Winter 2018 Newsletter


Meet the 2018 Fellows, Learn what festivals and filmmakers wish from each other, discover a new opportunity with Peer Pitch. Plus news from our alums, upcoming funding deadlines, hot reads, and more...

Meet the 2018 Docs In Progress Fellows


Docs In Progress is pleased to announce the selections for the 2018 Docs In Progress Fellowship. Now in its sixth year, this Program brings together a cohort of emerging documentary filmmakers from across the Washington DC/Baltimore Metropolitan area for an eight month Fellowship. Selected through a competitive application process, these ten Fellows represent a variety of professional backgrounds, documentary styles and subject matter, and stages of development of their current documentaries-in-progress. Please welcome Khiné Bonner, Sarah Daggett, Joel Gershon, Katie Lannigan, Natosha Morris, Emre Ozdemir, Jaclyn O'Laughlin, Tien Pasco, Angela Pinaglia, and Ray Whitehouse. Learn more about their projects here.

The Fellows will participate together in a series of monthly meetings from February through September 2018 where they will come together to share and hold each other accountable for progress on these current projects, and have a facilitated discussion with each other and with special guest speakers about issues related to the documentary landscape, work/life balance, and the creative process. Thanks to the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, they will also attend the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

Peer Pitch Expands in 2018 with West Coast Edition Kicking Things Off in March





Peer Pitch is one of Docs In Progress' longest-running programs, and we are excited to announce that it will be expanding in 2018. This is an opportunity for documentary filmmakers with works-in-progress at any stage of development to give their pitches and trailers a test run and get feedback in a safe space from other filmmakers. 

Films which have been presented at past Peer Pitch workshops when they were in their early stages have gone on to get funding from major funders such as Sundance and ITVS; have been accepted into industry pitching opportunities such as IFP’s Independent Film Week, HotDocs Forum, and Points North Pitch; and have gone on to play festivals, television, and community screenings around the world. Participants have also made connections with other filmmakers which have led to later collaborations. Some of the films which have come through Peer Pitch have included Let the Fire Burn, Slingshot, Deej, Big Sonia, Kandahar Journals, Sweetheart Deal, Out in the Silence, Indivisible, Transmilitary, and Uranium Drive-In.

In 2018, thanks to additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts and some great new partners, we are expanding Peer Pitch regionally and taking the program to the next level. Docs In Progress will facilitate four Peer Pitches -- in California, Illinois, North Carolina, and our home base of Silver Spring, MD just outside Washington DC. At least 30 documentary filmmakers -- everyone from industry veterans to emerging filmmakers to students will have an opportunity to get feedback on their pitches at Peer Pitch. 

New this year: Up to six of these filmmakers will be selected to return to Washington DC to pitch their projects in front of funders, broadcasters, and festival programmers at the Docs In Progress Pitch at the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival and Symposium. So not only will you get valuable feedback on your film from peers, you may have the opportunity to raise its profile among industry leaders.

This program is made possible through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and our amazing partners: The D-Word, Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, AFI DOCS, and Columbia College. 

Learn More

An Open Letter to Film Festivals and the Filmmakers Who Apply to Them

Film_Festival.jpgDocs In Progress Executive Director Erica Ginsberg has been both a festival programmer and a filmmaker applying to film festivals, so she knows the joys and struggles of putting together a festival and trying to get a film out in the world. While film festivals and filmmakers are mutually dependent, the stresses of sustainability on both sides can cause misunderstandings.

How can festivals and filmmakers create a more perfect union? Erica shares five best practices for film festivals and the filmmakers who apply to them.

Read More

Inside Docs In Progress

Board2018.jpgDocs In Progress has welcomed five new board members and made selections for its 2018 officers. Jay Elvove has been elected Board President while Barbara Valentino will continue as Treasurer and Paige Smith Lee will continue as Secretary. While Laura Possessky completed her final term in December 2017, she will continue to attend board meetings as a non-voting member as Immediate Past President to help provide continuity lead board fundraising efforts related to our 2019 move to Alexander House. We are pleased to welcome new board members G.T. Keplinger, Dan Manatt, Bonnie Rich, Susan Winchell, and Doug Yuan. We also said farewell to Coley Gray who has served on the Board for the past two years.

