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May 19, 2017 at 10:00 am – May 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Making Queer Documentary

Learn to create impactful documentaries during this three-day intensive with LGBTQ media makers.

Celebrate queer documentary and learn from the unique experiences of LGBTQ makers during this intensive workshop. Award-winning queer filmmakers, producers, programmers and distributors will take you through their processes of creating and sharing queer documentary.

In today’s political and economic landscape, what is the importance of queer documentary, and what does it take to create one? What can queer documentary teach us about making nonfiction works that signify diverse life experiences and provoke social change? How can you get your film — and its message — out into the world? This intensive three-day workshop will explore all aspects of creating documentary for social impact with an LGBTQ lens. Guests will lead workshop participants through the content creation and distribution processes — from choosing project ideas and securing funding to getting a film off the ground and finding the stamina to complete it; from figuring out festival submissions and navigating new avenues for distribution to working in non-traditional mediums like podcasts and webisodes.

During the weekend intensive, you will have the opportunity to workshop your own nonfiction work-in-progress. Pitch a new idea. Share a trailer. Or, get feedback on your treatment or film proposal. Participants are encouraged to share projects at any stage of development.  

Led by Emmy-nominated filmmaker Cheryl Furjanic (Back on Board: Greg Louganis), this seminar brings together practitioners from all areas of the queer documentary world to explore creating nonfiction content with greater impact. Participants need not identify as queer to attend, but there will be a focus on and celebration of LGBTQ narratives and experiences.


Open to everyone. We are looking for filmmakers, film producers and distributors, web and podcast makers and other multimedia artists interested in developing their documentary with a fantastic group of queer artists. All queer and queer-allied makers are welcome! Those with a desire to create nonfiction works with social impact encouraged to apply.

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 session), 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).

$295 early bird registration by May 5th at 5PM.

$350 regular registration.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until May 5th. After May 5th, the fee is non-refundable.

In order to keep costs down, this workshop is b-y-o-m, bring your own laptop. Recording equipment is not required, but iPhones or other handheld recording equipment is welcomed. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their own computers or other equipment.

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.


Friday, May 19, – 10:00a - 5:00p

Friday, May 19: 10am-5pm — Directing and Producing Impactful Stories

AM: DIRECTING QUEER DOCS — Award-winning filmmaker Yoruba Richen has screened her film The New Black (2013) over 200 times at film festivals, community screenings, colleges, churches and many more venues. In this workshop, she shares her experiences about directing queer documentary — getting the green light, choosing your subjects, working with crews, interview techniques, how to keep your stamina going when you’re exhausted, and strategies for using your film in the community.

AM: PRODUCING STRATEGIES — Kim Reed, director of Prodigal Sons (2008) and producer of the new film The Death and Life of Marsh P. Johnson (2017), shares her decades-long experience with producing documentaries. Her session will unpack and explore the sometimes mysterious role of a producer, covering topics such as developing ideas, finding funding, assembling a team, working with directors, overcoming hurdles, and more. She will share crucial insight from her own impressive work as a longtime queer producer in the industry.

Saturday, May 20 – 10:00a - 5:00p

Saturday, May 20: 10am-5pm — Creating Content and Planning Your Queer Doc

AM: ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO NONFICTION — Looking to branch out from feature-length or short documentaries? Look no further than this panel for inspiration from three makers of nontraditional queer nonfiction. Eric Marcus (Making Gay History, a podcast), Nicole Opper (The F Word, a docu-comedy web series), and Mor Erlich (Sez Me, an LGBT web series for the whole family) will discuss developing an idea, choosing a medium to work in, getting your project off the ground, working collaboratively, building an audience, building momentum, and more.

PM: QUEER DOCS WORKS-IN-PROGRESS WORKSHOP — Filmmaker Cheryl Furjanic has been teaching documentary production at NYU for nearly two decades. She has helped over 100 students — and dozens of independent filmmakers —  complete films during that time. Come prepared to discuss your current LGBTQ documentary project-in-progress. Cheryl will act as your queer docu-mentor during this two-hour session — helping you brainstorm for your next big shoot, climb over creative hurdles, or jump-start your post-production plan.

