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Jun 28, 2024 at 7:00 pm – Jun 30, 2024 at 6:00 pm

Documentary Fundamentals 2024

Today’s documentary landscape is rapidly evolving with new avenues and pitfalls around every corner. DOC FUNDAMENTALS, our annual six session professional development series, responds each year to the changes we see in the field and is geared towards preparing emerging and mid-career independent filmmakers with all the foundational knowledge they need to complete a feature documentary. We’re ecstatic that this year’s Documentary Fundamentals course is led by Marley McDonald and Brian Becker, co-directors of the incredible all-archival documentary Time Bomb Y2K that was called “a sleek, lean film that never falters” by Forbe It’s so exciting that much of Time Bomb Y2Ks team will join us for this weekend in June!  You’re invited to follow along and trace the trajectory of one of this recent documentary hits all the way from its pre-production and planning stages to post-production and through its spectacular distribution.

Time Bomb Y2K will serve as a case-study across all the sessions including PITCHING, ARCHIVAL, EDITING, MUSIC/GFX and RELEASING your documentary. Each session features a range of exciting, advanced and award-winning professionals from the field and many from this film who represent all aspects of producing a documentary feature. It is perfect as a primer or a way to refocus and rethink your project in today’s changing landscape! You can attend all sessions with a SERIES PASS or just tackle the hurdles where you need help with a single session.


$175.00Add to cart

The full series pass includes access to all of the 2024 Documentary Fundamentals sessions listed below and the public screening of Time Bomb Y2K. You can also tailor your Doc Fundamentals attendance to your personal needs and select each course a la carte for $35/session.

About Time Bomb Y2K

As the year 2000 approached, rumblings started to spread outside of the world of computer engineers and into the mainstream consciousness about a ubiquitous glitch in computer code that meant when the year turned from “1999” to “2000,” all computers would reset to “1900” and the world’s systems would malfunction, grinding to a halt. In a fully archival tour de force, co-directors Brian Becker and Marley McDonald document the countdown to Y2K against the backdrop of the mass hysteria that infiltrated everything from politics to pop culture. Doomsday prepper communities started to proliferate and businesses popped up with products, books, and any way to make a quick buck off the looming disaster. Time Bomb Y2K is a wild ride through the final days of the ’90s and a compelling portrait of a turning point in the digital revolution.

About Doc Fundamentals

UnionDocs has developed this ongoing program for documentarians, after receiving countless requests from folks who desire a better foundation for navigating the modern landscape of independent filmmaking and has received feedback that this course does the trick! Each year we select an array of guests that represent the best of the field with contemporary approaches to navigating with best practices.

Reflections from past participants of Doc Fundamentals:

“Overall a great balance between breadth & depth; I feel very encouraged & equipped with the basic knowledge of how turn my projects into more serious endeavors.”

“The focus of the sessions on brass tacks issues like funding, logistics, legal & business matters, organizing production flow, and how to find & work with collaborators was excellent; it’s the most helpful information that can be shared in such a relatively limited amount of time & it conveys a trust in session participants that they will find their own way through”

“I really enjoyed the concept of breaking a single documentary down over several focus points. Looking forward to future courses! Thank you!”


Day 1: Friday, June 28

How it Started

Time Bomb Y2K Screening

Day 2: Saturday, June 29

11am EST – Pitching and Financing
with Penny Lane and Gabriel Sedgwick

2pm EST – Archival
with Peter Nauffts and Rich Remsberg

4pm EST – Editing
with Katyann Gonzalez and David Teague

Day 3: Sunday, June 30

2pm EST – Music / GFX
with Nathan Micay, Cole Kush, and Tom Goulet 

4pm EST – Releasing
with Chloe Trayner 


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Marley McDonald is a filmmaker, animator, and painter living in Queens, New York. In 2021, she was chosen as a Points North Fellow and worked as an additional editor on Penny Lane’s film Listening to Kenny G. Her associate editor work includes Spaceship Earth, and the Golden Lion-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. She most recently directed and edited her debut feature, Time Bomb Y2K (co-directed with Brian Becker) for HBO.

