Meeting and working with Docs In Progress flipped a switch,
so to speak, and they gave me the confidence and solid
direction I needed to become a documentary filmmaker.
It may be hard to believe, but those are the words of Sam Hampton.
This beloved Docs In Progress educator, mentor, and colleague once faced the same question many of our alumni do: Can I do this? Can I really make a documentary film? Am I a filmmaker?
Docs In Progress has been helping to make folks into documentary filmmakers for more than eight years, including four as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Each winter, we reach out to our communities of documentary film artists and documentary film fans to ask for your help to take Docs In Progress to the next level in the coming year.
In this giving season, we ask you to contribute whatever you can afford to build the confidence, skills, and potential of documentary filmmakers like Sam.
Like many of you, Sam discovered Docs In Progress by chance. In his case, he found us through an online search. For you, perhaps it was a recommendation from a friend. Or maybe you met one of our enthusiastic alumni at a party, on a bus, or at one of our public screenings.
Are you welcome? The answer is “Yes!” The answer to the first question is more complicated.
Here’s what goes on at Docs In Progress if you only look at the surface:
- Training classes to help people of all ages and backgrounds learn the skills of documentary video production and storytelling;
- Professional development: workshops, talks, and networking events which help emerging documentary filmmakers build their artistry, craft, business acumen, and connections;
- Public programs which help build an appreciation for documentary film as an art form and connect filmmakers with audiences.
At first glance, that is what goes on at Docs In Progress. But, look a little deeper, and you’ll find:
- A working mom spends Saturday mornings learning technical skills which will help her gain media-making savvy she can use in her career;
- A teenager discovers his voice by telling stories that have meaning to his everyday life;
- A filmmaker new to the area walks into an event, not knowing a soul, and finds not only a supportive community, but some new collaborators;
- A community conversation is sparked by seeing reflections and representations of neighbors and neighborhoods at community screenings and online;
- A social activist stumbles upon Docs In Progress when he wants to learn the basics of making a documentary, and ends up becoming an award-winning filmmaker, as well as a teacher and mentor to countless others who have followed in his footsteps.
Docs In Progress is about potential. It is about bringing out something which is capable of being, but is not yet in existence, and raising the bar for growth and development. This is true for more than 1,000 alumni who have walked through our doors.
And it is true for the organization itself. Did you know that, in 2012, individual donations helped us pilot a scholarship which provided teens and adults the opportunity to participate in documentary training programs they would not have otherwise been able to afford? Your support also helped us provide more than a dozen free or near-free programs throughout the year, including screenings, discussion groups, and networking events. And Docs In Progress now has a full-time Executive Director to manage all these programs -- thanks to your contributions which provided a required match for a grant.
Docs In Progress staff and board recently met to develop a strategic plan which will take us through 2015. We have ambitious plans for the coming years. In 2013 alone, we plan to roll out a new Fellowship Program, expand our Silver Spring Stories Festival to neighboring Takoma Park, and expand professional development programs to meet the needs of an ever-growing community of Washington DC-area documentary filmmakers.
We cannot do any of this without you. Your support keeps Docs In Progress nimble enough to try new programs out and keep ourselves and our community of emerging documentarians building towards our fullest potential. Please support Docs In Progress with a tax-deductible donation. You can easily donate online or, if you prefer to send a check or a donor-advised fund contribution, you can make it payable to "Docs In Progress" and send to Docs In Progress 8700 First Avenue Silver Spring, MD 20910.
P.S. We are more than half way to our goal of raising $5,000 by January 1. You have the power to flip the switch, releasing the power of documentary filmmaking to make a difference!