Sunday, May 21 – 10:00a - 5:00p

Sunday, May 21: 10am-5pm — Distribution, Audience Engagement and Community Outreach

AM: FINDING AND CREATING A HOME FOR YOUR WORK — Programmer and filmmaker Felix Endara has experience with all aspects of finding homes for queer film. In this panel, he will speak as both a queer media maker about the process of getting work seen, and as a programmer about what it takes to get films noticed and selected for festivals, funding, screenings, and more.

PM: DISTRIBUTION AND OUTREACH — Join Vanessa Domico of Outcast Films for this session on distributing queer documentary where she will trace the trajectory of markets for queer films (from traditional methods to new frontiers), share tips for first-time filmmakers, discuss marketing and distribution options for outreach campaigns, sales, and more.

Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:


Warm up, inspiring references, case study, eye training.


Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique




Share / Discussion / Exercise


Lunch (on your own)


Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique




Workshop Exercise + Critique


Wrap Up



Cheryl Furjanic is an award-winning filmmaker whose documentary and fiction films have screened at 150+ festivals worldwide and on television. Her most recent feature documentary, Back on Board: Greg Louganis was broadcast on HBO and nominated for an Emmy award and Producers Guild of America award in 2016. The film gained critical and audience acclaim on the film festival circuit, screening at over 40 festivals worldwide and picking up 8 awards. “Back on Board” was also selected for the American Film Showcase, a program of the U.S. State Department that brings award-winning contemporary American documentaries around the world offering a view of American society and culture as seen by independent filmmakers. In 2014 she was named to the OUT100 — Out Magazine’s list of the most compelling LGBT people of the year. Her feature documentary, Sync or Swim (2008), premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and received numerous awards including a Billie Award for Journalism from the Women’s Sports Foundation. She has done freelance writing and consulting for NBC Universal and other media companies. Furjanic consults regularly for filmmakers and independent artists on crowdfunding and social media campaigns. She was recently an LGBT contributing editor for the Comcast/Xfinity LGBT blog, writing about LGBT movies and television shows. Cheryl Furjanic has been teaching documentary production at New York University in the Culture & Media Program for 17 years.


Kimberly Reed is the country’s leading transgender documentary filmmaker. Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” OUT Magazine’s “Out 100,” and Towleroad’s “LGBT Film Character Of The Year,” Kimberly Reed uses her position as the first commercially-released transgender filmmaker to tell compelling stories. Her work has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, NPR, Details magazine, and the Moth Radio Hour, leading to fellowships with New York Foundation for the Arts, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and Yaddo Artists’ Community. She produced and directed the landmark documentary Prodigal Sons (2008). The film garnered 14 Audience and Jury awards and landed on numerous “Best of the Year” lists after a successful theatrical run.


Eric Marcus is the creator and host of the Making Gay History podcast, which brings to life the voices of champions, heroes, and witnesses to LGBTQ history.  He is the author of a dozen books, including the award-winning Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian & Gay Equal Rights; Why Suicide?; and Is It A Choice?  He is also co-author of Breaking the Surface, the #1 New York Times best-selling autobiography of Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis, and Coming Out to Play, the autobiography of professional soccer player Robbie Rogers. Eric is a former associate producer for ABC television’s “Good Morning America” and CBS Morning News. He also served as associate producer for Stonewall Uprising, a PBS “American Experience” documentary, and was supervising producer for two recent documentaries on the experience of suicide loss. Eric is a graduate of Vassar College and earned his master’s degrees from Columbia University in journalism and real estate development.


Nicole Opper is an Emmy®-nominated filmmaker who directed and produced the feature documentary Off and Running, an Audience Favorite at Tribeca and winner of ten international awards including Best Documentary at Outfest and the WGA Best Documentary Screenplay at Silverdocs. The film was nationally broadcast on P.O.V. in 2010. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to direct Visitor’s Day, a US-Mexico co-production supported by New York State Council on the Arts, Chicken & Egg Pictures and The Independent Television Service that has screened at the Guadalajara Int’l Film Festival and AFI Docs. The F Word is her first “mini-docu” series, produced by ITVS for PBS Digital Studios. She’s also produced films for The Discovery Channel and Here TV, and was selected for Filmmaker Magazine’s annual “25 New Faces of Independent Film”. Nicole has taught filmmaking at Stanford University and San Francisco State University, and currently runs the BAVC National MediaMaker Fellowship which supports emerging non-fiction artists through professional mentorship and industry events.