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Brian Becker is a New York-based filmmaker who directed and produced Time Bomb Y2K (co-directed with Marley McDonald), which premiered on HBO in December, 2023. The film’s festival run included True/False Film Festival, Hot Docs, Sheffield DocFest, IDFA, Camden International Film Festival, and DocNYC. Brian served as archival producer on Free Chol Soo Lee, MLK/FBI, and Spaceship Earth, and as co-producer on the series Bobby Kennedy for President. Brian is a 2022 Doc NYC 40 Under 40 recipient, Impact Partners Producing Fellow, Points North Fellow, and a FOCAL Jane Mercer Researcher of the Year award nominee. Before turning to production, he worked as a mosquito ecologist.

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Peter Nauffts is a New York-based archival researcher and producer. In addition to Time Bomb Y2K, he has conducted archival research on films and series for Lucy Walker, Alex Gibney and Mariam Ghani. He is currently working on a documentary about Sun Ra for Firelight Films.

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Rich Remsberg is a two-time Emmy Award-winning archival producer with more than twenty years of experience in documentary films and series. Working with directors such as Lawrence Kasdan, Ben Stiller, Penny Lane, Amir Bar-Lev, Marshall Curry, Eugene Jarecki, Jesse Moss, and Dawn Porter, Remsberg specializes in creating fresh storylines and finding rare and unseen footage to support them.

His credits for HBO, Netflix, Disney+, NatGeo, History, and PBS include Light & Magic, Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, Bobby Kennedy for President, Happy Valley, and the Academy Award-nominated A Night at the Garden.

Remsberg has served on the faculties of the Maine Media Workshops and the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center Field School; was a frequent collaborator with the sampling-based music duo The Books; and has been a contributor to Vice Magazine, Esopus, and NPR’s online feature The Picture Show.

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Maya Mumma, ACE, was an editor on the Academy Award winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America” for which she was honored with a Best Editing award from the LA Film Critics Association, an ACE Eddie, and a Primetime Emmy. She began her career in the edit room of the Academy Award nominated documentary “Restrepo”, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. She has gone on to edit such films as “Which Way Is the Front Line From Here”, “Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley”, the Peabody Award winning “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown”, the Emmy winning “King in the Wilderness”, the Emmy and Peabody Award winning “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality”, the three-part “Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union”, and most recently “Time Bomb Y2K”. She has mentored for the Firelight Media Documentary Lab, the Open City Documentary Festival Assembly Lab, the TFI/A&E IndieFilms StoryLab, the Sundance Art of Editing Fellowship, and the Chicken & Egg Pictures (Egg)celerator Lab. She is the current president of the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship.

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Gabriel Sedgwick hails from the grim and frostbitten kingdom of Sweden but lives in New York City, where he has produced both fiction and documentary films that have screened at festivals including Sundance, Toronto Int’l Film Festival, SXSW, Rotterdam, Full Frame, and New Directors/New Films. His productions include director Penny Lane’s documentaries Hail Satan? (Magnolia Pictures) and Listening to Kenny G (HBO) and Lanre Olabisi’s fiction features August the First and Somewhere in the Middle (Film Movement), as well as executive producing Brian Becker and Marley McDonald’s Time Bomb Y2K (HBO). On the shorts side, he produced the sea-monkey documentary Just Add Water for CNN Films, which garnered massive online popularity with eight million views and counting. He’s a Sundance Creative Producing Labs fellow, Berlinale Talent fellow, two-time Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Grantee, and enthusiastic karaoke participant.

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Katyann Gonzalez is a video editor born, bred and living in New York. Having worked in documentary post-production for the majority of her career, she recently made the jump into the narrative space on the upcoming A24 film, Death of a Unicorne. She has worked as an assistant editor on several documentaries and docuseries which had major streaming distribution (HBO, Netflix, etc.) and successful film festival runs (Sundance, True/False, Camden, Sheffield, and more.) Some of the titles include Union, Time Bomb Y2K, and Love Has Won. Katyann is also a 2024 Karen Schmeer Editing Fellow under the mentorship of Penny Falk and Toby Shimin in a cohort of 6 talented editors in NYC. She also works as a colorist for fashion films, short films, branded content, and music videos and in 2023 she color graded a feature-length documentary called Divisible.


David Teague is an Emmy-winning documentary film editor and writer. His work as an editor includes the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning Life Animated, the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning Cutie and the Boxer, the Independent Spirit-nominated The Departure, the Emmy-nominated E-Team, and the Oscar-winning Freeheld. He wrote and produced Stamped from the Beginning, shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for his work on the film. He was the supervising editor for the Sundance-winning Frida and the Emmy-nominated Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, for which he received a Cinema Eye Editing Award. As a consulting editor, he worked on Knock Down The HouseCrip CampCamerapersonWelcome to Chechnya, and Mayor. He wrote the fiction film Cassandro with director Roger Ross Williams, starring Gael García Bernal, which premiered at Sundance 2023. David has served as an editing mentor with IFP/Gotham, Firelight, Tribeca, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, the Catapult True/False Rough Cut Retreat, and the Sundance Institute.

