not Accepted” in 2019. The …

Sundance Film Festival Selections 2019: What are the Odds for Documentaries?

A Sundance Film Festival award lags only behind an Oscar nomination as a measure of success for documentarians. But what are the odds that a U.S. or international documentary will earn a slot on the program? Submissions 2,649 Documentary Features were submitted to the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, which opens on January 24: 767 were from the …

Distributing Documentaries & Non-fiction Programs. A Podcast with Ludo Dufour, Off The Fence’s MD for Sales & Copro’s

Ludo Dufour is the Managing Director, Sales & Co-Productions for OFF THE FENCE, the leading independent non-fiction specialist based in Amsterdam. We connected last June in Durban at NEWF, that super-exciting African conference linking Conservation and Filmmaking. I was taken by Ludo’s presentation on the nuts and bolts of financing and distributing quality documentaries and unscripted programs. …

Letters from Baghdad: A Case Study of an Archive-based Documentary With a $1.2 Mn Budget

Letters From Baghdad is a beautiful documentary that uncovers the story of British adventurer, diplomat and Arabist, Gertrude Bell. (Republished December 11, 2018 to mark the PBS premiere. Original publication: 6/6/2017) Filmmakers Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl reveal the struggles of a brilliant, lone woman in an all-male world. Their research uncovered a largely forgotten but mesmerizing film …