Summer 2018 News From Docs In Progress

Relive a busy summer at Docs In Progress. Learn where we will be moving next year. Discover projects selected for our upcoming industry pitch. Get a sneak peek at fall programs from Docs In Progress and other organizations. Plus news from alums, upcoming  funding deadlines, hot reads, and more...

What's been happening this summer at Docs In Progress? 

Our Executive Director Erica Ginsberg co-moderated a Town Hall on the state of documentary filmmaking in the Washington DC metropolitan area at the AFI DOCS Film Festival. You can revisit the Facebook Livestream here. This will be an ongoing conversation to be continued at other convenings to come.

Peer Pitch headed to Durham, North Carolina (as part of the Southern Documentary Fund's Artist Convening) and back to our hometown of Silver Spring, MD (as a lead-in event to the AFI DOCS Film Festival). All in all, including our spring programs in Sebastopol, CA and Chicago, IL, 45 different films were pitched this year from filmmakers from twelve states and two foreign countries. Nine of them will be coming to Washington DC for a follow-up Industry Pitch this fall (see more on that below).

We were honored to welcome filmmaker Grace Lee as our special guest for our Docs In The City program focused around the theme of identity. She screened and discussed Off The Menu: Asian America. The evening also included a work-in-progress screening of Building the American Dream, directed by Chelsea Hernandez. Our next Docs In The City screening will take place in November. Stay tuned for more details, including our call for submissions for works-in-progress.

Our 2018 Filmmaker-in-Residence Tamara Dawit just completed her residency where she was working on Finding Sally which tells the story of a young woman whose romances and ideals entangled her in Ethiopia's revolutionary fever and forced her to go underground, never to be seen by her family again. While here, Tamara also met with our Fellows, screened her earlier film Grandma Knows Best?, and gave a workshop on approaches to documenting family and friends.

We've also been busy teaching video production in Takoma Park, Maryland. In June, we offered our first ever Senior Summer Camp aimed at teaching those 55 and older how to make short personal documentaries. In August, our Activist Video Camp for youth ages 12-18 resulted in four short documentaries covering topics of economic development, body image, community gardening, and public transportation. You will get a chance to see some of the films produced in these camps at our Community Stories Festival in November.

A big shout out to our amazing summer interns Gabriella Jones (University of Maryland), Claire Maske (Skidmore College), and Christian Partenio (University of Connecticut). We can't wait to see what you do next!

A New Chapter for Docs In Progress is Coming in 2019...

Early next year, Docs In Progress will be moving from our current space on Wayne Avenue into permanent space on the ground floor of Alexander House, a mixed use development one block from the Silver Spring Metro. 

This represents a partnership with Montgomery County's Housing Opportunities Commission which selected Docs In Progress as one of only three nonprofits to occupy ground floor space in Alexander House, part of the new Elizabeth Square multi-use development in downtown Silver Spring. Our new home will allow us to better serve our growing community by offering a state-of-the-art filmmaking education center with new equipment, editing suites, and larger classrooms; a screening room of our own; and more opportunities for the regional filmmaking community to connect face-to-face in a convenient and comfortable space.

You will be hearing a lot more about the move in the coming months since this will be a gamechanger for Docs In Progress and our community. In the meantime, programs will continue at our current space and other venues through the end of the year. 

Learn more about what's to come next year in our new space

Learn about the history of Docs In Progress and space from our Executive Director's recent Pecha Kucha presentation.

Nine Projects Selected for Docs In Progress Industry Pitch at Double Exposure Festival  

After more than a decade of programming Peer Pitch, we took it to the next level this year by facilitating Peer Pitches in four regions of the country. Nine films first pitched at Peer Pitch have been invited back to Washington DC for our first-ever Docs In Progress Pitch where they will draw on what they learned at Peer Pitch and use that in this industry pitch. This will take place at the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival this October.

The projects selected are Chasing Westboro (Adam Villani), The Collaborator's Son (Jason Osder and Will Youmans), Downwind (Lois Lipman), Finding Yingying (Jiayan Jenny Shi), First Vote (Yi Chen and Diane Quon), Gullah Gone (Denise McGill and Sherard Duvall), The Hive (Edgar Barens), Our Daughters (Chithra Jeyaram), and The Unger Decision (Andrea Conte). Learn more about these projects.

