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Feb 10, 2017 at 5:00 am – Feb 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Safeguarding Sources: Encryption and Trauma Protection

With lead instructor Sonia Kennebeck and guests Lyric R. Cabral, Harlo Holmes, Quinn Norton, Jack Saul and Jonathan Stribling-Uss

From Standing Rock to Ferguson, documentary filmmakers, journalists and other media crew find themselves forced to work in increasingly dangerous or sensitive conditions. Many documentarians may not know their legal rights or may not have the skills or tools to protect themselves or their crew and subjects. This workshop seeks to expand source protection to cover more than just encrypting data. Over the course of three days, participants will explore what it takes to protect those who endanger themselves to investigate injustice.

This three-day intensive will explore the ethics and challenges of investigating and documenting high-stakes, dangerous and traumatic situations and events. It is designed to familiarize documentary makers with their legal rights and ethical obligations and to introduce strategies for protecting their subjects and crews. The workshop will cover how to protect sources and data and how to keep crew and subjects safe during and after filming. Topics to be discussed will include physical, legal and emotional/psychological protection. It will also cover best practices for shooting and sharing sensitive or dangerous information. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to engage protection and security through a unique range of guests, including filmmakers, law and trauma professionals, and internet and data security experts.

Participants will have the opportunity to receive legal, safety, data encryption and self-care advice for their current and future projects. The workshop will culminate in a public CryptoParty to share practical strategies and tools for data encryption and security.


Open to everyone. We are looking for filmmakers, film producers, journalists, television and radio makers, hackers, and other media artists interested in data security and source and crew protection in volatile conditions.

Give us an idea of who you are and why you are coming. When you register you will be asked for a short statement of interest that should briefly describe your experience and a film project (it would be great if you have a project in progress that you would present to the group during the work-in-progress critique sessions), plus a bio. There’s a spot for a link to a work sample (and CV, which would also be nice, but is not required).

$285 early bird registration by February 6th at 5PM.

$385 regular registration.

Includes Thursday and Sunday night public events.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until February 6th. After February 6th, the fee is non-refundable.

In order to keep costs down, this workshop is a BYOL, i.e. bring your own laptop. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via PayPal. Course fees are not refundable or transferable, and any withdrawals 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.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Thursday, February 9: 7:30pm

Justifiable Paranoia: National Bird & Aaron Brown

A public screening of Sonia Kennebeck’s 2016 documentary National Bird with special guests Sonia Kennebeck and Curtis Wallen. This event is included in the workshop registration fee, but participants must RSVP in advance.

Friday, February 10: 10am-5pm

AM: Sonia Kennebeck, producer and director of National Bird (2016), will provide an overview of working on a sensitive or potentially dangerous topic. Her session will introduce the fundamental protection issues relevant to working at the intersection of documentary film and investigative journalism. She will discuss such crucial issues as how to secure the right production insurances, how to film in hostile environments and how to maintain crew and source safety before, during and after filming.

PM: Jack Saul, trauma expert and director of the International Trauma Studies Program, will provide an overview of collective trauma and will talk about how documentary makers can deal with past and current traumatic conditions. Whether helping a source talk about a past traumatic event or recovering from a dangerous film shoot, emotional protection is an increasingly important aspect of investigative work.

Saturday, February 11: 10am-5pm

AM: Jonathan Stribling-Uss, Esq., lawyer, digital security expert and director of Constitutional Communications, will discuss documentary makers’ legal and civil rights when working on sensitive investigative projects. He will share strategies and tools for privacy protection and tactics for the legal safeguarding of data and sources.

PM: Lyric R. Cabral, director, producer and cinematographer, will provide an in-depth discussion of her 2015 documentary (T)ERROR. She will discuss how to perform a risk-assessment of your film, best practices for researching sensitive material online, how to safeguard your data, the ethics of preparing a “whistleblower” and strategies for filming sensitive material in the field.

Sunday, Feburary 12: 10am-5pm

AM: Quinn Norton, journalist, internet activist and subject of The Internet’s Own Boy (2014), will talk about her traumatic experience as a subject of investigation, offering makers insight into how to protect their subjects’ emotional lives. She will follow this with a session introducing digital literacy. Documentary makers who understand the fundamentals of digital media can make informed, ethical decisions about how to protect data and sources.

PM: Harlo Holmes, encryption expert and director of Newsroom Digital Security at Freedom of the Press Foundation, will discuss how documentary makers can prepare for security through identity and data management and using best practices when recording and sharing information. She will introduce crucial tactics and tools documentary makers can use for source, data and self protection.

