Introduction to Documentary Film Production: From Pre-Production to Post

It's Introduce Yourself Weekend at Stage 32! Head over to the Introduce Yourself section of the Stage 32 Lounge and let everyone know who you are, what you're working on, your dreams and aspirations. And be sure to peruse other member's threads. You never know when you're going to make a connection that changes your life!

Taught by Lisa Vangellow

$199

On Demand Class - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.

Rating   | Read reviews

Start Learning

Please make sure you use the same email address as the one you use to sign in to Stage 32
apply Your coupon will be applied after you agree to terms below.

- or -

$199.00
TOTAL PRICE:
Overlay Icon

Who Should Attend:

  • Filmmakers interested in the nuts and bolts of documentary film production.
  • Anyone who has an idea for a documentary but are not sure where to start.
  • Filmmakers who have little to no experience making documentary films.
  • Anyone with experience in narrative film production but are interested in trying documentaries.

Satisfaction Rate:

Class hosted by: Lisa Vangellow

Director/Producer at Orchid Child Productions

Lisa Vangellow is a producer and director with a penchant for character driven features, documentaries, and television. She holds an MFA in Producing from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television and a B.S. in Marketing from the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU. Lisa is currently in post-production on her documentary feature on the multi-faceted actor James Franco. Lisa was given unprecedented access to the enigmatic actor and traveled all over the world with him from 2013-2015. With over 200 hours of footage, she intends to deliver a compelling look inside the actor’s personal and professional life. In July 2014 Lisa was invited to be one of five filmmakers to participate in the Tribeca Film Institute Documentary StoryLab for the Franco Doc where she workshopped her project along with the 2015 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner The Wolfpack and the 2016 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Weiner. Lisa has previously produced the narrative feature film anthology, Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards starring Natalie Portman, Kristen Wiig, James Franco, Jimmy Kimmel, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblin, Thomas Mann, and Matthew Modine. It made its World Premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival in 2015 and will be distributed in 2016. Lisa’s film and TV slate includes a variety of fiction and nonfiction projects. In the documentary space, Lisa is in various stages of production on four feature documentaries and one docu-series. Full Bio »

Over the course of 3 sessions, you will learn overall knowledge and guidance in the tools and skills needed to prepare yourself to make a commercially viable documentary.

Week 1:

Overview: The current documentary landscape

  • What makes a good documentary film? 

  • What makes a commercially viable documentary film? 

  • Discuss past films, which received critical acclaim and what made them popular.


Show clips from films: Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Grizzly Man
, Bowling for Columbine
, Searching for Sugar Man
, Mistaken for Strangers
, Man on a Wire, Blackfish,
 The King of Kong, Exit Through the Gift Shop
, Queen of Versailles
, Cutie and the Boxer 
 

Pre-Production 


  • Outline what needs to be discussed prior to beginning your film shoot.
  1. Approaching your subject or determining your story

  2. Find financing or grants (references)

  3. Hiring an attorney

  4. Hiring Crew

  5. Research Editors

  6. Plan for travel

  7. Research and decide on equipment

  8. Create a budget

Legal

Why do you need an attorney?

  • Contracts 

  • Insurance (GL, Workman’s Comp, E & O) 

  • Appearance releases, location releases, notice of filming posts 

  • NDA's and crew contracts 

  • Licensing (show clips of various docs and explains how much it costs.) 
Music, movie, and archival film licensing process and cost.

Fair use

  • What is it and when is it appropriate to claim fair use? What is the risk?

 Interactive Q&A


Week 2:


Documentary Styles/Creating the Story

  • Verite 

  • Interview/archival 

  • Creating the narrative 


Securing Interviews: 


  • How to develop a rapport with your subject and gain trust.

  • Types of questions to ask.

  • How to secure interviews with people outside of your subject for the film.
  • How to deal with high profile interviews. 
 

Morals and Ethics 


Interactive Q&A


Week 3:


Editing/ Post Production


  • What editor is the best for your film style?

  • How long does it take and how much should you budget?

  • The editor is the most expensive but most important person to hire (besides a DP).
  • How to collaborate with an editor to create the story you want to tell.

  • How to deal with obstacles with your editor. 


Approaching obstacles and creating a timeline 


  • What is the purpose of your film?

  • Where will you show it?

  • Create a timeline from start to finish accounting for editing.
  • How to deal with various obstacles that arise during the process. 

  • Discuss examples: legal, money, lack of participation from subject, scheduling issues, travel, safety, ethics. 


Post Production/Deliverables 


  • Sound Mix 


Discuss the need/cost for VFX and Animation 


  • Color Correcting

  • Music Composition/licensing
  • Deliverables 


Festival Strategies

  • Include festival application fees in budget

  • Strategies on what festival is best for your film and why

  • Other distribution platforms: Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Showtime, Hulu

Interactive Q&A


Summary:

Over the past decade, documentary filmmaking has quickly increased in popularity among audiences and filmmakers alike. Offering the ability to learn a diverse range of topics, to view another culture or become familiar with an unknown aspect of life, documentary films will continue to grow without bounds. If you have an idea for a documentary film but do not know where to start, you are in the right place. This intensive 3-session master class will go over the nuts and bolts of documentary film production.