The Docs In Progress Pitch will be open for Double Exposure Symposium passholders to observe. Get your pass now.

This program is made possible through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Call for Submissions for Community Stories Festival
Submit by August 31

Do you have a short documentary on a local theme? Docs In Progress is now accepting submissions of short documentaries about people, places, history, and happenings in the Greater Washington DC Metropolitan area. This will be for our Community Stories Festival taking place November 8-14, 2018.

Films must be about topics based in one or more of the following locales: Washington DC; the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George's, Frederick, and Howard; the Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun, or the Virginia cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church.

We especially love films in the 3-15 minute range, but will accept submissions up to 30 minutes in length. This festival is for completed films only.

The deadline to submit is August 31. Submission is free. While you will see a submission fee noted on Film Freeway, this is only because we want to discourage submissions from folks who don't read the guidelines and submit fiction content or documentaries which do not meet our geographic guidelines. If yours does meet the guidelines, simply use the Waiver Code CS18 and the fee will be waived.

Submit here.  

Applications are Open for the Docs In Progress Board of Directors
Apply by September 30

Board_Meeting_2015.jpgHow can you take your enthusiasm for the mission of Docs In Progress to the next level? Consider applying to join our Board of Directors. Comprised of filmmakers, business leaders and other community members, the Docs In Progress Board ensures the organization is an effectively governed, financially sustainable organization dedicated to offering quality services for many years to come.

Serving on the Docs In Progress Board of Directors offers countless opportunities for professional and personal growth (expanding leadership skills, fundraising abilities, and networks) as well as the satisfaction of helping to build and strengthen the documentary filmmaking and broader arts community. You would be joining at a very exciting time of growth for Docs In Progress when we will be moving into a larger space, undergoing a new strategic planning process, and building on our existing educational, screening, and artist service programs to expand the communities we serve.

Learn more about board service

Applicants will be contacted for a follow-up conversation
with a current board member. If you have questions,
please contact Board Chair Jay Elvove at [email protected] 

Perspectives From Our Peeps: Blogs, Opinions, and Musings


by Kathy Dismukes

While many social issue filmmakers want their documentaries to make an impact at the national level, because of the decentralized nature of the United States, sometimes films can have the most impact at the state and local level. A recent WIFV/Docs In Progress Documentary Roundtable focused on this topic.

Read more


by Tien Pasco

Like many "solopreneurs" trying to balance independent documentary work with client work and running their businesses, 2018 Fellow Tien Pasco of Storylab Films knows how challenging it can be to find time to focus on being creative. She has found a way which works for her and may for you.

Read more


by Scott Gordon

Our colleague from Word Wizards, which has provided transcriptions for more than 10,000 interviews still had more to learn about the art of the interview as he is producing his own documentary. He attended a workshop with our co-founder Adele Schmidt in the spring and shared some of the tips he learned. 

Read more


by Alyscia Cunningham

A 2017 Docs In Progress Fellow and Fiscal Sponsoree reflects on the frustrations of trying to raise grant funding as a black artist whose work doesn't fit neatly into the box of what many funders want to support.

Read more


by Kiley Kraskouskas

In a town which lives, breathes, and sleeps networking in a field where word of mouth connections are everything, is it still possible to develop relationships which go deeper. A former Docs In Progress Board says yes.

Read more.


News From Our Community


Do you know this jacket? ----------------------------------------------------------->
Before we get into alumni news, we first are looking for the alum who belongs to this jacket. It's been in our rolling coat hanger since early spring. As we start readying our offices for our move in January, we will not be able to take lost-and-found items with us.  If nobody claims this jacket by the end of September, we will donate it to a homeless shelter. If it is yours, please contact Andrea Passafiume at [email protected]

And now on to the news...

Center for Asian American Media Awards Funds to 2017 Fellow Yi Chen
First Vote from Yi Chen is one of four projects which received 2018 Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) Documentary Fund Awards. This award is made possible with generous support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. CAAM supports independent filmmakers who are producing stories by or about Asian Americans intended for public broadcast. First Vote has been developed through the Docs In Progress Fellowship and has also been workshopped through our Peer Pitch and Roundtable programs. Chen's film is one of two projects from the Washington DC area supported by the fund; congratulations go out as well to Leena Jayaswal and Caty Borum who received support for their new film Mixed. Chen was also selected to attend the investigative reporting workshop for independent documentary filmmakers at UC Berkeley and presented her work-in-progress at Beyond Borders: Diverse Voices of the American South in Durham, NC and spoke at the CAAMFest Filmmakers Summit in San Francisco. Learn more.

