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 …

The Development History of NATIVE AMERICA, a $3-4 million Signature PBS Series. A Case Study

NATIVE AMERICA is a premium PBS series that explores the world created by America’s first peoples. It describes their foundational belief systems that synthesize science and spirituality. The 4-part series captures the incredible diversity of the expressions of these beliefs across North, Central and South America. Providence Pictures’ President and Executive Producer/Director, Gary Glassman was preparing …

LE JAPON VU DU CIEL au MIPDoc. Étude du d’une co-production 4K couronnée de succès.

Une co-production à 1,5 million d’Euros entre la NHK, le diffuseur publique japonais et le français Gédéon Programmes a été un grand succès au MIPDoc 2018. La série : LE JAPON VU DU CIEL. Les producteurs exécutifs Shin Yasuda et Nicolas Deschamps ont partagé leur processus de co-production lors de mon panel juste après l’avant-première mondiale. …

JAPAN FROM ABOVE at MIPDoc. Case Study of a Successful 4K Co-production

A 1.5 million Euros co-production between Japan’s public broadcaster NHK and France’s Gedeon Programmes was a highlight of MIPDoc 2018. The series: JAPAN FROM ABOVE. Executive Producers Shin Yasuda and Nicolas Deschamps shared their co-production process in my panel after the World-premiere screening. We expanded the key points into an informative Case Study covering a …

Ken Burns’ ‘The Vietnam War’ Triples PBS’s Primetime Average

‘The Vietnam War’ from Ken Burns & Lynn Novick earned a hit-level PBS audience. This post on the 18-hour, $30 million ‘Vietnam’ series wraps up my coverage of PBS’s impressive factual ratings. (Read below my personal take on ‘Vietnam’ that is based on my eyewitness experience in wartime Laos as a 22 year old researcher / reporter …