Taught by producer/director Lisa Vangellow (currently working on a documentary film centered on actor James Franco) will share step by step instruction on how to produce a commercially viable documentary film from idea to post-production. Even if you have little to no experience or if you have narrative film experience and are looking to try documentaries, Lisa will guide you towards the goal of completing a documentary film. 

Lisa will offer her experience from the trenches to help filmmakers over the course of her 3-week class. First, she’ll focus on the selection of subject matter and how to gauge its commercial viability. Lisa will take you through pre-production for a documentary film hitting on areas such as how to create a budget, hire your crew, get financing and explaining why you may want a lawyer to handle the nitty gritty. From there you’ll get an overview of different documentary styles and insight on how to create your story through the use of specific examples. Finally, Lisa will explain how to survive the post-production of your film to bring the entire project together and discuss your options for distribution.

Filmmakers will leave with an overall understanding of the documentary filmmaking process, an idea of what makes a good documentary, and how to execute these lessons in the real world.


Schedule:

Session 1 

Overview

Pre-Production 


Legal

Fair use

 

Session 2 

Documentary Styles/Creating the Story

Securing Interviews: 


Morals and Ethics 
 

 

Session 3 

Editing/ Post Production


Approaching obstacles and creating a timeline 


Post Production/Deliverables 



Discuss the need/cost for VFX and Animation 


Festival Strategies

 


About Your Instructor:

Lisa Vangellow is a producer and director with a penchant for character driven features, documentaries, and television. She holds an MFA in Producing from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television and a B.S. in Marketing from the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

Lisa is currently in post-production on her documentary feature on the multi-faceted actor James Franco. Lisa was given unprecedented access to the enigmatic actor and traveled all over the world with him from 2013-2015. With over 200 hours of footage, she intends to deliver a compelling look inside the actor’s personal and professional life.

In July 2014 Lisa was invited to be one of five filmmakers to participate in the Tribeca Film Institute Documentary StoryLab for the Franco Doc where she workshopped her project along with the 2015 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner The Wolfpack and the 2016 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Weiner.

Lisa has previously produced the narrative feature film anthology, Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards starring Natalie Portman, Kristen Wiig, James Franco, Jimmy Kimmel, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblin, Thomas Mann, and Matthew Modine. It made its World Premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival in 2015 and will be distributed in 2016.

Lisa’s film and TV slate includes a variety of fiction and nonfiction projects. In the documentary space, Lisa is in various stages of production on four feature documentaries and one docu-series.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is the format of a class?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 2 to 4 week ongoing broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online class, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the class software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The class software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live class. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

Q: What if I cannot attend the live class?
A: If you cannot attend a live class and purchase an On-Demand class, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the class afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand class, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 5 out of 5

  • I enjoyed the class immensely. Very informative and Lisa was a very excellent teacher and she's very cute and nice too. I do have a request tho that you have slides available for all three classes not just the first one so I may print out all of the material. It's a lot to write by hand. Thanks.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

How To Recoup Your Film's Profits Through Collection Account Management

Nowadays many independent film and TV productions that have multiple parties involved are looking for the best way to recoup profits on a completed project. One of the best ways to assure the parties involved with your film (producers, investors, financiers, sales agents and talent) see their returns is to have a collection account in place.  A collection account is an account in the name of a neutral third party who receives revenues generated by an independent film or TV project on behalf of the multiple beneficiaries from local distributors. This process is called collection account management and is an effective tool to guarantee that the beneficiaries receive their share of the revenues. The beneficiaries include producers, investors, financiers, sales agents and talent. Often times financiers, production partners and international sales agents put a collection account up as a requirement before even boarding project. During this webinar we will explain the functions and benefits of having a collection account in place for an independent film or TV project, how collection account management is set up and which parties should be involved in the entire process. We will further discuss the allocation and distribution of revenues, how to put together the Recoupment Schedule, and the importance of signing, or being a beneficiary to, the Collection Account Management Agreement.

How to Build a Your Brand As An Indie Producer & Apply It To Your Film Slate

In this Stage 32 Webinar, experienced independent producer Holly Brown will cover how to build your own production slate and make it work for you. The class will be broken down into two parts, the first of which is defining who you are as a producer and what you want your brand (or your company's brand) to be. And this doesn't just include genre -- it may also include style, types of stories or characters and working style. Doing so will not only help you to target great material but also let other creatives what they should be bringing to you.   Secondly, you will be learning how to put that brand into action by creating a well rounded and targeted film slate. You will learn how to identify projects that speak to your brand but also ensure that you have a clear vision for how they are going to get made. You will leave this webinar ready to build your own slate and make it work for you!