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Penny Lane has been making award-winning, innovative nonfiction films for over a decade.  This includes six features – most recently Confessions of a Good Samaritan, premiering at SXSW 2023 – and over a dozen short films.  A 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, Lane has also received grants and awards from the Sundance Film Festival, Cinereach, Creative Capital, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Tribeca Film Institute, Wexner Center for the Arts and many others. Penny has been honored with mid-career retrospectives at the Museum of the Moving Image, San Francisco DocFest, Open City Documentary Festival and Cinema Moderne. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And yes, Penny Lane is her real name.

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Tom Goulet is a freelance director / motion graphics artist living in Los Angeles working mostly on projects in the music, commercial, and film industries. Tom graduated Ithaca College in 2016 and worked for 4 years at Spikeball Inc. as their videographer/graphic designer/social media guy. Now he works full time on freelance projects directing videos, doing VFX, motion graphics, graphic design, title design, and other stuff. He does almost everything in After Effects. He loves eating cereal but just plain cereal, not sugary kinds. His two favorite cereals are Special K (Original), and Joe’s O’s, but Joe’s O’s changed their formula slightly when they moved factories in 2020 and it’s a little worse than it used to be.

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Cole Kush is a director and animator from Canada whose works tend towards the absurd, often finding the bizarre in the mundane. He has directed projects for Adult Swim, HBO, SNL, A$AP Rocky, Nike, Vice and a variety of artists to create innovative visual work. Cole founded Eternal Family, an artist-run streaming service and co-founded the creative studio Grin Machine.

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Toronto born, Berlin based artist Nathan Micay has been on quite the run these past few years. His debut EP on esteemed label AD93 (formerly Whities) in 2018 ‘First Casualtiy’ became one of the biggest hits of the dance music circuit, gaining acclaim on best of year lists from Resident Advisor, Mixmag, Dj Mag. He followed this up in 2019 with his debut album ‘Blue Spring’ on Warp Records affiliate label LuckyMe. The album became a landmark release that effortlessly brought together the sounds of trance, electronica and techno, placing them under the roof of the avant-garde. The release received wide acclaim, prominently featured on many end of year lists, this time in dance music and beyond. As a DJ, he has continued to make his mark on the international club circuit, establishing himself as sa regular at key venues such as Berghian Berlin, fabric London, Contact Tokyo and Goodroom NYC. However, in 2020 Nathan truly arrived, offering two bodies of work that nobody saw coming. His surprise second album on LuckyMe ‘The World I’m Going to Hell For’ was released in May 2020. It was created entirely with his string instruments and limited electonics. Pitchfork called it “Uniquely powerful” and it offered fans and listeners alike a new window into Nathan’s growing artistic vision. The album expanded on his cinematic sound and perfectly positioned for the natural move into scoring. He spent the first six months of 2020 working on his biggest project yet: a full symphonic hybrid score for the new HBO series Industry. The three hours of score in the series received acclaim from The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Independent among other leading publications. He has followed this up with scores for HBO’s Reality, HBO’s TimeBomb: Y2K and other scoring projects for studios such as Netflix and Paramount. 

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Dara Messinger is the longtime Director of Programming at DCTV where she has overseen many of the honored organization’s public programs. Her work as curator continues and deepens as she now programs its new Firehouse: DCTV’s Cinema for Documentary Film. She is also a filmmaker, member of Meerkat Media Collective since 2008, and a 2022 DOC NYC Documentary New Leader.


Chloe Trayner is a freelance film and events programmer with a specialism in non-fiction cinema and talent development. Chloe is the Founder of Assembly Documentary Development Lab and has worked with organisations such as Bertha DocHouse, BFI Future Film Festival, The Guardian, Wellcome Trust and UnderWire Festival. She was Festival Director of Open City Documentary Festival from 2018 – 2020 as well as the co-director of Overnight Film Festival. She is based in London.

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Full Series Pass
Full Series Pass for Documentary Fundamentals
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Jun 28, 2024 at 7:00 pm
Jun 30, 2024 at 6:00 pm


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Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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