Three Docs In Progress Alums Selected for POV Best Pitch at Brooklyn Film Festival Exchange; One Wins!
As part of the Brooklyn Film Festival, the BFFX Pitch Session gives those with works in progress a chance to pitch to a panel of industry experts. This year, of the six projects selected for the pitch, half of them were alums of Docs In Progress programs, including Million Dollar Block (Peer Pitch), City of Enchantment (Peer Pitch), and Cirque du Cambodia (Fellowship). We were thrilled to learn that the latter project, directed by 2018 Fellow Joel Gershon (photo at left) was awarded POV Best Pitch.

Love, Gilda Coming to Theaters in September
The festival favorite and Peer Pitch alum is being released by Magnolia Pictures in theaters beginning September 21. This will include Landmark's E Street Cinema in Washington DC and the Charles Theatre in Baltimore, MD. Learn more.


Day Al Mohamed To Speak on Panel and Convening at Getting Real Conference
2015 Fellow Day Al Mohamed will be one of the featured panelists at the Getting Real 2018, a conference organized by the International Documentary Association and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She will be part of a convening and panel of documentary filmmakers with disabilities at the conference.

Emmy Wins Regionally and National Emmy Nomination for Docs In Progress Community Members
Amy Oden (2014 Fellow) received an Emmy at the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter's 60th Awards in June for her work around the opioid crisis in Maryland for Maryland Public Television. Former Board President Leon Gerskovic (photo at right) also took home a regional Emmy for Detective X about a government physicist who modernized forensic science. On the national front, Em Cooper has been nominated for Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction for Deej (fiscal sponsoree and Peer Pitch alum).  

I Am More Than My Hair Book Launch September 9
Alyscia Cunningham (fiscal sponsoree and 2016 Fellow) has been working on a multi-media look at redefining beauty standards with an emphasis on the stories of females who've experienced alopecia or have cut their hair in solidarity of a loved one. In addition to the documentary film, this project has included a book. The launch for the book will take place on Sunday, September 9 from 5:00-7:00 pm at Busboys & Poets Hyattsville. Meet the women who participated in the project and take part in a Q&A about Cunningham and her passion behind her project. Book signing to follow. Learn more.

Eye of the Beholder Wins at GenCon
GenCon, one of the biggest gaming conventions in North America awarded Best Documentary to Eyes of the Beholder: the Art of Dungeons and Dragons produced by 2016 Docs In Progress Fellow Kelly Slagle and Seth Polansky (photo at right).

Jamie Lee Curtis Comes on as Executive Producer on Hayden & Her Family
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign which raised more than $20,000 towards completing animations and a rough cut, Hayden & Her Family (directed by Peer Pitch alum May Tchao) has brought on actress and adoption activist Jamie Lee Curtis as an Executive Producer. Learn more

APEX Award for an Introduction to Documentary Production Class Project
Congratulations to Donald Tepper, David Kosterlitz, and Jerry Friedman whose film National Museum of Health and Medicine won an Award of Excellence in Communication's Concepts' APEX 2018 awards, a competition for communications professionals. The film was produced in our very own Intro to Documentary Production class taught by Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich. You can watch the film on our YouTube Channel.

Frohman's Latest Project Released on iTunes
Following a brief festival run, The Wall’s Embrace has been released on iTunes. A sensitive exploration of the enduring psychological and emotional impact of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the film was produced and directed by Roundtable Alum Nancy Frohman.

Alums: Don't be left out! Send your news via our new online form. The Fall Newsletter will be published in November. Deadline to submit updates for consideration is October 1.

