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Apr 3, 2020 at 10:00 am – Apr 6, 2020 at 2:30 pm

Radical Appropriations: Rewriting the Archive

Led by Paul Dallas

Please note: Due to COVID-19, UnionDocs workshops are being held remotely, over video conference.

We’ve restructured the experience to optimize this format, offering a functional rhythm and pace, while continuing the strong combination of theory, practice, expert feedback and community that participants love.

Appropriation is the lingua franca of the information age. We are constantly made aware today that we are swimming in a sea of pre-existing content, most of which we experience through layers of mediation. Search engines and hyperlinks allow for instant deep dives into cultural backwaters and revealing hidden histories, while social media lets us click on anything at all and add it to our own “story.” The once radical approaches of readymades and remixes have become mainstream. For artists and filmmakers, navigating a landscape shaped equally by endless potential and perpetual content fatigue can be challenging. For those working with and from archival material, the question is how to develop approaches that do more than offer commentary. How do we use archival to actively challenge pre-existing narratives and to disrupt viewing habits? How do we make archival say things it wasn’t designed to say?

Radical Appropriations: Rewriting The Archive, examines the numerous and varied frameworks conceived by contemporary artists and filmmakers working across a range of nonfiction practices. Led by archival producer Paul Dallas (Producer, Halston), the workshop features guest instructors Alexandra Dean (Director, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story), James N. Kienitz Wilkins (Director, The Andre Trilogy), Sierra Pettengill (Producer, Cutie and The Boxer; The Reagan Show), Frederic Tcheng (Dior and I; Halston) and Tyler H. Walk (Editor, How to Survive a Plague;The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson). Participants will delve into what it means to reconfigure and re-contextualize pre-existing material with the aim of rewriting the archive. 

We will explore how creative approaches blend the personal and the political, and engage a larger process of challenging received cultural and historical norms. We will examine what it means to use pre-existing material from a range of sources including private collections, public institutions, corporate networks, stock footage libraries, YouTube, and social media. Through the lenses of writing, directing, producing, and editing, participants will delve into how appropriated material can be retooled through imaginative narration, sound/image relationships, and blurring the lines between fact and fiction. 


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).

$295 early bird registration by March 19, 2020 at 5PM.

$350 regular registration.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until March 30th. After March 30th, the fee is non-refundable.

This workshop will be taught entirely online. Please have access to a computer that will be able to download and run Zoom.us. 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 of March 30th, 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, April 3rd – 10:00am - 2:30pm

Intro & Welcome by Paul Dallas

AM: Presentation and discussion with Paul Dallas

PM: Presentation and discussion with Sierra Pettengill

Saturday, April 4th – 10:00am - 2:30pm

AM: Presentation and discussion with Tyler H. Walk

PM: Presentation and discussion with Alexandra Dean

Sunday, April 5th – 10:00am - 2:30pm

AM: Presentation and discussion with James N. Kienitz Wilkins 

Monday, April 6th – 10:00am - 2:30pm

AM: Presentation and discussion with Frederic Tcheng

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


Paul Dallas is a creative producer based in Brooklyn. He was Producer and Archival Producer on the biographical documentary Halston (Sundance and Tribeca 2019), executive produced by CNN Films and directed by Frederic Tcheng. He served as Supervising Producer and Archival Producer on the forthcoming Paris Hilton documentary This Is Paris directed by Alexandra Dean for YouTube Originals. He also produced the acclaimed comedy/drama The Plagiarists (Berlin 2019, ND/NF 2019), a NYTimes Critics Pick and winner of Best Screenplay at Tacoma FF. As a writer and journalist, he has contributed to Artforum, BOMB, Brooklyn Magazine, Cinema Scope, Filmmaker Magazine, Indiewire, Interview, and the Village Voice. He has organized film series for Columbia University, the Guggenheim Museum, Maysles Cinema, and Van Alen. He is a graduate of the Cooper Union School of Architecture.

Alexandra Dean is an Emmy award-winning documentary and news producer. She spent five years producing for the investigative news-magazine show “NOW on PBS,” where she covered the housing crisis, the student loan crisis, human rights abuses and environmental issues. Following PBS she became a series and documentary producer at Bloomberg television. She co-created the long running Bloomberg series Innovators. Her Bloomberg documentary, The Player, an investigation of the gambling industry, received a New York Press Club Award and was described as a “breakout” by the channel and received 4 times Bloomberg’s usual viewership. In 2014 she founded Reframed Pictures in partnership with filmmaker Adam Haggiag and the actress Susan Sarandon. Dean is the writer, director, and co-producer of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017) a feature documentary for American Masters about the actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University, and received her Masters in Journalism at the Columbia Journalism School.

Sierra Pettengill is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and archivist. Town Hall, her feature-length documentary, broadcast nationally on PBS in 2014. She is the producer of the Academy Award-nominated documentary Cutie and the Boxer, which also won the directing award at the Sundance Film Festival 2013 and a 2015 News and Doc Emmy. Most recently, she was the archivist on Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger (Cannes ’16), Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women (New York Film Festival ’16), and Robert Greene’s Kate Plays Christine (Sundance ’16) amongst many others. Most recently she co-directed and produced the all-archival documentary The Reagan Show (Tribeca Film Festival ’16).

Frédéric Tcheng is a French-born filmmaker. He co-produced and co-edited 2009’s Valentino: The Last Emperor, which was shortlisted for the Best Documentary Oscar. He is the co-director of Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, and Dior and I, his award-winning directorial debut, which premiered at the Tribeca film festival in 2014. His most recent film, the documentary Halston, premiered at the the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Tyler H. Walk is a Cinema Eye award winning and Emmy-nominated editor whose most recent projects include Michael Moore’s WHERE TO INVADE NEXT, David France’s Oscar-nominated documentary HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, Sara Taksler’s TICKLING GIANTS, and Eric Weinrib’s ROSEANNE FOR PRESIDENT!

James N. Kienitz Wilkins is a filmmaker and artist based in Brooklyn, New York, known for The Plagiarists (2019), Special Features (2014) and B-ROLL with Andre (2016). His work has been screened at many international film festivals and venues, including New York, Toronto, Locarno, CPH:DOX and MoMA PS1. In 2017, he was included in the Whitney Biennial and a retrospective of his work was showcased at RIDM (Montreal). In 2018, he opened solo show at Gasworks Gallery (London), and was included in the Biennial of Moving Images (Geneva).

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Apr 3, 2020 at 10:00 am
Apr 6, 2020 at 2:30 pm
$335.00 – $350.00


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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