Our contract teaching roster continues to grow. Michael Anthony has joined our team to teach the winter Intro to Documentary Production class. Olha Onyshko will teach our new Summer Camp for Seniors workshop at the Takoma Park Community Center which will help those 55 and over learn how to make short personal documentaries.

Learn more about our Board, Staff, and Teaching Artists   

News From Our Community


In Memoriam
We were saddened to hear the news that Flo Dwek passed away recently. She and her husband Eli have supported Docs In Progress as donors and enthusiastic screening attendees for many years, and she also wrote film reviews and interview-based articles for Women in Film and Video's website and newsletters. As just one example, see her 2016 interview with Vanessa Gould on Obit which reminds us, to borrow Flo's own words about that film that every person leaves behind a legacy which is challenging to capture with only rudimentary tools called words.  

Peer Pitch Alum To Premiere in Competition at SXSW
2016 Peer Pitch alum TransMilitary will makes its World Premiere in the Documentary Feature Competition at the SXSW Film Festival. At a time when transgender people are banned from serving in the U.S. military, the film follows four of thousands of transgender troops risking discharge fight to attain the freedom they so fiercely protect. Congratulations to filmmakers Fiona Dawson, Gabriel Silverman, and Jamie Coughlin. The film also recently received completion funds from Frameline.

Funding for Docs In Progress Community Members
Gabriella Garcia Pardo (2017 Fellow) received grants for Gunpowder Women from the International Women's Media Foundation's Reporting Grants for Women's Stories, and from Filmmakers Without Borders. Ramona Diaz (2016 Documentary Inspiration Award recipient and current fiscal sponsoree) has been awarded a Breakthrough Filmmaker Award from Chicken & Egg Pictures and development funding for a new project from the IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund. Yi Chen's (2017 Fellow) work-in-progress with the working title Chinese American Voters Project has been awarded the Southern Documentary Fund Filmmaking Grant. Bill Doorley (Peer Pitch alum) received an Artist Opportunity Grant from the Pittsburgh Arts Council to bring on an editing consultant for The Remarkable Journeys of Dr. Warden

Filmmaker-in-Residence Project Continues to Gain Traction
Andre Perez (2017 Filmmaker-in-Residence) reports that America in Transition has been awarded the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund from Voqal, and the Adán Medrano Legacy Award from the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture. An episode from the series will screen at MIT in Cambridge, MA and Birmingham Southern University in Alabama. Learn more.

In the News
Homelessly in Love (Roundtable Alum) was recently featured in the Washington Post. Carla Brown (2017 Fellow) talked about Everyone But Two: The Life, Love & Travel of Benjamin and Francis Graham on the Hey, Jen Cooper podcast.

Beyond Docs In Progress
The following Docs In Progress alums reported on some exciting new projects and accomplishments. 2013 Fellow Nitesh Batra co-produced Rainbow Fields which is the first feature film from the northeastern Indian state of Assam to be released commercially in the U.S. Work-In Progress alum Jeff Arak recently co-produced Life on Parole, which aired on PBS Frontline. 2014 Fellow Amy Oden produced a four part digital series LEAD for Maryland Public Television about an unconventional approach to the policing of drug users in Baltimore. Piper Hendricks has started a new Global Mentorship Program through p.h.balanced films to support women wanting to use film and storytelling to advocate for the issues most important to them and their communities. Sean Tracey (Work-in-Progress alum) produced a short film, Good Men, featuring actors Ed Asner and Mark Rydell, which successfully launched another film, Senior Entourage, with Asner, Rydell, Marian Ross, and Helen Reddy, for which Tracey was Associate Producer.

Other Upcoming Screenings by Alums and Community Members
February 8: Sheila Walker's Familiar Faces/Unexpected Places: A Global African Diaspora at UN Headquarters in New York, NY RSVP by February 5.
February 14: Sam Hampton's Change in the Family at Dance Place in Washington DC. (See more details in blurb about DC Independent Film Festival below)
February 22: Leon Gerskovic and Erica Ginsberg's Creative Feds at the Corner Store in Washington DC. Find out more.

