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Oct 18, 2019 at 10:00 am – Oct 20, 2019 at 5:30 pm

Threading Episodes: The Intricacies of Serialized Documentary Podcasts

Led by Tally Abecassis

Threading a story incrementally across episodes allows for a depth of storytelling that can feel luxurious, but often it can be hard to know where to start. Longitudinal storytelling requires a different approach for unraveling the textures and details necessary to keep an audience engaged over time. Many audio producers are well trained in know-how to make excellent short-form or a single deep-dive piece but have not yet tackled a doc series, which are ever-growing in popularity. Serialized work presents its own set of unique challenges, like sifting through the mountains of tape gathered or knowing how to craft subplots interspersed along the arc of the main arc of a series.

Join UnionDocs and podcast producer Tally Abecassis (First Day Back) for a three-day workshop particularly designed for mid-career audio producers experienced in short-form work or single deep-dive pieces, who want to make the leap into a serialized documentary project.

They will be shepherded through the process by seasoned producers and editors: (Marc George (Editor for The Daily, Producer for First Day Back), Emmanuel Dzotsi (Producer Reply All, Serial), Lu Olkowski (Producer Cargoland, Love Me), Courtney Harrell (Associate Producer, Running from COPS), and Peter Bresnan (Development Producer for Gimlet Media).

Topics will range from finding key subjects that can sustain a series, to how to make sure your subject understands the scope of the project, the nuts and bolts of organizing your tape, how to best use transcripts, working with several story arcs, and keeping in tune with your material over the long haul.

Serialized documentaries are not limited to investigative reports, narrative stories, personal essays, and audio portraits. We’re interested in stories that innovate, inform, and inspire; we’re interested in stories that haven’t been told before — or are told in a new way.


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for mid-career audio producers, filmmakers, 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 an audio 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 October 11th, 2019 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 October 11th. After October 11th, 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 of October 11th, 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, Oct. 18 - 10:00 - 5:30p

Intro + Welcome with Tally Abecassis

AM: Tally Abecassis (First Day Back)

PM: Marc Georges (The Daily)

Sat, Oct. 19 – 10:00 - 5:30p

AM: Courtney Harrell (Running from COPS)

PM:  Emmanuel Dzotsi (Reply All, Serial)

Sunday, Oct. 20th 10:00 - 5:30p

AM: Peter Bresnan (Gimlet Media)

PM: Lu Olkowski (Cargoland)

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


Tally Abecassis

Tally Abecassis is a Montreal-based documentary filmmaker and podcast producer. She is the host and creator of First Day Back, the critically-acclaimed podcast about people coming back from a life-changing event, produced with EW Scripps and Stitcher. Season 3 of the show was released in January 2019. The show has been profiled in the New Yorker and put on Vulture’s list of Best Podcasts of the Year.  Tally has made documentary films that have played at festivals like SXSW, Hot Docs, and Full Frame. She has worked on TV series and webdocs and has won both a Gemini and an RTDNA award for her work. Tally was  the founder and host of the long-running live storytelling series This Really Happened that ran sold-out shows across Canada. She has been a contributor at the Huffington Post and has taught storytelling and podcast workshops for the Quebec Writer’s Federation, the INTFE Festival in Italy, and Dawson College. She is the author, with photographer Claudine Sauvé of Barbershops, a coffee table book about the disappearing temples of manhood.

Emmanuel Dzotsi

Emmanuel Dzotsi is a producer at Reply All. Before that, he produced and reported stories for WBEZ, This American Life, and Serial.

Marc Georges is an Editor for The Daily with The NYTimes. Prior to that he was a senior producer at the Scripps Washington Bureau, where he focused on narrative audio and show development for their podcast team. Marc has also produced First Day Back, a documentary podcast series for Stitcher, which was named one of the ten best podcasts of 2017 by New York Magazine and an “enduring podcast classic” by the Guardian. Marc served as a producer with BBC News, reporting and producing web, television and radio packages for BBC World News and the BBC World Service. Once upon a time, he taught English in Japan, shot and edited music videos, schlepped as a technology and healthcare consultant and somehow helped convince Mike Huckabee to appear in a comedy show in a New York City basement.

Lu Olkowski first thought of producing radio when she was working a stressful and boring job at a huge cable television channel. Often, she listened to the radio and thought, that sounds like a lot more fun, so she jumped ship. Lu produced her first radio story for Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen. It was about an artist who sent the sound of vaginal contractions into deep space to communicate with aliens. She immediately became a regular contributor. Her work has also been heard on All Things Considered, Day to Day, Radio Lab, This American Life and Weekend America. She has been honored by the American Women in Radio & Television; the international competition New York Festivals, the literary magazine The Missouri Review and the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Lu also produced, conceived and wrote the series Cargoland.

Courtney Harrell is a producer at Pineapple Street Media. Before joining Pineapple Street, Courtney was a print reporter, production assistant at Pittsburgh’s NPR affiliate, and editor of multiple podcasts, including the Longform Podcast. She has an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh.

Peter Bresnan is a Development Producer at Gimlet Media. He was the creator of the podcast series Tell Me I’m Funny, and is a graduate of the Transom Story Workshop and a Cancer sun/Cancer moon.

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Oct 18, 2019 at 10:00 am
Oct 20, 2019 at 5:30 pm
$335.00 – $350.00


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States

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