Be challenged. Get inspired. Move your project forward leaps and bounds.
Join a select group of emerging filmmakers to think through every aspect of your work-in-progress in this tightly structured program.
The UnionDocs Summer Documentary Labs are based in one of NYC’s most exciting neighborhoods, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Program Dates & Deadlines
July 4, 2022 – Aug 5, 2022
Summer Documentary Lab 1—
For Projects in Early Production
Aug 15, 2022 – Sept 2, 2022
Summer Documentary Lab 2—
For Research & Development
Jan 20, 2022
Feb 18, 2022
Early Deadline *No application fee
March 15, 2022
Final Deadline *$15 application fee
Feb 9, 2022
Information Session at 12PM
April 1, 2022
Applicant Interviews Begin
Early May 2022
Notification for invited participants & waitlist
Hear about the Summer Documentary Labs from Executive Artistic Director, Christopher Allen and our expert instructors + mentors.
Through daily screenings, seminar discussions, professional development sessions, artist visits and weekly “field trips”, our labs expose participants to a diverse set of creative documentary practices from around the world.
Drawing inspiration from across disciplines, this intensive program should not be mistaken for an industrial, journalistic, or traditional documentary training. Scholar Scott MacDonald highlighted in The New York Times that, “UnionDocs has a healthy sense that the older definitions of what constitutes ‘experimental’ cinema and what constitutes ‘documentary’ are up for grabs.” Much emphasis is placed on workshopping lab participants’ writing about their projects as a way to both clarify the creative direction and attract potential team members, funders and producers. Participants receive focused, honest and helpful feedback on their project proposals from prominent documentary artists and industry experts.
For each lab, twelve to fourteen applicants are selected on the basis of their past experience and the strength of a current documentary proposal or concept. While many filmmakers who have already completed feature projects have found the intensive useful to their next project, a previous feature in documentary is not required so long as a commitment to an independent and creative vision is demonstrated. We aim to bring together exciting international participants, and the peer interaction is a big asset to the program.
The Brooklyn Rail summed it up with the title of their feature article: “UnionDocs Brings Auteurs Together”. For some, participation in the program may lead to the development and completion of a documentary. For others, it may lead to independent projects, collaborations or strengthened careers within the industry. For all, it is an unparalleled immersion in the expansive field of documentary art.
A stronger understanding of the business and best practices of managing a documentary production.
Invited industry experts lead weekly sessions developing skills and knowledge concerning the business of documentary production, such as proposal writing, fundraising, rights management, fiscal sponsorship, and more. This curriculum was developed to offer the fundamentals that documentarians need to prepare for the planning, production, editing and release of an independent documentary. Each session will feature guest speakers sharing tips and secrets of the trade, with an emphasis on real-life case studies and best practices.
Past & Current Guest Speakers
Kelly Anderson (My Brooklyn)
Francisco Bello (War Don Don)
Alan Berliner (First Cousin Once Removed)
Angad Bhalla (Herman’s House)
Caitlin Boyle (Film Sprout)
Marcelo Bukin (Dreaming Nicaragua)
Gary Chou (Orbital)
Sarah Christman (As Above So Below)
Ramona Diaz (Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey)
Jacqueline Goss (The Observers)
Zachary Heinzerling (Cutie and the Boxer)
Tracie Holder (Women Make Movies)
Ellen Kuras (The Betrayal – Nerakhoon)
Adella Ladjevardi (Cinereach)
Penny Lane (Hail Satan!)
Peter Levin (Director/founder Splash Studios)
Marilyn Ness (Charm City)
Omar Mullick (These Birds Walk)
Terence Nance (Random Acts of Flyness)
Jenny Raskin (Impact Partners)
Emily Rothschild (Long Shot Factory)
Lana Wilson (The Departure)
Martha Shane (After Tiller)
Merrill Sterritt (Film Presence)
Michèle Stephenson (American Promise)
J.t. Takagi (Sound Recordist & Filmmaker)
David Teague (Editor, The Departure)
Basil Tsiokos (Programmer Sundance & Doc Nyc)
Stefanos Tsivopoulos (History Zero)
Pacho Velez (Searchers)
Stephanie Wang-breal (Blowin’ Up)
James N Kienitz Wilkins (The Plagerists)
Debra Zimmerman (Women Make Movies)
Sophia Nahli Allison (Love Song for Latasha)
Elegance Bratton (Pier Kids)
Angelica Negron (Composer, Memories of a Penitent Heart)
Chloe Gbai (IF/Then Shorts at Field of Vision)
Terra Long (350 Mya)
Derek Howard (The Hottest August)
“The program did an incredible job of creating a sense of urgency for the filmmakers. That feeling acted as a motivator for me to produce the best possible work while there in Brooklyn. I was more than happy with the overall structure. I felt that I was pushed, but I also felt that I had enough time to get the work done.”
Summer Documentary Lab 2016, NYC multi-media artist, Franklin Furnace Fund grantee, represented in London by Rokeby Gallery.
Artist Encounters with guest artists and industry professionals who represent some of the most exciting voices in the documentary field.
For an encounter, a visiting artist often shares the detailed history of a particular project from both a practical and a theoretical perspective as part of a larger conversation with the group. Encounters with visiting artists provide encouragement, inspiration, and exposure to a diverse set of conceptual perspectives and practical methods. UnionDocs has an expansive network of filmmakers from NYC and beyond that are invited for these opportunities.