**Special Sunday night public event begins at 7:30pm**

UNDO CRYPTOPARTY! Learn tools for online privacy and digital data protection at UnionDocs first-ever CryptoParty. Special guest facilitators include Harlo Holmes, Quinn Norton, Matt Mitchell, Chris Klapis, Allison Burtch and a guest from NYC Resistor. This is a free public event. RSVP’s required. Spaces are limited!


Sonia Kennebeck, Director & Producer – Ten Forward Films

Sonia Kennebeck is an independent documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist with more than 15 years of directing and producing experience. She has directed eight television documentaries and more than 50 investigative reports. Most recently, she completed her first feature-length documentary, National Bird, a film about the U.S. drone war which was executive produced by Wim Wenders and Errol Morris and premiered in the prestigious Specials Section of the Berlin Film Festival 2016 and was also selected for Tribeca, Sheffield and IDFA, among many other festivals. Filmmaker Magazine selected Sonia Kennebeck as one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film 2016. Sonia Kennebeck received a Master’s degree in International Affairs from American University in Washington, D.C. She was born in Malacca, Malaysia and lives in New York.

Jack Saul, Psychologist & Director of International Trauma Studies Program

Jack Saul, Ph.D. is the founding director of the International Trauma Studies Program (ITSP) and Assistant Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. As a psychologist and family therapist he has created numerous programs for populations that have endured war, torture and political violence, including the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, the FEMA funded Post 9/11 Downtown Community Resource Center in Lower Manhattan, REFUGE: Refugee Resource Center, and Theater Arts Against Political Violence.  He has written about this work in his book, Collective Trauma, Collective Healing: Promoting Community Resilience in the Aftermath of Disaster (Routledge, 2013). Dr. Saul  has a private practice in Manhattan and consults to humanitarian, human rights, and media organizations on staff stress management and trauma informed care.

Jonathan Stribling-Uss, Lawyer & Director of Constitutional Communications

Jonathan Stribling-Uss, Esq. is the director of Constitutional Communications, a nonprofit organization that specializes in information security for professionals and civil society organizations. He has led trainings and accredited CLEs (Continuing Legal Education) for hundreds of attorneys and law students on cybersecurity, professional ethics, international law, and attorney-client communications with the NYCLA (New York County) Bar Association, Law For Black Lives, and the Continuing Legal Resource Network at CUNY (City University Of New York). He has also trained journalists, foundations, activists, and technologists from more then 40 countries at the Center for Constitutional Rights, Thoughtworks global corporation, the International Development Exchange, the Legal Clinics of the CUNY School of Law, and The Florestan Fernandes National School in Brazil. His work was recently featured in NY Magazine and Brazil de Fato news magazine.

Lyric R. Cabral, Director, Producer & Cinematographer

Director/Producer Lyric R. Cabral has over a decade of experience documenting the under-reported intersections of race and surveillance in the post 9-11 world.  Lyric’s investigative work is defined by an insider, character driven perspective and seeks to expose vital information for the public record.  Cabral’s debut film (T)ERROR, the first film to portray an active FBI counterterrorism sting operation, won the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for Breakout First Feature, the 2015 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.  Lyric was among Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film, and her documentary work has been recently broadcast on PBS, BBC, VICELAND, PIVOT, and National Geographic Channel UK.  Cabral is currently directing THE RASHOMON EFFECT, an immersive examination of the shooting of Michael O.D. Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.

Quinn Norton, Journalist, Digital Literacy Expert & Internet Activist

Quinn Norton is a writer who likes to hang out in the dead end alleys and rough neighborhood of the Internet, where bad things can happen to defenseless little packets. They are also places were new freedoms and poetries are born, and run riot over the network. She started studying hackers in 1995, after a wasted youth of Usenet and BBSing. These days, Quinn is a journalist, published in Wired, The Atlantic, Maximum PC, and more. She covers science, technology, copyright law, robotics, body modification, and medicine, but no matter how many times she tries to leave, she always comes back to hackers. Quinn was a subject in the 2014 documentary The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.

Harlo Holmes, Encryption Expert & Director of Newsroom Digital Security at Freedom of the Press Foundation

Harlo Holmes is the Director of Newsroom Digital Security at Freedom of the Press Foundation. She strives to help individual journalists in various media organizations become confident and effective in securing their communications within their newsrooms, with their sources, and with the public at large. She is a media scholar, software programmer, and activist; and contributes regularly to the open source mobile security collective The Guardian Project.

Who's Attending

12 people are attending Safeguarding Sources: Encryption and Trauma Protection

  • Brent Chesanek
  • Nottapon Boonprakob
  • Doug Anderson
  • Andrew Meier
  • Loira Limbal
  • Ned McEleney
  • Aidan Tumas
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Feb 10, 2017 at 5:00 am
Feb 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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