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May 4, 2014 at 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Documentary Financing

With José Rodriguez, John T. Trigonis, Fred Siegel and Sierra Pettengill.

This session will address the eternal question: how to finance your doc? What are the pros and cons of different fundraising models (grants, equity investment, pre-sales, crowdsourcing)? We will also have veteran independent film accountant Fred Siegel to talk about tax ramifications and planning around financing as well as investor relations. Budgeting, how to find and successfully apply for grants, tips and tools for crowdfunding and other approaches to getting funded will be discussed in addition for this can’t-miss session.


Featured Presenters:

jose_final3José Rodriguez is the Manager of Documentary Programming at the Tribeca Film Institute. A native of Puerto Rico, he grew up with a passion for movies that led him to Syracuse University, where he wrote a feature script and directed two shorts. After interning as an assistant to producer Amy Hobby, he settled in New York City and became a script/book reader for Overture Films while also working on Tze Chun’s Children of Invention and the documentary Poor Consuelo Conquers the World. Follow him on Twitter: @theJoFer



Trig NoirA behind-the-scenes consulting machine, John T. Trigonis has mentored hundreds of filmmakers worldwide to create compelling crowdfunding experiences that not only reach, but also exceed their goals. An indie filmmaker and successful crowdfunder himself, Trigonis has literally written the book on Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, and puts his prowess to greater use as Indiegogo’s specialist for film and video campaigns.



fredFred Siegel is an indie film, tax, and business consultant and founder of Fred Siegel, CPA, specializing in key tax and business issues for producers and dealing with the business of film. Fred is a former jazz musician and entrepreneur: those experiences infuse Fred’s professional work today with an independent spirit and artistic bent and understanding of the lives of artists/producers, the world of business, and the interplay between the two. Fred has worked for over 20 years with independent filmmakers and their development and production companies and creative professionals. His experience includes working on numerous independent films, including “Winters Bone” and “Boys Don’t Cry,” and with both acclaimed filmmakers such as Christine Vachon, Debra Granik, and Paul Mezey, and filmmakers in earlier stages of their careers. Fred is a graduate of Columbia University (Economics, Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude) and attended NYU’s Graduate School of Business (taxation; accounting).

sierraSIERRA PETTENGILL is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker. Town Hall, her directorial debut, will broadcast on PBS’ America ReFramed on April 1, 2014. She is the producer of the Oscar-nominated documentary Cutie and the Boxer, and the archival producer of Matt Wolf’s Teenage (Tribeca ‘13) and Ross Kauffman & Katy Chevigny’s E-Team (Sundance ’14). For PBS, she was the associate producer of the Emmy-nominated Walt Whitman, as well as the Peabody Award-winning Triangle Fire. She was also the associate producer of HBO’s Wartorn: 1861 – 2010, produced by James Gandolfini, and Nick Bentgen’s Northern Light.


A reflection on love, sacrifice, and the creative spirit, this candid New York documentary explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of renowned “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara and his artist wife Noriko. As a rowdy, confrontational young artist in Tokyo, Ushio seemed destined for fame, but he is met with little commercial success after he moves to New York City in 1969, seeking international recognition. When 19-year-old Noriko moved to New York to study art, she fell in love with Ushio—abandoning her education to become the unruly artist’s wife and assistant. Over the course of their marriage, their roles shifted. Now 80, Ushio still struggles to establish his artistic legacy, while Noriko is at last being recognized for her own art—a series of drawings entitled “Cutie,” depicting her challenging past with Ushio. Spanning four decades, the film is a moving portrait of a couple wrestling with the eternal themes of sacrifice, disappointment and aging, against a background of lives dedicated to art.

A nuts-and-bolts professional development series designed for the beginning or intermediate documentary filmmaker, Documentary Fundamentals @ UnionDocs is six-week course culminating in a certificate of completion. Registrants can also attend individual sessions. This curriculum developed out of our experience hearing what fundamentals documentarians need to understand to plan, produce, and release an independent documentary today.

Hosted by the Cutie and the Boxer (2013) team, Documentary Fundamentals is essential learning for the documentary filmmaker, covering business basics, fundraising and financing, production and post-production strategies, transmedia campaigns, sales and distribution models.  Each session features guest speakers sharing tips and secrets of the trade, with an emphasis on real-life case studies and best practices.  Full guest speaker list to be announced.

Documentary Fundamentals is designed for beginning or intermediate filmmakers with projects in any stage of development or production (even the daydreaming stage!).  Sessions combine formal presentations with extensive time for in-depth discussions with participants.

Registrants completing all six sessions will receive a Certificate of Completion, and will have special opportunities to promote their projects within the UnionDocs network.  Specific guests and topics are subject to change. Doors will closed at 7:15 and we will being each session promptly at 7:30pm.


4/27 | Planning Your Documentary – featuring producer Tom Davis (SeeThink) and attorney Karen Shatzkin, hosted by Producer Sierra Pettengill.

5/4 | Financing Your Documentary – featuring José Rodriguez (Tribeca Film Institute), John T. Trigonis (Indiegogo) and CPA Fred Siegel, hosted by Producer Sierra Pettengill.

5/16 | Directing and Shooting Your Documentary – featuring Oscar-winning filmmaker Ross Kauffman,  award-winning filmmaker Malika Zouhali-Worrall, hosted by Director Zachary Heinzerling.

NOTE: This session will be hosted by AbelCine in Manhattan (609 Greenwhich Street)

5/18 | Editing Your Documentary – featuring editor David Teague (The Brooklyn Vitagraph Company), Will Cox (Final Frame) hosted by Director Zachary Heinzerling.

6/1 | Graphics, Music, and Your Transmedia Campaign – featuring graphic designer Teddy Blanks (CHIPS) and musician T. Griffin,  hosted by Director Zachary Heinzerling

NOTE: At 5pm before this session Macktez will present a special free planning bootcamp workshop as a supplement to the series, featuring Noah Landow and Reed Payne.

6/8 | Releasing Your Documentary – featuring programmer Dan Nuxoll (Rooftop Films), hosted by Producer Sierra Pettengill.




May 4, 2014
7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

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