Other Happenings in the World of Documentary

Getting Real Conference in Los Angeles September 25-27
Getting Real is a unique biennial gathering that will bring more than 800 members of the documentary community together for three days in September in Los Angeles, California. Co-hosted by the International Documentary Association and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Getting Real will feature keynotes, panels, master classes, and convenings around the themes of creativity, sustainability, and transparency. The event serves as a critically needed field-building incubator that tackles the most meaningful and challenging issues facing the documentary ecosystem. PRO TIP: While passes are available through August 31, we recommend getting your pass before the full program is announced on Aug 23. Due to the intimate size of some conference venues, many Getting Real ‘18 sessions will require RSVP when creating your personal schedule. Learn more

Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival and Symposium October 10-14

The Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival and Symposium returns to Washington DC from October 10-14. Presented by 100Reporters, Double Exposure pairs showings of the most exciting new investigative works on film with a symposium custom-built to advance investigative projects, and promote dialogue between investigative reporters, filmmakers, and the industry that supports them. Beyond film screenings, panels, master classes and workshops, this year's edition will offer exciting initiatives, including pitch sessions for journalists and filmmakers; pre-arranged one-on-one meetings with industry gatekeepers through DX Access; free legal guidance, with the possibility of ongoing representation, via the DX Pro Bono Legal Clinic and more. Docs In Progress is proud to be a community partner and organizer of an Industry Pitch session at the Symposium and to provide a 15% discount on festival passes to members of our Docs Insiders program. Learn more.


Global Impact Film Festival August 24-26
This year there are nearly 40 documentaries that provoke and inspire social change at the Global Impact Film Festival. The festival takes place August 24-26 at the Renaissance Hotel (999 9th Street, NW Washington DC). Members of our Docs Insiders program receive 15% off tickets or passes. Learn more

DC Shorts Celebrates 15th Year September 6-16
Please join our Community Partner, DC Shorts, in celebrating their 15th anniversary year from September 6-15 You're invited to attend... everything! Enjoy 125 of the finest film shorts from 30 countries, 18 showcases, cool parties, free workshops, 9 themed showcases & more! Learn more. 

The Future of Film Conference October 5-6
This annual conference from The Creative Edge returns in early October at a new venue -- THE HOTEL at the University of Maryland in College Park. The conference brings together creatives, place-makers and policy-makers from Prince George's County and beyond for professional development, community conversations, master classes, and networking. Sessions will focus on a variety of topics including different approaches to film marketing and distribution, immersive storytelling, film incentives, creative workspaces, legal issues for creative entrepreneurs, and the future of Afrofuturism. Learn more.

Becoming American Film Series coming to Gallaudet this Fall
Gallaudet University’s Drs. John S. & Betty J. Schuchman Deaf Documentary Center will host Becoming American: A Documentary Film and Discussion Series on Our Immigration Experience. This six-week program series funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities will combine film screenings and scholar-led discussions to encourage informed discussion on historical and contemporary immigration issues. The screenings at Gallaudet will strive to add a “Deaf lens” to the topics raised via discussion. Films discussed will include New York, The Jewish Americans, Welcome to Shelbyville, The New Americans, Destination America, My American Girls, and The Search for General Tso. Learn more.

TIVA Gear Yard Sale and Cookout September 15
This is a great opportunity for folks to unload gear that's gathering dust, be it production gear, post-production gear, or any flotsam related to the film/video/audio industry. For folks who need gear, it's a chance to see that gear in person, talk to the owner, and hopefully make some handy purchases. The event will take place at DCTV (901 Newton Street NE Washington DC) on Saturday, September 15 from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm. Learn more.



Institute for Documentary Filmmaking Applications Open
The Documentary Center at George Washington University is looking for a diverse group of non-fiction storytellers to join their 2019 Institute for Documentary Filmmaking. The Institute is an advanced, six-month (January through June), nine-credit program that leads to a Graduate Certificate in Documentary Filmmaking. Learn more

Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship Open Call
Entering its ninth year, the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship champions emerging documentary editors by developing their talent, expanding their creative community, and furthering their career aspirations. Editors who have cut at least one feature documentary (60 minutes or more) but no more than three (fiction or documentary) are encouraged to apply for the fellowship. The deadline to apply is September 30. Learn more

Sebastopol Film Festival Call for Submissions
Every year, Docs In Progress heads to the west coast for the first Peer Pitch of the year at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival in Northern California. 2019 will mark the festival's 12th year of exhibiting non-fiction work of independent filmmakers. Sebastopol audiences enjoy being challenged as well as entertained. If you have a documentary feature or short you would like to submit, the deadline is September 17. Learn more.

