This session of DOCUMENTARY FUNDAMENTALS is about shooting and directing your next documentary. Filmmakers produce and shoot in a wide variety of locations under many different practical, financial, technical and legal constraints. What kind of equipment do you need? Who do you need on your production team? How do you deal with emergencies during shooting and how do you pick out a camera and DP? Should I be thinking of archival material in advance?
Saturday, Jun 23 at 2:00 pm
Documentary Fundamentals: Shooting and Directing
With Lana Wilson, Stephen Maing and Emily Topper
Stephen Maing is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, cinematographer and editor based in Brooklyn. His feature documentary, High Tech, Low Life chronicled the story of two of China’s first dissident citizen-journalists fighting state-monitored censorship and was broadcast nationally on PBS’ award-winning series P.O.V. His short film, The Surrender, produced with Academy Award winner Laura Poitras, documented State Department intelligence analyst Stephen Kim’s harsh prosecution under the Espionage Act. It received a 2016 World Press Photo Award for Best Long Form Documentary and was nominated for a 2016 Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Documentary. His most recent feature Crime + Punishment, received a Special Jury Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, was filmed over four years and follows a group of minority whistleblower cops known as the NYPD12, an innocent young man stuck in Rikers and one unforgettable private investigator as they expose harmful policing practices in New York City. Stephen is a fellow of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program and recipient of the International Documentary Association’s inaugural Enterprise Investigative Journalism grant as well as a 2016 John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim Reporting Fellow. He has directed films for the New York Times, Time Magazine, The Nation, The Intercept and Field of Vision. He is co-directing a forthcoming cross-sectional film about American national identity, and teaches a summer course in documentary cinematography at Massachusetts College of Art & Design.
Emily Topper was born and raised in Baltimore, earned a BA from Swarthmore College in Literature, and an MFA from University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. A cinematographer for over fifteen years, Emily’s feature credits include the 2015 Emmy winner for Best Documentary, After Tiller, Ain’t In it For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm, 116 Cameras, The Departure, and The Most Unknown, She is currently shooting a multi-year film about the effects of climate change on mountain farmers in the Andes of Peru. “All Fall Down,” a film she made about a murder in her family, premiered at CPH:DOX in 2014.
Lana Wilson is an Emmy Award-winning and two-time Spirit Award-nominated director, writer, and producer based in New York. Her most recent film, The Departure, premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival to critical acclaim and went on to be nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. The Departure was called “A work of art” by the San Francisco Chronicle, “Moving…like a haiku” by The New York Times, and “A genuinely spiritual experience” by The Washington Post. The Departure was theatrically released in 30 US cities last fall, starting with a held-over run at New York’s Metrograph, and nationally broadcast on PBS this year. Wilson’s first film, After Tiller (co-directed by Martha Shane), premiered at Sundance in 2013 and went on to win an Emmy Award for Best Documentary. It was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, four Cinema Eye Honors, and the Ridenhour Prize. After Tiller was theatrically released in 50 US cities by Oscilloscope and nationally broadcast on POV. Wilson has also worked as a writer and producer for television. She is a 2018 Women at Sundance Fellow, has been a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute, and holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University.
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 a 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.