The Documentary Filmmaker’s Roadmap is a concise and practical guide to making a feature-length documentary film—from funding to production to distribution, exhibition and marketing. Using her award-winning film Musicwood—a New York Times Critics’ Pick—as a case study, director Maxine Trump guides the reader through the complex lifecycle of the documentary Film. Her interviews with lawyers, funders, distributors, TV executives and festival programmers provide a behind-the-scenes look that will assist readers on their own filmmaking journey.
Written from the perspective of a successful documentary filmmaker, the book covers mistakes made and lessons learned, a discussion on the documentary genre, crowdfunding, pre-production through post, test screenings, the festival circuit distribution, legal pitfalls, fair use and more. Perfect for documentary filmmaking students and aspiring filmmakers alike, this book emphasizes the skills needed to succeed in a competitive production market. An appendix includes useful web links for further study, a list of films for recommended viewing and sample release forms.
This concise guide is ideal for the classroom or as a quick reference out in the field, at a budget meeting or in the editing room.
Table of Contents
1. Research: Choosing Your Story
- Archive or Third-Party Materials
3. How to Choose Documentary Genres
7. Social Media and Print Assets
9. The Edit
10. Case Study - Cartel Land Edit
11. Copyright Law, Third-Party Material, Archive
12. Brain Trusts, Test Screenings, and Outreach
13. In Conversation with: Fork Films Funder; Women Make Movies Distributor; DOC NYC Festival; PBS POV Television Strand Exhibitor
15. Distribution (or Selling and Income)
17. Press and Marketing
18. TV and Streaming
19. In Conclusion
- Useful Links
- Film Festival Short List
- 100 Documentary Films
- Release Forms
About the Author
Maxine Trump got her start in radio and television, working for seven years in development and commissioning for BBC Comedy in the UK. She emigrated to the US in 2003 to become a director of television commercials and has received both Gold and Silver BDA awards for her work. She went on to direct short documentaries and TV shows for various networks including TNT, the Sundance Channel and Discovery.
"Imagine that someone who has already successfully navigated challenges you are about to face gives you a magic playbook: a thorough, focused, and generous guide you can consult at every forking of the road. For documentarians, Maxine Trump’s The Documentary Filmmaker’s Roadmap is that playbook."
—Bruce Sheridan, Chair, CILECT North America; Documentary Director (Spellbound: The Split End Story; Perfectly Frank) and Producer (Head Games; Our Blood Is Wine)
"I wish I had had this book at the beginning of my career. It tells you all the questions you need to be asking in every step of your filmmaking process and helps you answer them, too."
—Liz Nord, Documentary Filmmaker; Editor-in-Chief of No Film School