Alumni Films Available
American Feud (Work-in-Progress Screening alum): Originally released in 2008, this film about liberalism and conservatism has been updated all the way up to the election of Donald Trump, providing much of the backstory for American politics today. Learn More
City of Trees (Focus Group alum), he award-winning documentary by local filmmakers Brandon and Lance Kramer of Meridian Hill Pictures is now available on DVD through major online retailers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Rosenwald (Work-in-Progress Screening alum): This historical documentary focuses on businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald and his work building schools in the South during the Jim Crow era. Learn more.

Alums: Don't be left out! Send your news via our new online form. The Spring Newsletter will be published in April. Deadline to submit updates for consideration is March 31.

Other Happenings in the World of Documentary

State of the Documentary Field Survey Launched - CMSI and IDA are Looking for Your Feedback
The Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI), in association with the International Documentary Association have  launched the 2018 State of the Documentary Field Study, a comprehensive survey of documentary professionals. The data will help our field identify needs and opportunities, track trends over time, and plan for the future. It is crucial to have as many voices and experiences reflected here as possible--this will be the most comprehensive source of data and insight about our dynamic field, from the perspectives of documentary filmmakers of all backgrounds. The results will be released at the 2018 Getting Real Conference. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete. Click here to participate in the survey.

Discounts for Docs In Progress Community at DC Independent Film Festival 
The DC Independent Film Festival kicks off on February 14. On Valentine's Day, show the love for Docs In Progress' own Sam Hampton as he opens the festival with a screening of his latest film Change in the Family at Dance Place in Brookland (3225 8th Street NE Washington DC). There will be a pre-film reception at 3:30 pm and the film begins at 4:00 pm. The festival will feature a number of other documentary programs including the Really Real Documentary Shorts program and a screening of This is Congo on Saturday, February 17 at the Naval Heritage Center. There will also be seminars on distribution, financing, and documentary filming in conflict situations, as well as a drop-in legal clinic. Docs In Progress community members can get into documentary screenings for only $8 and into seminars for $11 by using the code DOCS2018. Additionally founding board member Barbara Corprew has made available a free ticket to Change in the Family. That ticket will go to the first person to contact Erica Ginsberg at erica AT docsinprogress DOT org. See the full schedule at 

Southern Circuit Seeking Submissions
Southern Circuit is now accepting submissions for the 2018-19 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. This is an opportunity for filmmakers with feature films to tour their films through the southern United States, earning screening fees and travel expenses paid. Docs In Progress alums which are on the circuit now with this program include Big Sonia and Deej. Find out 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 Spring Newsletter will be published the first week of April. Deadline to submit updates for consideration is March 31.

Upcoming Funding, Lab, and Pitch Deadlines and Opportunities

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

February 5: Creative Capital

February 9: ITVS Open Call

February 11: IF/Then Short Doc Pitch - Southeast Asia (Tribeca Film Institute)

February 15: Sundance Documentary Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship

March 2: ITVS Digital Open Call

March 5: Goethe-Institut World Cinema Fund Production Grant

March 15: The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists 

March 18: Vision Maker Media — Public Media Content Fund

April 1: IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund: Production Grant

April 16: Movies That Matter

April 30: Roy W. Dean Film Grant

Rolling Deadlines

Sundance Documentary Fund
Fledgling Fund
The Bertha BRITDOC Documentary Journalism 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.

Sundance Documentaries Were First-Rate, But That Doesn’t Mean They’re Coming to Theaters (IndieWire)

A Place at the Table: Doc Filmmakers with Disabilities on Building Careers and Disproving Stereotypes (Documentary Magazine)

True crime and the rise of the docudrama (Johns Hopkins University HUB)

Documentaries Are Losing the Theatrical Game, But Don’t Despair Yet (IndieWire)

Notes on Quotes (Or, The Problem of Quotation, Authorship and Authority) (Filmmaker Magazine)

A Slate of Marble: Matthew White on Protecting the Raw Material for Docs (Documentary Magazine)

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?


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. Learn more about us.