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How I Spent My Summer Part 3 (Carolyn Projansky)

The next installment of our guest blog series in which we ask Docs In Progress staff and alumni to reflect on how they they spent their summers in documentary land€¦ 


Next up, Carolyn Projansky whose film The Fast Lane was featured at a Docs In Progress  work in progress screening in 2005.   She is now at work on a feature documentary, Breaking the Rules about white South Africans who fought against the system in the Apartheid era.  As she continues production, Projansky has started to build her audience and has discovered a new tool to help.




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How I Spent My Summer: Part 2 (Andre Dahlman)

The next installment of our guest blog series in which we ask Docs In Progress staff and alumni to reflect on how they they spent their summers in documentary land... 


Next up, Andre Dahlman whose film MURPHY'S GAMBIT: A CHESS HUSTLER'S STORY was featured in the Docs In Progress 2008 Trailer Night.  Andre has also taken several classes with Docs In Progress and was one of three Docs In Progress Fellows to the 2008 Flaherty Film Seminar.   While Andre gained a lot from the challenging discussions at Flaherty, he was up for another challenge this summer.



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How I Spent My Summer: Part 1 (Aviva Kempner)


It's a rite of fall for schoolchildren to share with each other how they spent their summer breaks.  We thought we'd ask the same of colleagues in the documentary community by asking some Docs In Progress alumni and staff to reflect on how they spent their summers.  Over the next month, we'll be sharing some of these summer stories. 



First up, Aviva Kempner whose film YOO HOO, MRS. GOLDBERG was shown at a Docs In Progress work-in-progress screening in 2005.  Kempner completed the film earlier this year and, from the sounds of it, this summer has involved lots of travel, but been far from a vacation.



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Wrap-Up from SilverDocs 2009

In this instant-gratification-60-character-status-upsilverdocs-theater-2009date age, it may seem a little odd to be writing up my reflections on a film festival which ended three weeks ago.  But it has taken me that long to collect my thoughts and impressions of the 2009 SilverDocs Documentary Film Festival.  And, although I have attended the festival every year since it began in  2003, this year was a bit different.  For it was the first year where I would be attending as someone with a foot fully in the documentary world, not as a sideline project.   It might seem like attending this year as the full-time Executive Director of Docs In Progress would create a different set of expectations for me.  But in reality, I had few expectations.  Mostly because I had so little time to create them.


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Silverdocs is coming...Don't go hungry.

SILVERDOCS begins Monday night and Silver Spring is about to become the world capital of all things documentary.  While I probably won't have much time to blog during the festival itself, I will definitely give my annual wrap-up on the festival and conference.


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Come hang out with us at SILVERDOCS

It's that time of year again.  SILVERDOCS is coming June 15-22, bringing with it the promise of documentaries, filmmakers, and great dialogues around all things documentary - reacting to films, panels on the joys and challenges of production, fundraising, outreach, and so on.   And it's all in our backyard!


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Docs In Progress Alumni Unite!

It is hard to believe that it has been nearly five years since Docs In Progress screened its first two documentary works in progress.  Swing dancing and China's Cultural Revolution were the topics we started with and we have continued to work with a diversity of films and filmmakers through screenings, consultations, classes, and other professional development activities to help them be the best they can be.  While we have not focused formally on helping our alumni stay connected with each other, a few of them have decided to take things into their own hands.  And we couldn't be happier.  Saltanat Berdikeeva, who has participated in a few of our classes and is organizing the first Docs In Progress Alumni Happy Hour, wanted to convey to her fellow alumni why she feels an alumni network is so important.  So we have given her the floor of our blog to reach out.



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Fundraising in a Slow Economy

With the economic downturn upon us, it would seem that the outlook for documentary funding in the United States looks bleak. Individual donors are tightening their belts. State and local government funds are being cut across the country, with arts funds often the first to suffer. Corporations facing smaller profits or losses translate into less money being put into their foundations. And media-friendly community foundations have not been immune from the souring economy since many are vested in the stock market (with one - the JEHT foundation which has funded a number of video and audio documentaries on topics related to the legal and human rights implications of the war on terror - has actually ceased to exist as a result of putting too many eggs in the Bernie Madoff basket).

In spite of these depressing facts, funds are still out there. It's just that the competition for them has increased and only the strong and scrappy will survive. That's one of the reasons we are going to draw on our in-house fundraising talent, Sam Hampton, to teach both aspiring and experienced documentary filmmakers everything they need to know about coming up with fundraising proposals. And it's also why we decided to continue our fascination with the power of the Internet as a tool for fundraising by looking at two very different approaches.


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In Memory of Brent Hurd

In a season where there is so much good news to report about Docs In Progress and our alumni, we also wanted to share some sad news. Some of you may already know about the untimely death of Brent Hurd, a 38-year-old documentary filmmaker who called Washington DC home for a time, but was really a citizen of the world. Brent was killed the evening of November 22 in Bangalore, India when his bicycle was hit by a city bus. He was in India working as a media trainer.


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The Art of the Elevator Pitch

Just when you least expect it, you may be in a situation where you have an opportunity to pitch to a potential funder, broadcaster, distributor, or someone else who can have a positive influence on the life and trajectory of your film. You might only have a few minutes though. Are you ready? Filmmakers Doug Block and Aviva Kempner have years of experience with the proverbial "elevator pitch" and share their tips.

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