Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

Apr 7, 2017 at 10:00 am – Apr 9, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Speaking Truth to Power – A Workshop Dedicated to Investigative Docs

With Hilke Schellmann, Azmat Khan, Lindsay Crouse, Maxyne Franklin and Cezary Podkul

This workshop is SOLD OUT. Please sign up for the waitlist below to receive updates regarding any openings or similar future opportunities.

There has never been a more challenging, a more interesting and a more important time to be an investigative journalist than today. The media is under attack: we now live in a time where the very basics of journalism – the search for facts and accuracy – is questioned. In these turbulent times, there has never been a greater need for investigative journalism and for the press as a watchdog holding government and the powerful accountable.

This weekend intensive explores the power of investigative documentaries in all visual genres: feature docs and short, illustrations and new forms of storytelling like motion graphics and VR/360. Participants, a small group of 15 people (max), will learn from these top leaders of the film and media industries and receive direct feedback to their questions and personal projects. The workshop will culminate in a pitching session with Lindsay Crouse, Coordinating Producer for the New York Times Op-Docs series.

Led by Emmy-award winning investigative journalist Hilke Schellmann (VICE, Frontline, Columbia Journalism School) this seminar brings together several guest speakers, thinkers and practitioners from different backgrounds—investigative journalists, filmmakers, doc funders and commissioning editors. During the weekend intensive you will learn how to do investigative reporting: how to spot and report impactful stories that are hiding in plain sight with Cezary Podkul from ProPublica. Azmat Khan, former investigative reporter at Buzzfeed, will teach us how to use social media to find and report investigative stories and how to background and triangulate people using simple online tools.

Participants will dissect investigative documentaries with the filmmakers and learn step-by-step how they report the stories, conduct accountability interviews and make visually compelling documentary. 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 like VR/360 and illustrations have given investigative journalism new life. Over the course of the weekend, participants will have ample time to workshop pitches and present visual material to our guests.

Every participant will have a chance to pitch an investigative story idea to a funder or to Lindsay Crouse, New York Times Op-Docs Coordinating Producer.

Requirement: if you want to pitch to commissioning editors and funders, you need to submit an informal written pitch a week before the workshop (March 31st). We will also need a photo and a short bio from every participant, since we want to give our guests a participant list before they arrive.


Who is eligible?

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).


$385 early bird registration by March 16th, 2015 at 5PM

$450 regular


Please note that the service charge is waived if payment is made via check.

Checks can be made out to UnionDocs and mailed to 322 Union Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211.

Participants coming from outside NYC are responsible for their own transportation and room and board during the intensive. UnionDocs can provide assistance in locating housing and guidance for getting around town for those not native to New York.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until March 16th. After March 16th, 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.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until March 16th. After March 16th, the fee is non-refundable.

This workshop is three full days; please only enroll if you can commit to the entire schedule.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Friday, April 7: 10am - 5pm

Friday: What is investigative journalism, research techniques and fact-checking

AM: Cezary Podkul (ProPublica)

PM: Azmat Khan (PBS FRONTLINE, Al Jazeera, and BuzzFeed)

Saturday, April 8: 10am - 5pm

Saturday: From reporting to Visualization

AM: Hilke Schellmann (VICE, Frontline)

PM: Maxyne Franklin (BRITDoc)

Sunday, April 9: 10am - 5pm

Sunday: Funding and Distribution

AM: Nanfu Wang (Director of Hooligan Sparrow)

PM: Lindsay Crouse (New York Times Op-Docs)

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


Azmat Khan

Azmat Khan is an investigative journalist and New America Future of War Fellow. Her reporting for PBS FRONTLINE, Al Jazeera, and BuzzFeed Investigations has been awarded the Deadline Club Award for Independent Digital Reporting; the South Asian Journalist Association’s Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting on South Asia, a Livingston Award finalist in International Reporting, an Emmy nomination in New Approaches to Documentary Film, and other honors.


Hilke Schellmann is an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker and Director of Video Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she teaches video storytelling. 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 amongst 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 230 short films, VR, and interactive documentaries that won two Emmy Awards, a Peabody, and an Oscar nomination for best short documentary.

Maxyne Franklin

Maxyne Franklin is one of the founding Directors of BRITDOC and shares responsibility for overseeing the film funding programmes. She also sits on the selection committee for the Good Pitch events and oversees the annual DOC Impact Awards; celebrating the films that have made the greatest impact on society. For BRITDOC, Maxyne has been lucky enough to executive produce a number of award-winning films including Virunga, All These Sleepless Nights, Hooligan Sparrow, The Possibilities are Endless, The Square, Pussy Riot, Hell & Back Again, Ping Pong and Afghan Star.


Cezary Podkul is a reporter at ProPublica covering New York. Previously, he worked as a reporter at Reuters specializing in data-driven news stories. His work with Carrick Mollenkamp for Reuters’s “Uneasy Money” series was a finalist for the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. He has covered energy and commodities and the private equity industry, among other beats, after leaving investment banking in 2008 to pursue journalism. Since July 2015, he has spearheaded ProPublica’s reporting on state and local New York City issues, including regulators’ failure to enforce rent laws.

Cezary earned a B.S. in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006 and is a 2011 alumnus of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, where he won the Melvin Mencher Prize for Superior Reporting. He is fluent in Polish.



Nanfu Wang is a filmmaker based in New York City. Originally from a remote village in China, Wang overcame poverty and lack of access to formal secondary education. Her work often features the stories of marginalized or mistreated people. From Chinese blood donors stricken with HIV from used government-issued needles to the left-behind children of migrant laborers, Wang’s short films have been distributed on many platforms and translated into several languages. Wang is a recipient of a Sundance postproduction grant, Bertha Britdoc Journalism Fund, a Sundance Documentary Fellow, and an IFP supported filmmaker. Her feature debut Hooligan Sparrow has so far received support from Sundance Institute, IFP, IDA, and BRITDOC. Nanfu Wang holds three master’s degrees from Shanghai University, Ohio University, and New York University in English Literature, Media Studies, and Documentary respectively.

Who's Attending

16 people are attending Speaking Truth to Power – A Workshop Dedicated to Investigative Docs

  • Rossella Laeng
  • Patrick Offenheiser
  • Ty Flowers
  • Matthew Amaral
  • Martyna Starosta
  • Nottapon Boonprakob
  • zara meerza
  • ginac Kim
  • Jagmeet Mac
  • Rajan Zaveri
  • Daniel Montoya
  • Ginger Gentile
  • Annie Kaempfer
  • Guitty Caroline BOLOUR
  • Romina Mella
+ 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


Apr 7, 2017 at 10:00 am
Apr 9, 2017 at 5:00 pm
$385.00 – $450.00


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!