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May 4, 2018 at 10:00 am – May 6, 2018 at 5:00 pm

BRANDED DOCUMENTARIES: An Intensive 3-day Seminar on Creative Content

Led by Brian Newman

This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Please sign up for the waitlist below to receive updates regarding any openings or similar future opportunities.

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This seminar is a theoretical and practical intensive course designed for documentary filmmakers and media artists looking to develop their skill sets in the emerging field of branded content. Clients are looking to engage with their customers through creative collaborations. Filmmakers are using this new model to finance their own works. Together, we will explore new business models in the media and entertainment industry, and offer technical tools and strategies for working with clients while developing and maintaining a creative voice.

Film producer and branded content strategist Brian Newman will lead the seminar with five guest instructors who are thinkers and practitioners from different disciplines: producers, marketers and strategists, entrepreneurs and filmmakers. The goal is to expose a small group (the audience is limited to 15 students) to a broad range of creative approaches to branded documentary, including audience engagement, online and cultural marketing, branded and creative content, fundraising strategy, pitching brands/clients, digital innovation and film production/distribution.


Photo Credit: Beyond the Off Season by Ben Moon, Yeti Films
Cover photo: Fishpeople by Keith Malloy, Patagonia


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for filmmakers, film producers, journalists, curators, brand representatives and media artists.

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).

$295 early registration by April 20

$350 regular registration

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until April 20th. After April 20th, the fee is non-refundable.

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.

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.

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


Friday, May 4: 10:00am - 5:00pm

Friday – The filmmaker as an artist-entrepreneur

The first day of the seminar looks in-depth at the ways we produce and distribute films today, recent examples of branded content and best practices. Why are brands moving into documentary? What are some of the best examples? We’ll also hear from a producer who has worked with multiple brands to create documentary features and episodic series.


AM: Rob Sheard

PM: Brian Newman

Saturday, May 5: 10:00am - 5:00pm

Saturday – New strategies for brands

The second day of the intensive focuses on content and cultural marketing. How do the brands implement successful marketing campaign and generate audience engagement with the help of artists and filmmakers? We’ll also look at pitching brands and hear examples from filmmakers about the process of working with brands.


AM: Trish Dalton

PM: Megan Cunningham

Sunday, May 6: 10:00am - 5:00pm

Sunday – The final cut

The third day explores the creative execution of branded content. What is the impact of brands on the process? Look at examples of creative pitches to brands. Apply lessons to your projects.


AM: Gabriel London

PM: Final presentation, critique and discussion of individual projects

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



Brian Newman is the founder of Sub-Genre, a consulting company focusing on developing and implementing new business models for film and new media. Current clients include: Patagonia, developing film strategies, including distribution and marketing for the feature documentaryDamNation; Sundance Institute on a film data project; and several filmmakers on fundraising, distribution and marketing.

Brian Newman, founder of Sub-Genre, consults on content development, financing, distribution and marketing to help connect brands and filmmakers with audiences. Clients include: Patagonia, New York Times, Sonos, Sundance, Vulcan Productions and Zero Point Zero.

Brian is also the producer of the upcoming The Wild (doc), The Outside Story (narrative), and  Love & Taxes; (narrative); and executive producer of Shored UpThe Invisible World (docs) and Remittance (narrative). Brian has served as CEO of the Tribeca Film Institute, president of Renew Media and executive director of IMAGE Film & Video. Brian serves on the boards of Muse Film & Television and IndieCollect, and the advisory board of the Camden International Film Festival.

Megan Cunningham

Megan Cunningham began in broadcast television and independent film production, which uncovered a lot of curiosity and frustration with the underlying technology that was hindering innovation in the industry. She took a brief hiatus in the late ’90s from the production world and worked for a tech startup company as employee number two. In 2000, she launched Magnet Media, initially to help tech marketers use video and storytelling to reach their consumers. Their first client was Apple.

Rob Sheard

At Zero Point Zero Rob has lead collaborations with brands and foundations on award winning creative output across multiple platforms, touchpoints and experiences to engage the audience on their terms to build a sustained connection. Recent projects include the film Wasted! The Story of Food Waste supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and an Emmy nominated special episode of The Mind of a Chef in partnership with Sonos.

Trish Dalton

Trish is a Brooklyn based, award winning filmmaker whose documentaries have broadcast on Time Warner, PBS, and Ovation after screening at many film festivals, including: SXSW, Miami International, Boston Independent, Denver Starz, Nashville, True/False, DOC NYC, Full Frame, and Tribeca.

With a focus on social justice, many of her documentaries have been used as tools for social change, such as: BREAKING THE SILENCE, about commercially sexually exploited youth was used to raise awareness and legal aid, and FARM SANCTUARY, about inner city youth visiting rescued farm animals was made to expose animal cruelty.

Trish’s production company, LUCKY CAT PICTURES specializes in personal story, social impact videos for corporations, non-profits, and governments, garnering such notable clients as Capital One Spark, Conde Naste, Pepsi, Nike, illy, Cole Haan, Microsoft, Kashi, The Global Ocean Commission, and the Presidency of Senegal.


As director of Found Object Films, Gabriel London conceives of and directs content and strategy for companies and nonprofits looking to create a public impact. Working with clients such as Timberland (Kombit: The Cooperative, 2015), Clinton Global Initiative and the UN Foundation, Gabriel’s films have driven storytelling campaigns for innovative social impact models and major policy issues in global development.

As an independent documentary filmmaker, Gabriel’s focus has been on bringing overlooked stories to an international audience, dealing with issues ranging from prison conditions to climate change. In 2004, Gabriel produced Drew Barrymore’s MTV documentary about youth voting, The Best Place to Start, and in 2008, he directed Snoop Dogg’s autobiographical streets-to-prison story, Youth Authority: California for Spike TV. In 2014, Gabriel’s multi-awarding documentary, The Mind of Mark DeFriest, received wide acclaim at film festivals such as DocNYC, HotDocs and LA Film Fest, and went on to help reduce the title character’s prison sentence by over 70 years, before being shown on Showtime.

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May 4, 2018 at 10:00 am
May 6, 2018 at 5:00 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States

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