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Jun 27, 2015 at 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Documentary Fundamentals Financing

With Tracie Holder, Sarah Meister, David Koh, and Chai Vasarhelyi.


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:

th-cropped-2-229x300Tracie Holder is an award-winning filmmaker, fundraising consultant and engagement campaign specialist.Clients include Women Make Movies, Active Voice, European Documentary Network, DocNomads and the Made in NY Media Center. She leads workshops both in the U.S. and abroad, consults on numerous documentary projects and runs engagement campaigns using social issue films to help shape public opinion and influence public policy. Holder is a former board member of NY Women in Film & Television and Manhattan Neighborhood Network and grant panelist for national and local funders. She has raised nearly $2 million for her projects from a mix of government funders, private foundations and individuals. Holder co-produced/directed/ wrote Joe Papp in Five Acts, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and screened at more than 40 festivals internationally. She is currently producing Mudflow, a documentary set in Indonesia, directed by Academy Award-winner Cynthia Wade and Executive Producer, Abby Disney.

sarahmSarah Meister currently serves as Head of Projects at Vann Alexandra, a creative services agency that finances projects through crowdfunding. Her film campaigns have included the Joan Didion documentary, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live(The Carter Office), Check It (Olive Productions, Macro Pictures), To the Edge of the Sky (Wider Film Projects) and The Earth Moves (Mr. Mudd) a documentary about Philip Glass and Bob Wilson’s opera Einstein on the Beach, which is currently live on Kickstarter. Her other projects at Vann Alexandra have included TLC’s final album, the NYCTA Graphic Standards manual, and Jane Green’s cookbook. Sarah is a New-York-based Texan with a background in post production and live TV as well as freelance public relations, social media and marketing. Past work experience includes Martha Stewart Living, Of A Kind, Mast Brothers Chocolate, Spot Welders and Centerbridge Partners. Sarah graduated from The University of Puget Sound with a bachelor’s in History and a minor in Sociology.

david koh photo David Koh is an independent producer, distributor, sales agent, curator & programmer. He has been involved in the acquisition, distribution, marketing, production, financing, release and sale of over 300 films. He is currently a partner with Josh Braun & Dan Braun at Submarine Entertainment, one of the leading sales agents in the world; and is partnered with Stanley Buchthal & Maja Hoffmann’s Dakota Group Ltd where he currently co-manages a combined slate and portfolio of approximately 50+ projects a year — 75% non-fiction and 25% fiction — in addition to producing & co-producing 10-15 projects a year. Prior to that he ran Chris Blackwell’s (founder of Island Records & Island Pictures) label, Palm Pictures, which included Manga Entertainment, RES Media Group, sputnik7, and several music labels and prior to that served as the Head of Acquisitions & Co-Productions for Wellspring Media one of the leading foreign language and independent film distributors which was subsequently sold to the Weinstein Co. David founded the boutique distributino imprint Arthouse Films and has worked with world renowned artist Nam June Paik as a Producer and served as an Editor of Film Culture Magazine with Jonas Mekas. He has worked in the Film Curatorial Departments of MoMA, Guggenheim Museum, and Anthology Film Archives and was the Founder & Artistic Director of the Santa Fe Film Festival & Goldeneye Film Festival in Jamaica. He has recently been a Curator at the Core Club in NYC and the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Arles, France and co-hosts a series of screenings & Film Salons with the Andre Balazs Hotel Group. He has served as a Curator for Microsoft.

David’s most recent and upcoming projects include: the launch of Submarine Deluxe distribution imprint, NFP Submarine Doks – a German distribution imprint, Submarine 360 a museum distribution imprint, and the films Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, Chris Burden: Double Bind, Yayoi Kusama: a Life in Polka Dots, Troublemakers: the Story of Land Art, Station to Station, The Record Man, Danny Says, Mavis!, the Heady Days of Hedy Lamarr, Rats NYC, Leica x 100, 22 Short Films about Kenny Scharf, 20 Feet from Stardom, Citizenfour, Dior & I, Iris, Searching for Sugar Man, Marina Abramovic: the Artist is Present, Jean-Michel Basquiat the Radiant Child, Waste Land, Cutie & the Boxer, Herb & Dorothy, Chasing Ice, Bill Cunningham New York, Finding Vivian Maier, Muscle Shoals, Nas: Time Is Illmatic. David studied Philosophy & Literature at the New School for Social Research and has been on the selection committee for Creative Capital Foundation.



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. Doors will close at 7:15 and we will begin each session promptly at 7:30pm.


FRI 6/26 – 7:00PM | 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 27, 2015
7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

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