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Jun 23, 2018 at 11:00 am

Documentary Fundamentals: Financing

With Lana Wilson, Maxyne Franklin, Kelsey Koenig, José F. Rodriguez, and Jeff Seelbach

This session of DOCUMENTARY FUNDAMENTALS is about financing your next documentary. This session will address the eternal question: how to finance your doc? What are the pros and cons of different fundraising options, such as grants, equity investment, pre-sales, and crowdsourcing? Budgeting, how to find and successfully apply for grants, tips and tools for crowdfunding, and alternate routes to resources will be discussed in this can’t-miss session.


Maxyne Franklin is one of the founding directors of BRITDOC and is primarily responsible for the organisations film slate and the annual Impact Award. Recent films she is fortunate enough to work on include BAFTA and Oscar nominee Virunga and the poetic love story The Possibilities are Endless.

Kelsey Koenig is the Director of Development at Impact Partners, a New York-based documentary film fund dedicated to supporting powerful films that address pressing social issues. As Director of Development, Kelsey researches and reviews potential projects to finance, oversees the open rolling submissions process, manages IP’s web presence, and represents Impact Partners at festivals and markets around the world.

José F. Rodriguez is the Director of Documentary Programs at Tribeca Film Institute, where he oversees the growth and funding for all of the documentary programs and leads documentary workshops in the US as well as throughout Latin America. A native of Puerto Rico, he grew up with a passion for movies that led him to New York City, where he became a script/book reader for a production company and worked on commercials, short films and features. He wrote and directed a fiction short (DEAD-END, screened in 2016), and is currently on the festival circuit with his documentary short Adolescencia (2017).

Jeff Seelbach is a creative executive and Emmy-nominated producer focused on the intersection of rigorous journalism, artful documentary storytelling, and emerging digital platforms. For First Look Media and Topic Studios, Jeff oversees projects for film, TV, and digital, including Nobody Speak (Netflix), directed by Brian Knappenberger; XY Chelsea (Showtime), directed by Tim Travers Hawkins, with EP Laura Poitras; and The Blue Wall (forthcoming), directed by Rick Rowley.

Jeff helped to launch AJ+, the innovative digital channel from Al Jazeera, where he supervised the commissioning and production of short documentaries for Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. He spent four years working on the PBS international documentary series Wide Angle, including projects about gangs in El Salvador, Shia Islam in Iran, and oil politics in West Africa. Jeff graduated from Northwestern University with majors in Film and Political Science, where he was also a Music Director at WNUR-FM, the largest student-run radio station in the U.S.

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 PostThe 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.

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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.

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Jun 23, 2018
11:00 am – 1:00 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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