What It Takes To Get Your Project Set Up at Amazon/Netflix, Studios and TV (Cable, Network & Reality)

In this 90-minute webinar your host Aimee Rivera will go over the steps to set up a project in various different film and television mediums. She will go over everything you need to consider - audience, domestic vs. international, commercial vs. niche. She will then go into an overview of the current marketplace and what's selling in film and television. If you are a filmmaker, you will learn how to set up a project for a studio, with a case study for Sony Pictures. If you are a film or TV creator, you will learn what you need to know about both Amazon and Netflix in order to get your project set up at each streaming platform, and Aimee will also go over case studies of several of their most popular shows.   If you are a television creator, Aimee will walk you through what packages are required for cable networks, what elements need to be attached and go through case studies for AMC, FX and HBO. Additionally, Aimee will go over packaging and element requirements for traditional broadcast networks such as NBC, ABC, CW, FOX and CBS. You will also walk away with what each will NOT consider. Your Stage 32 Next Level Webinar host, Aimee Rivera, will discuss her background which spans studios, TV and streaming platforms. Aimee has worked with Sony, Cindy Cowan Entertainment, Amazon Studios, Exclusive Media - Rush, End of Watch, The Woman in Black, Prospect Park (Salem, Unstoppable, Wilfred), Village Roadshow Pictures (Lego Movie, Sherlock Holmes) and more. She will go over what she learned from each company that helped shaped the knowledge she knows on getting projects set up. To read more click the "What You Will Learn" tab above!  

Location Scouting 101

Learn directly from Tim Moshansky, a 20 year location scout who has worked on hundreds of films and TV shows including The Revenant, Twilight Saga: New Moon, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem! There are two things that a production starts doing as soon as they have the “green light” - casting for actors and scouting for locations. In a way, a location scout is like a casting director for locations. Unless a film is shot entirely in a studio with sets or green screen, locations are integral to how the film will look. Anyone can become a location scout, but to become a GREAT scout that people call again and again takes a keen eye, good people and photography skills, and on-the-ground experience. In this webinar Tim Moshansky will guide you through the entire process of scouting - from the moment you get the script or storyboards, to when they call “Action!” on set. Tim will offer you tips and insights from his nearly 20 years of scouting experience. Whether you are someone considering a career as a scout, or a filmmaker looking for ways to increase your production value and anticipate potential location problems, this is the webinar that will help you learn the basics about scouting. This webinar includes FREE bonus materials for download!: Locations Release Location Agreement Location Breakdown Script Breakdown

Navigating a Film's Financials: Budget, Cash Flows & Cost Reports

Part 1 - Budgets & Cash Flows Maura teaches you how to create a realistic plan for your film and make sure there is always money in the bank for what you need. You'll learn how to figure how much money you really need, and how to put together a proper film budget. Part 2 - Cost Reports, Film Infrastructure, & Tax Incentives Maura discusses setting up a film's infrastructure (from setting up an LLC to finding a lawyer) and various accounting options. She details cost reports, and how to analyze what you've spent and what you need to spend. Lastly, she discusses tax incentives before hosting a Q&A session. Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class. Although Maura is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all filmmakers to participate.  

Developing & Financing Family and Faith Based Projects

Learn directly from Nikki Hevesy and Anne Marie Gillen, Producers with over 20 years of experience each in developing and financing media projects. Nikki is a director, producer and media strategist with an expertise in integrating faith-based content into mainstream media, and Anne Marie is an expert on film finance, having successfully raised over $100M for projects worldwide. With the recent successes of films like Heaven Is For Real, Son Of God, God Is Not Dead, and all of the faith oriented films coming down the pike like Mark Burnett’s Ben Hur, Mary Mother Of Christ and The Shack, Faith and Family based projects have grown from a niche market to a box office phenomenon.TV has also jumped on the bandwagon with the recent Red Tent, Preachers of LA and Mark Burnett’s The Bible and A.D. However, alongside these successes are huge controversies in the faith community, such as those surrounding Paramount's Noah and Ridley Scott’s Exodus. Faith and Family based material is like a soufflé – if you get even the smallest ingredient wrong, the entire soufflé collapses. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, hosts Nikki Hevesy and Anne Marie Gillen will walk you through the development and financing phases of creating a successful faith and/or family based project. Drawing from their 20 years of experience, Nikki and Anne Marie will teach you how faith and family based projects get funded and who the financiers, studios and distributors are that specialize in this genre so you know who to target. They will also teach you how to easily find and reach your desired audience and what type of marketing is successful for this genre. Whether you’re a producer, filmmaker or writer, knowing what goes into a faith and family project in the development stage, team building stage and financing and distribution stage is key to your project’s success in the marketplace!

register for stage 32 Register / Log In