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Jun 26, 2015 at 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Documentary Fundamentals Planning

With Nicole Page, Sam Cullman, and Chai Vasarhelyi.

About Documentary Fundamentals Planning:

What are the essential business and legal issues to consider as you plan your documentary film? What can you do now to avoid problems later? Do you need an LLC? What is E&O insurance? This session covers issues of legal rights and clearances, business basics for filmmakers, budgeting, structuring agreements for talent and crew, and more.

Featured Presenters:

nicolepageNicole Page is Partner of Reavis Parent Lehrer LLP and practices in the areas of media, entertainment, intellectual property and employment law. She has broad experience in providing advice with respect to all aspects of motion picture, television and new media productions, and in counseling writers, producers and other creative personnel and entertainment industry executives concerning all facets of their work. She regularly serves as production counsel for film, television and digital productions and assists in structuring private equity investments and other types of production financing. Ms. Page works with authors in connection with their collaboration, literary agent and publishing agreements. Her extensive intellectual property practice includes advice on protection and exploitation of copyrights and trademarks across multi-media platforms. Ms. Page also works with clients in connection with cross-platform branding and licensing in the worlds of media, fashion, lifestyle, sports and entertainment.

Ms. Page regularly lectures and writes on legal issues in the arts and media. She has appeared on panels at SXSW, Hot Docs, The Napa Valley Film Festival, Slamdance, The Hamptons International Film Festival, The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers, IFP and Real Screen, among other festivals and conferences. Ms. Page also produces a Business and Legal Seminar Series for New York Women in Film and Television covering topics including production company formation and management, copyright and fair use and various employment issues. She has been a guest lecturer at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and School of Continuing Education, Hunter College’s Department of Film and Media Studies, Cardozo Law School, The Fashion Institute of Technology and The Department of Film and Media Studies at Hunter College. Ms. Page is the Chair of the Board of Women Make Movies. She is also a member of New York Women in Film and Television, and the Independent Feature Project.

SC headshot 2011 hiresSam Cullman is an award-winning cinematographer, producer and director of documentaries. His latest film, ART AND CRAFT (2014), which Cullman shot, produced and directed with Jennifer Grausman and co-director Mark Becker, won the National Board of Review Top 5 Documentaries in 2014 and was shortlisted for the 2015 Academy Awards. Cullman also produced and shot the Peabody and Sundance Grand Jury prize-winning THE HOUSE I LIVE IN (2012), directed by Eugene Jarecki. Later that year his short film, BLACK CHEROKEE (2012), which Cullman directed, shot and produced with Benjamin Rosen, premiered at DOC NYC. With director Marshall Curry, Cullman also co-directed, shot and produced IF A TREE FALLS (2011), which won the U.S. Documentary Editing Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and later received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Documentary Feature. In addition to camerawork on his own films, Cullman’s cinematography has also appeared in dozens of other documentaries including WATCHERS OF THE SKY (2014), REAGAN (2011), and KING CORN (2006). A graduate of Brown University (1999) with Honors in Visual Art and a second major in Urban Studies, Cullman currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.


About Documentary Fundamentals:

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 Chai Vasarhelyi of Little Monster Films, 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. For 2015, the series will use the feature documentary Meru as a case study. Meru was co-directed by Vasarhelyi and premiered this year in competition at the Sundance Film Festival. 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. 

Documentary Fundamentals Full Schedule:

FRI 6/26 – 7:00 PM | Planning Your Documentary 

SAT 6/27 – 1:00PM | Financing Your Documentary –

SAT 6/27 – 4:00PM | Directing and Shooting Your Documentary –

SAT 6/27 – 7:00PM | Editing Your Documentary –

SUN 6/28 – 1:00PM | Graphics, Music, and Your Transmedia Campaign –

SUN 6/28 – 4:00PM | Releasing Your Documentary


chai-209x300Chai Vasarhelyi is an award-winning director and producer.  Her first film, A Normal Life, won Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2003.  Her second film, Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love, was released in theaters in the U.S. and internationally. The film premiered at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals and won numerous awards including the Special Jury Prize at the Middle East International Film Festival in 2008 and a nomination for the Pare Lorentz Award at the 2009 International Documentary Association Awards.  Touba, a visceral documentary experience that takes the viewer through each step of the annual Mouride pilgrimage, the Grand Magaal in Touba, Senegal, premiered at SXSW 2013 where it won the Special Jury Prize for Best Cinematography.  She returned to Senegal in 2012 to document the heated Presidential elections.  Incorruptible (formerly An African Spring), the intense and unflinching story of Senegalese democracy is currently in post-production. She is also currently working on two American stories: The Home Front (formerly Little Troopers), a film about the impact of American soldiers’ deployments on their families left behind; and Father School, a glimpse into the Korean American movement towards becoming more in-touch fathers and husbands.  Vasarhelyi has received grants from several foundations including the Sundance Documentary Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, BRITDOC, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the William and Mary Greve Foundation.   She was selected as a 2013 Sundance Documentary Film Fellow, named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2005 and received an Achievement Award from Creative Visions foundation in 2008.   She has been featured in numerous publications including, The New YorkerThe Wall Street JournalVogue and New York Magazine. Chai has a B.A. from Princeton University in Comparative Literature.


Workshop Policies:

Registration & Cancellation To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via PayPal. In the event a student must withdraw from a class, he or she may do so any time before the start of the workshop, and will receive a 75% refund of class costs. After this deadline, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.

In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.


Jun 26, 2015
7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

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