Environmental Film Festival Call for Submissions
Submissions for the 27th Annual Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital are now open! The DCEFF takes place every March at venues throughout the Washington, D.C. area. They welcome films on all topics related to the natural and built environment. This year, in addition to short (40 minutes or less) and feature (greater than 40 minutes) categories, DCEFF is also accepting Virtual Reality projects. This year's festival selections will be eligible for awards worth a total of $30,000. Learn more.

FilmFest DC Discount for DC-Area Filmmakers
Entries are now open at  for the 33rd Washington, DC
International Film Festival (April 25-May5, 2019), the longest running and largest film
festival in the DC area. The early (discounted) deadline of September 7 for shorts and feature length works alike is fast approaching. Regular deadline is November 26. DC area filmmakers are encouraged to enter and may
be eligible for fee discount: Write to [email protected] with address and local connection. Learn more.

Check out our calendar of upcoming documentary film screenings and events in the Washington DC Metro area at

We love to feature updates from our fellow film organizations. Send us your updates, announcements or deadlines via our new online form. The Fall Newsletter will be published in November. Deadline to submit updates for consideration is October 1.

Upcoming Funding, Lab, Residency and Pitch Deadlines and Opportunities

Note that some are limited by geographic or other requirements. Please read guidelines carefully.

August 17: Hot Docs/Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund

August 31: IF/Then Short Documentary Pitch Deadline (for pitching at New Orleans Film Festival or DocNYC) 

September 1: Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund

September 1: IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Development Grant

September 1: Maryland Humanities Major Grant

September 14: ITVS Diversity Development Grant

September 14: California Documentary Project NextGen Grant

October 1: Center for Asian American Media Documentary Fund

October 15: Virginia Humanities Fund

November 1: California Documentary Project Research and Production Grants

November 15: Miller/Packan Film Fund

Rolling Deadlines

Sundance Documentary Fund
Fledgling Fund
The Bertha BRITDOC Documentary Journalism Fund
AMDOC Artist Emergency Fund

Want to see the full list of film funders?
We now have a permanent place on our website which you can bookmark to get links to more information on major film funders. You can access the page for free as long as you sign in to our website
Here's the link to bookmark:

Hot Reads

Have you been too busy to keep up with what's been going on in the world of documentary? We've compiled links to some articles and blogs we think you may find of interest.

The Doc Life: How to Be Part of a Larger Documentary Community (Film Independent)

We’re in This Amazing Golden Era of Documentary (The Ringer)

The Evolution of the Educational Market (Film Collaborative)

Reel Truth: Why Was My Film Not Selected? (Film Freeway)

DOC NYC launches emerging talent initiative (ReelScreen)

Let’s hear about poverty from the poor for a change (The Guardian)

Want to see more? We now have a permanent place on our website which you can bookmark to keep up with the latest articles and blogs of interest. You can access the page for free as long as you sign in to our website.  Bookmark this page:

What Else is Coming Up From Docs In Progress?

August 31: Deadline to Submit Films for Community Stories Festival

September 8-October 20: Intro to Documentary Production

September 10: Documentary Roundtable: Fiscal Sponsorship (Washington DC)

September 13: Vintage Movie Night: Our Constitution and Government

September 18: The Essentials of Documentary Storytelling 

September 20: Choosing the Right Camera Package for Your Documentary

September 25: The Big Picture of Documentary Structure

October 1: Deadline to Apply for Fiscal Sponsorship

October 2: Documentary Structure Case Studies

October 10-31: Backpack Filmmaking 2: Practical Solo Production

October 15: Archival Media Bootcamp at the National Archives (College Park)

October 16: Archival Media Bootcamp at the Library of Congress (Washington DC) 

October 18: Your First Documentary: Getting From Idea to Reality

October 25: Creating Legacy Videos

October 27: Documentary Interviewing Skills Bootcamp

October 30: Budgeting for Documentaries

November 7: Make The Most of Your Film Festival Experience

November 8-14: Community Stories Festival

November 10: Filmmaking at Your Fingertips: The Smartphone Documentarian

November 17: Cinematography for Documentaries


About Docs In Progress

Docs In Progress is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering, educating, and engaging emerging documentary filmmakers and the audiences they are trying to reach. We offer more than 50 different educational, professional development, screening, and artist services programs every year in the Washington DC Metropolitan area and beyond.

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