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Feb 20, 2016 at 10:00 am – Feb 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Documentary Fundraising: The Art of Asking

With Adella Ladjevardi, Lana Wilson, Tracie Holder and Anna Rose Holmer

Draw a successful financial plan for your film!

A workshop dedicated to documentary fundraising

Raising money for an independent documentary film is a daunting task and a long process. What resources are available to you, and how do you create a road map to secure the financing you need? What are the building blocks for a successful project proposal, and how do you make your film stand out from the thousands of other documentaries seeking support every year?  

Writing a fundraising proposal before your film is made is certainly a challenge, as you never know where the story is going to end up until you start shooting and editing. This weekend workshop is geared to supporting documentary filmmakers with projects in all stages of production, including development, production and post-production. The workshop is exercise-heavy and takes a “learning through doing” approach. We will spend two days reviewing the basic pillars of documentary fundraising, including grant writing, crowdfunding and individual donations/investments. You will learn to assess, clarify and articulate the building blocks of your proposal, including understanding your audience, demonstrating access to your characters, crafting a realistic budget, articulating the themes and visual approach of your film, discussing and critiquing what makes compelling sample work/footage and learning how to craft a crowdfunding and social media campaign.

The goals of the workshops are two-fold: to create a robust understanding of the fundraising landscape for independent documentaries as well as prepare you to assemble the best possible proposal as you approach potential funders. Participants will hear from three successful filmmakers & producers who will speak from experience, and students will be encouraged to put this new knowledge into practice. Producer and Programmer Adella Ladjevardi will lead the workshop. Guest speakers include Lana Wilson, Tracie Holder and Anna Rose Holmer.


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).

$350 early bird registration by November 14th, 2016 at 5PM.

$400 regular registration.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until November 14th. After November 14th, 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 PayPal. After the early bird registration deadline of November 14th, 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.


Saturday, Feb 20: 10am - 5pm


10:00am – 10:30am: Overview of workshop + short introductions by students

10:30am – 12:30pm: Presentation by Lana Wilson (Focus: Individual Donations + Crowdfunding) + student discussion

12:30pm – 1:00pm: Writing exercise for students

1:00pm2:00pm: Lunch (on your own)

2:00pm – 4:00pm Presentation by Anna Rose Holmer (Focus: Grantwriting + fundraising trailers) + student discussion

4:00pm – 4:30pm: Writing exercise for students

4:30pm – 5:00pm: Case study

Sunday, Feb 21: 10am - 5pm

Day 2 – SUNDAY

10:00am – 10:30am: Overview of workshop

10:30am – 12:30pm: Presentation by Tracie Holder (Focus: road map for grants +budget) + student discussion

12:30pm – 1:00pm: Writing exercise for students

1:00pm2:00pm: Lunch (on your own)

2:00pm – 4:00pm: Presentation by Adella Ladjevardi (Focus: Financial plan & Grant Evaluations) + student discussion

4:00pm – 4:30pm: Writing exercise for students

4:30pm – 5:00pm: Case study

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



Adella Ladjevardi is an independent producer and film industry professional with over 13 years of experience working in all aspects of the industry. She is currently producing a short documentary called Just a Dog by Andrea B. Scott and a feature documentary called U.G. by Matthew Dougherty. She is the co-producer of the fiction feature Icaros: a vision by Leonor Caraballo & Matteo Norzi, which was selected for the 2015 IFP Narrative Labs and is currently in post-prod. Previously, Adella was head of the Cinereach Grants Program (2009-2014), supporting the development, production, and distribution of dozens of award-winning films and, more recently, consulted as a screener and programmer at the Tribeca and Los Angeles Film Festivals. She has served as a reviewer on documentary funding panels including the PBS series P.O.V, ITVS Open Call, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Catapult Film Fund, and IDFA Forum and has also served on the juries of the DocNYC and SilverDocs (now AFI Docs) Film Festivals. She began her career working for documentary distributor Icarus Films, before moving on to work at Zohe films for filmmaker Jennifer Fox, where she was the Assoc Producer of Fox’s documentary feature My Reincarnation (Broadcast on POV 2012 & nominated for an Emmy 2013) as well as Fox’s documentary mini-series Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman (Broadcast on Sundance Channel and BBC Storyville 2008). Adella was also the Assoc Producer of Anne Aghion’s documentary feature My Neighbor, My Killer (Premiered at Cannes 2009 & nominated for a Gotham Award 2009). She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.


Emmy-Award winning filmmaker Lana Wilson is a New York-based writer, director, and producer. Her feature documentary After Tiller went inside the lives of the four most-targeted abortion providers in the country, and was critically acclaimed for providing a moving and complex look at one of the most incendiary issues of our time. After Tiller premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013, and went on to be picked up for distribution by Oscilloscope Laboratories, which released the film theatrically in 50 US cities. After Tiller was nationally broadcast on the PBS documentary series POV, and recently won the 2015 News and Documentary Emmy Award for Best Documentary.

After Tiller was also nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary, four Cinema Eye Honors, a Satellite Award, and the Ridenhour Prize. It was named one of the five best documentaries of the year by the National Board of Review, and featured in “Best of 2013” lists in the LA Times, Village Voice, Indiewire, Artforum, and more. Flavorwire recently named it one of the “50 Best Documentaries of All Time.” It has played at over 100 festivals around the world, where it won awards including the Human Rights Award at the Full Frame Documentary Festival and the Grand Prize at the Sarasota Film Festival.

Wilson’s new film, Last Call, currently in post-production, tells the story of a remarkable Zen priest doing suicide prevention work in Japan. It is being executive produced by Lilly Hartley (The Queen of Versailles) and Mike Lerner (The Square), shot by Emily Topper (After Tiller), and edited by David Teague (Cutie and the Boxer). Wilson is also writing an episode of the forthcoming National Geographic miniseries Story of Vice, directed by Matt Wolf. Wilson was previously the Film and Dance Curator at Performa, the New York biennial of new visual art performance. She holds a BA in Film Studies and Dance from Wesleyan University, where she graduated with honors.



Feb 20, 2016 at 10:00 am
Feb 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States

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