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Silverdocs Impressions

This year, in addition to the dispatches from Matt Radcliff and tweets from Erica Ginsberg, Docs In Progress reached out to many of our program alumni to get a sampling of the word on the street about what they got out of the festival and conference.  Here’s what they had to say…



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DSLR in Documentaries - Matt’s Report from Silverdocs

The Silverdocs Film Festival and Conference is in full swing.  We’ll be filing some reviews next week, but just wanted to share a few impressions as it happens.  Contributor Matthew Radcliff attended an intriguing conference session on Tuesday - a DSLR workshop led by documentary filmmaker Steven Bognar and DP/Editor Matt Gottshalk from Alexandria-based McGee Digital Media.  Gottshalk is a noted expert on using DSLR cameras for video work and is a co-author of From Still to Motion.


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Festival Tip: You Need to Budget…and That Includes Festivals

“I spent all my money making my film and have no money left for festivals. Will you please waive my submission fee?”

This is the start of many an e-mail film festival programmers seem to receive while their festival’s submission period is open. While it is likely a true statement in most cases, the question is why? Why are filmmakers not budgeting for outreach as a part of their planning? It is a bit like budgeting to get you through a pregnancy and not saving any money to help feed, clothe, or save for a child’s education.


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Inside the Docs In Progress Screening Selection Process

by Erica Ginsberg

Docs In Progress is gearing up for our seventh year of presenting work-in-progress screening programs. When Adele Schmidt and I started this (ad)venture back in May 2004, our only goal was to help fellow documentary filmmakers have a space to share their works in progress with peers in a public setting. At the time, we could not imagine how Docs In Progress would evolve. In the first year, we relied on word-of-mouth among the DC-area filmmaking community to garner submissions. To this day, I am still amazed at the filmmakers who put their trust in us to present and moderate feedback sessions on their works-in-progress....especially in those first few screenings where we faced technical challenges and an uncertainity if anyone would show up for the screenings.

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Festival Tip: Don't Underestimate the Power of an Image

Perhaps this topic is particularly on my mind because I have recently returned from a trip through Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi where I had a chance to see some of the places which formed some of the most powerful images of the civil rights movement - Little Rock Central High School, the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, and the Lyceum at Ole Miss. Until the moment I saw those places firsthand, I could only imagine them through written descriptions of what happened there and from the still and moving images of what happened at each of them more than half a century ago. Iconic images which tell a story so much more deeply than the written texts or even on-camera interviews which accompany them. They help connect me to a world before I was born, a world it is sometimes hard to believe existed if not for these images as everlasting evidence.


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Festival Tip: Know Thy Festival

OK, so we talked in Tip # 10 about not submitting at the final deadline.  Part of not waiting to submit late is about planning. Filmmakers are expected to spend a lot of time in planning their documentaries - from researching and planning what you want to film to how you are going to raise funds for it to your shooting schedule and shot list to logs and transcripts to your editing script or EDL to your added materials like music and archival. Often less time is planned for how the film is actually going to get out there. The plan often consists of "Get into Sundance. Get it into theaters. Sell it to a broadcaster. Move on to Next Film."  But even the minority of filmmakers who are lucky, talented, and savvy enough to actually follow through on this plan don't do so without a lot of research and planning.


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Festival Tip: Don't Wait for the Late Deadline

Docs In Progress Executive Director Erica Ginsberg here.    In the coming weeks, I'll countdown from 10 to 1 of what I consider the most important tips on film festivals.   I will preface my tips by saying that, as an organization focused on documentaries, I am writing with documentary films in mind...and specifically knowing that many of our readers are emerging documentary filmmakers who may be working on their first films and are not necessarily coming out of film school.  That said, I think there are some things which may be relevant to fiction filmmakers and hopefully even more seasoned documentary filmmakers might find a tidbit here and there.  You may or may not agree with all I have to say but that's why I decided to share these on our blog.  Your comments are welcome.  So, without futher ado, let's get started:


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Radcliff's Reviews: Countdown to Zero

Fresh from his Silverdocs reporting, Docs In Progress resident critic, Matthew Radcliff is back with a new reflection on a documentary you can seeon the big or small screen.  This time it's Countdown to Zero, which just opened in Washington (as well as New York and Los Angeles) this past week at Landmark's E Street Theatre.



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More Reflections from Matt on Silverdocs: Art as Escape


Docs In Progress is pleased to offer more reflections on films at Silverdocs from guest reviewer Matthew Radcliff.



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Matt's Reflections on Silverdocs: All in the Family

Docs In Progress was lucky this year to have not one but two people on the ground at Silverdocs. Matthew Radcliff who has been contributing film reviews throughout the year to our blog filed his own report on the festival.


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