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Jun 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Documentary Fundamentals: Planning

With Sara Jordenö, Gabriel Sedgwick, and attorney David Morrison

This session of Documentary Fundamentals covers all the basics of PLANNING YOUR DOCUMENTARY. 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 these issues including legal rights and clearances, business basics for filmmakers, budgeting, and structuring agreements for talent and crew. Plus more on how to stay organized and on top of all these moving parts during the early stages of planning your documentary!


Sara Jordenö is a NYC-based documentary filmmaker, visual artist, researcher and educator. Jordenö’s longitudinal projects often engage with communities who reside in the margins, focusing on their strategies of survival. In the process of making these works, Sara has collaborated with (and at times shared authorship with) sociologists, activists, community organizers and members of the communities that she investigates. Her feature documentary KIKI, which premiered in the US documentary competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016, has since been shown in over 60 festivals on five continents. KIKI, which was co-written with community leader Twiggy Pucci Garcon and produced by Story and Hard Working Movies, was awarded the Teddy Award for Best Documentary Film at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights at Full Frame Documentary Festival, The German Queerscope Award and Outfest’s Emerging Talent Award, among other awards. KIKI was released theatrically in Sweden in the summer of 2016 by Folkets Bio and the US in the spring of 2017 by Sundance Selects/IFC. For KIKI, Jordenö was nominated for the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award. In 2016 she was named by Variety and EFP as one of “Ten Women Filmmakers to Watch.”

Gabriel Sedgwick hails from Sweden but lives in New York City, where he has produced several award-winning films that have screened at festivals such as SXSW, New Directors/New Films, Urbanworld, BAM’s New Voices in Black Cinema, and Karlovy Vary, including Lanre Olabisi’s fiction features AUGUST THE FIRST and SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE (both distributed by Film Movement in the US). As Head of Production at Brooklyn-based production company Hard Working Movies, he also co-produced Jeremiah Zagar’s feature-length documentary CAPTIVATED: THE TRIALS OF PAMELA SMART, which premiered in competition at Sundance 2014 and was broadcast on HBO in the US and on television all over the world, and recently line produced Sara Jordenö’s KIKI, which premiered in competition at Sundance 2016, won the Teddy for best feature-length doc at the Berlin International Film Festival 2016, and is distributed in the U.S. by IFC Films. He most recently produced Penny Lane’s short documentary JUST ADD WATER for CNN Films, and is currently in production on a bunch of wacky things. He is a National Board of Review fellow, a Berlin Film Festival Talents alumni, and when not making movies, can be heard emitting falsetto noises in the Brooklyn-based musical constellation Odd Rumblings.

David Morrison is an experienced entertainment attorney, focusing his practice on transactions in media, film, and television production. Prior to joining the firm, David was a faculty member at the Cardozo School of Law where he co-founded and directed The Indie Film Clinic, the first non-profit clinical program in New York dedicated to providing production and clearance representation to scripted and documentary film productions.

David has represented numerous clients as production counsel on rights acquisitions, financing, production contracts, and clearance issues (including fair use and First Amendment matters) as well as co-production, sales, and distribution agreements.

David’s recent representative film clients include:

  • 2017 Sundance documentary Whose Streets?
  • Film Independent Spirit Award nominee Anja Marquardt (2015 nominee for Best First Screenplay and Best First Feature for She’s Lost Control).
  • Ingrid Jungermann (2017 nominee for the Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award for Women Who Kill).
  • SXSW Audience Award nominee, La Camioneta.

David has also represented production work on the following films: After Spring, Goodnight Brooklyn: The Story of Death By Audio, GORED, Mad Tiger, Memories of a Penitent Heart,Evaporating Borders, and Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters, among others. David’s practice focuses on representation of writers, directors, producers, and actors in motion picture and television development and talent agreements.

Buy A Series Pass

DOCUMENTARY FUNDAMENTALS! A nuts-and-bolts professional development series designed for the emerging or intermediate documentary filmmaker, Documentary Fundamentals at UnionDocs is six-part program taking place over the course of one weekend. Buy a SERIES PASS ($125) or choose to attend individual sessions ($25/each). This program has been an ongoing series at UnionDocs for many years. It developed from our experience with documentarians who needed a better foundation across the board to navigate production and distribution as an independent filmmaker in today’s landscape.

$125.00Add to cart


Jun 23, 2017
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm


BROOKLYN, NY 11211 United States

UnionDocs is grateful for support from:


UnionDocs Labs

Find out more about our Summer Documentary Lab and Collaborative Studio here!

World Records


We’ve launched our new peer-reviewed documentary journal World Records. Volume I, The Documentary Camera, is now online!