Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

Jan 11, 2019 at 10:00 am – Jan 13, 2019 at 5:00 pm

Speaking Truth to Power: A Workshop on Investigative Documentary

With lead instructor Hilke Schellmann

This workshop is SOLD OUT.

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

We live in a challenging and important time to be an investigative journalist. The very basics of journalism – the search for facts and accuracy – are being questioned, and the need is palpable for investigative journalists and for the press to hold those in power accountable.

This weekend intensive explores the impact of investigative documentaries in all visual genres: feature docs and shorts, illustrations and new forms of storytelling like explainer videos and animation. A small group of participants (15 people max) will learn the elements of investigative reporting: how to spot and report impactful stories that are hiding in plain sight; how to use social media to find and report investigative stories; and how to background and triangulate people using simple online tools.

Led by Emmy-award winning investigative journalist Hilke Schellmann (VICE, Frontline, NYU Journalism, The Wall Street Journal) this seminar brings together several guest speakers, thinkers and practitioners from different backgrounds—investigative journalists, filmmakers, doc funders and commissioning editors.

Together, we will dissect investigative documentaries and learn step-by-step how these filmmakers report stories, conduct accountability interviews and make visually compelling documentaries. The course will also cover how to corroborate and fact-check stories, get funding for your investigative docs and show how new forms of visual storytelling have given investigative journalism new life. Participants are encouraged, but not required, to have an in-progress project and/or pitch to present for feedback.


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for filmmakers, film producers, journalists, curators 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).

$300 early bird registration by December 21st, 2018 at 5PM; $285 for members.

$350 regular registration; $335 for members.

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

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.

To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash. After the early bird registration deadline, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines 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, Jan 11

PM: Introductions and Presentation by Steve Maing

Saturday, Jan 12

AM: Derek Kravitz
PM: Lindsay Crouse

Sunday, Jan 13

AM: Hilke Schellmann
PM: Judith Helfand

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


Warm up with introductory questions + viewing exercises


Presentation by guest speaker + discussion


Lunch (on your own)


Presentation by guest speaker + discussion


Discussion + sharing of work


Wrap up with closing questions


Hilke Schellmann is an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker and assistant professor of journalism at NYU’s Carter Institute. She most recently worked as a producer for VICE’s Emmy-award winning HBO series. Hilke also produced, shot and directed the documentary Outlawed in Pakistan. The film was dubbed “among the standouts” at the Sundance Film Festival by The L.A. Times and called “extraordinary” by Variety. Outlawed in Pakistan aired on PBS FRONTLINE and won an Emmy Award among many others.

Hilke’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Glamour, ARD, ZDF, TIME and The Atlantic as well as on WYNC. From 2009 to 2012, she spearheaded video coverage as a Multimedia Reporter for the New York section at The Wall Street Journal.

Hilke is a Fulbright scholar and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She also received a master’s degree in Cultural Studies and Political Science from the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. She is one of the co-founders of the the non-profit Center for Documentary Art UnionDocs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Lindsay Crouse is the Coordinating Producer for the New York Times Op-Docs series. Since joining Op-Docs in 2011, she has worked on more than 260 short films, VR, and interactive documentaries that won two Emmy Awards, two Peabodys, and two Oscar nominations for best short documentary.

Judith Helfand is best known for her ability to take the dark worlds of chemical exposure, heedless corporate behavior and environmental injustice and make them personal, highly-charged and entertaining. Three of her films premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, with national broadcasts on PBS (POV), HBO and The Sundance Channel. In addition to THE UPRISING OF ’34 (co-directed with George Stoney), her films include the Sundance award-winning and 2X Emmy nominated film BLUE VINYL (co-directed with Daniel B. Gold and co-produced with Julie Parker Benello) and its Peabody Award-winning nominated prequel A HEALTHY BABY GIRL, as well as EVERYTHING’S COOL, also co-directed with Gold.

A committed field-builder and educator, Helfand co-founded Working Films, one of the nation’s first non-profits dedicated to engagement in 2009, and Chicken & Egg Pictures, a non-profit film fund dedicated to supporting women documentary directors with strategic grants and creative mentorship in 2005. In her Chicken & Egg Pictures role, where she served as Creative Director for a decade, Helfand was Producer on the Oscar-nominated, Dupont winning short, THE BARBER OF BIRMINGHAM, and Executive Producer for the award-winning films BROOKLYN CASTLE, SEMPER FI: ALWAYS FAITHFUL, PRIVATE VIOLENCE and HOT GIRLS WANTED. In 2007 a Rockefeller Media Fellowship and a United States Artist Fellowship, one of 50 awarded annually to “America’s finest living artists.” Along with LOVE & STUFF, Helfand is deep in post-production on COOKED, a film about the politics of disaster, extreme weather and survival by zip code, set for completion and launch in 2017, and slated for broadcast on Independent Lens. She lives on the UWS with her toddler daughter Theodora.

Derek Kravitz is the research editor at ProPublica. Previously, he was a reporter and editor for the Greater New York section of The Wall Street Journal; a national economics writer for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C.; a local government and transportation staff writer at The Washington Post; and a crime reporter at the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri.

Kravitz was also a postgraduate research scholar at Columbia University, and was a co-author of the journalism school’s independent review of Rolling Stone magazine’s now-retracted campus-rape story. He graduated with a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri and master’s degrees in international relations and journalism from Columbia University. He teaches investigative reporting at Columbia’s Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

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.

+ Register


The numbers below include tickets for this event already in your cart. Clicking "Get Tickets" will allow you to edit any existing attendee information as well as change ticket quantities.
Tickets are no longer available


Jan 11, 2019 at 10:00 am
Jan 13, 2019 at 5:00 pm
$285.00 – $350.00


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States

Support UnionDocs’ next phase and new building by becoming a member

Peek in the window of our bustling building in NYC and tune into the ideas and energy bubbling up from the UNDO Center.

Tune into cutting-edge, powerful and poetic documentary programs and connect to conversations with the artists and thinkers passing through.

Now available at the Apple Store.



Unlimited access to all of our monthly offerings for the price of two espressos.



Keep it simple and save. Unlimited access to our sweet offerings for a reduced, annual fee and receive some added benefits.



In the neighborhood, a working artist, student or senior? This membership is for you. Fill out a quick form for a discount code to an annual membership.



Get all of the benefits of the Annual UNDO Membership plus an annual subscription to UnionDocs Editions, a set of publications, merchandise or special objects.

UnionDocs is grateful for support from:

UnionDocs is hiring. 

Join the UnionDocs team.

Pod Pod 2023 Group 02

Pod Pod is now accepting applications.
Apply today!

Calling all AUDIO MAKERS looking for a bit of motivation, peer support, collective production and a dose of inspiration for your personal project —  join us for 3 months this Fall!