Mor Erlich is the creator of Sez Me, a groundbreaking queer web-series. Sez Me is an LGBT affirmative children’s show that uses animation and on-screen drag queen host, Charmin Ultra, to feature topics on gender and identity. Since relocating to New York City from Israel in 1996, Mor has steadily created collaborations in animation shorts, music videos, and films dedicated to highlighting social issues and political undercurrents. For two years Mor worked with homeless LGBT teens at the Ali Forney Center as a youth counselor. He has continued his advocacy work promoting trans visibility and gender fluidity through presentations on inclusiveness and drag workshops with youth in the NYC area.


Yoruba Richen is an award – winning documentary filmmaker whose directed films in the U.S. and abroad.  Her work has been featured on PBS, New York Times Op Doc, New York Magazine’s website, The Cut and The Atlantic.  Her last feature documentary, The New Black won multiple audience awards and, won best documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a GLAAD Media Award.  Yoruba’s previous film Promised Land, received a Diverse Voices Co-Production fund award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and won the Fledgling Fund award for social issue documentary.  She recently won a Clio award for her short film about the Grammy nominated singer Andra Day.  Yoruba won the Creative Promise Award at Tribeca All Access and was also a Sundance Producers Fellow.  She is a featured TED Speaker and a Guggenheim Fellow and a 2016 recipient of the Chicken & Egg Breakthrough Filmmaker Award.   

Felix Endara - march 2017

Born in Ecuador, Felix Endara is a New York-based independent filmmaker and programmer whose films have screened at festivals including Berlin, Frameline, Outfest, NewFest, DOC NYC, and Mill Valley. From 2008 to 2012, he programmed Arts Engine’s documentary screening series DocuClub, which he toured to Mexico City and Silver Spring, Maryland. In 2010, he was a fellow at the IFP Documentary Finishing Lab as producer for WILDNESS (2012, Dir: Wu Tsang), which follows the trajectory of a gay male bar in Los Angeles as its transforms into a refuge for immigrant Latina transgender women. It premiered at MoMa’s Documentary Fortnight series in February 2012, was an official selection at SXSW, and screened at the Whitney Biennial later that year. He also produced ARTICLE OF FAITH (2011, Dir: Christina Antonakos-Wallace), which received the “Changemaker Award” at the Media That Matters film festival in 2011. The short portrays anti-bullying Sikh activist Sonny Singh and his fight to ban discrimination in New York City schools. In addition, Felix participated in Working Films/Fledgling Fund’s first Reel Engagement workshop, in New York, focusing on outreach and audience engagement; and in documentary trainings at Amsterdam’s IDFA Academy and Dok-Leipzig’s Co-Production Meetings, in Germany. He has been a reviewer for P.O.V., Tribeca All Access, Tribeca Film Festival, NewFest, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and the New York Asian American International Film Festival; and an advisor for Cinereach Reach Fellows. In 2013, he served as a jury member of the New Orleans Film Festival. His short documentary GRIT & GRIND (directed by Felix Endara and Sasha Wortzel) tells the story of the Clit Club, an edgy lesbian club set in New York’s Meatpacking District in the 1990s, as the city struggled with the AIDS epidemic. The film had its debut at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2014. The film also screened at DOCNYC in 2014, where Felix was a winner of the festival’s Doc-A-Thon series pitch panel workshop. He is currently working on a short series about how trans people choose their names.


Vanessa Domico brings over 25 years of business experience in both the corporate and non-profit sectors. After receiving her BS in Film Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and a MFA in Photography from Cornell, Vanessa transitioned to the business side of filmmaking by joining the team of WMM (Women Make Movies), first as the Marketing and Distribution Director and eventually holding the position of Deputy Director. In 2004, Vanessa left WMM to start Outcast Films, a filmmaker friendly, socially progressive, leading educational distribution company committed to delivering fresh, compelling documentaries into classrooms and libraries. By engineering several successful educational outreach campaigns including “HIV@30” and “Response to Hate” and for films such as Shored Up and Growing Up Coy, Vanessa, optimistically, has worked hard to raised awareness around important social justice and urgent environmental issues including tolerance, rising sea levels, and basic human rights.

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May 19, 2017 at 10:00 am
May 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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