Documentary Success Stories: Production Roadmap from Concept to Distribution


From Concept though Pitching & Funding to Delivery & Distribution

My unique, inspiring set of 50 Case Studies of award-winning documentary projects


  • 315 pages of detailed, original research
  • Projects in U.S., Australia, UK, Germany, Scandinavia, France and more.
  • Compelling Takeaways to help you plan your Next Steps
  • Numerous links to trailers, websites, Kickstarter campaigns, and additional resources
  • Netflix, A&E Networks, Nat Geo, Discovery, foundations and others are the buyers
  • And much more!

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Case Studies of 50 successful documentary & unscripted projects:
Track the many paths taken by filmmakers, from their initial concept and pitch to the funding and deal-making process, and then production and editing to distribution via theaters, and on channels like Discovery and platforms like Netflix


  • The Woman Who Loves Giraffes (from leading Canadian director Alison Reid)
  • The Siege of Mecca (ARTE, NDR-Germany, PBS International)
  • United Skates (Tribeca audience award-winner +HBO)
  • Letters from Baghdad (Successful theatrical run + BBC)
  • The Beatles: Eight Days A Week (Ron Howard’s $10 Mn +/- budget. Unique access.)
  • Sweet Micky for President (Celebrity production led by Fugees’ Pras Michel)
  • 2016 Obama’s America (Theatrical hit from the Trump-aligned right wing)
  • Flight of the Butterflies (Giant Screen release with a big budget)
  • BESA: The Promise (From veteran U.S. factual producer JWM Productions)


  • Bernie Blackout (A fast turnaround documentary on Bernie Sanders ’20 campaign for VICE)
  • 26 Days to Kill De Gaulle (from Fance’s Talweg Productions)
  • Native America ($3-4 Mn budget Signature PBS series)
  • MLK: The Assassination Tapes (Peabody Award-winner Tom Jennings)
  • The Fidel Castro Tapes (PBS/NGC International Co-production)
  • The Archive Comes Back in the ‘Post-Schedule Documentary Economy’
  • Challenger Disaster: The Lost Tapes (Nat Geo event reaches 171 countries! From Tom Jennings)
  • Every Face Has a Name (4K archive conversion creates value for Scandi producers)
  • A Shot to Save the World (Pittsburgh non-profit creates Smithsonian / BBC hit with Bill Gates. Peter Hamilton co-EP)
  • The LOST Kennedy Home Movies (History Channel U.S. special from veteran producer)
  • An Aussie / ABBA Love Doc (A $500k Aussie production)


  • Stormborn (A $1.5 Mn Wildlife copro by Love Nature, Smithsonian Channel, ARTE, BBC- & Screen- Scotland)
  • Pompeii Rising (A €1.6 Mn Copro from France’s Gedeon Productions)
  • The Cleaners (Sundance finals for a US$1.3 Mn investigative documentary from Berlin)
  • Japan from Above (NHK, Arte, Voyage + others share €1.5 Mn budget by Gedeon)
  • In Ebola’s Wake (High-risk production backed by Al Jazeera)
  • The Rise of the Killer Virus (Smithsonian, ARTE, CCTV-10 China + others)
  • Dino Stampede (ABC Australia, Smithsonian Networks)

Crowd Funding

  • An Honest Liar / Sons of Perdition
  • “Who the F*@% is Frank Zappa” ($1.1 Mn Pledged on Kickstarter)
  • Plimpton! (from New York-based indie producers)


  • Inside Wuhan (Short turnaround for CTV-Canada’s W5 strand)
  • A Producer at Risk in Siberia (Cold + corruption threaten project)
  • Cosmic Shore (NHK’s $6.5 Mn Live kick-off from Space + Special. Adapted for PBS)

Reality & Lifestyle

  • Pawn Stars (History)
    • The Rise & Rise of Pawn Stars and Leftfield Entertainment
    • The Rise & Rise of Pawn Stars and Leftfield Pictures: Concept, Talent, Sizzle Tape, Pitch, Green Light, HIT!!
    • Leftfield Pictures After Pawn Stars: A Structure, Doors Open, Renewals, Pitches, Green Lights. What Next?
    • Leftfield Pictures, 2007-2014 Snapshot: Episodes, Hours, Networks
    • Pawn Stars: Leftfield Puts Casting Under a Microscope
    • Pawn Stars: The Inside Story
    • Ten Negotiation Secrets of the Pawn Stars
    • ITV Studios to Pawn Stars Producer: “You’re Worth US$450 Million!”
  • Celebrity Ghost Stories (A+E Networks)
  • Antiques Roadshow (Long-lasting hit public television format)
  • Globe Trekker (Global public television and travel series)


  • Australia’s Stadium Documentary project (Big brands, government agencies and a sport leagues fund a highly creative project)
  • Tasty’s “Hands & Pans” (Online formats threaten value of channels)
  • Choppertown: (LA producer navigates Facebook, Amazon’s various platforms with their changing revshares, Download-to-Own, and more)

315 pages

These and more are combined in my Case Study success pack, an invaluable resource for producers, network executives, researchers and new entrants to the nonfiction industry.

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