Industry Insights

  • A Comprehensive List of the Top Tools in Documentary Filmmaking

    Posted by · June 18, 2014 11:05 AM

    by V Renée

    Getting started in documentary filmmaking is a lot like getting started in narrative filmmaking — most of the time you’re just picking up gear that is cheap and readily available to you. But, if you’re looking to find out what the pros are using, PBS’s POV, the longest-running showcase of documentary films on TV, asked working documentarians about the tools and equipment they used in their projects. Continue on to check out an infographic — a comprehensive equipment list of the cameras, lenses, microphones, and post-production software (and more) used by the pros.

    Buying or renting gear is a major commitment. I know that when I first started out, I wrestled over what equipment to buy, because when you’re using every extra penny to purchase or rent, you don’t have the luxury of “trying stuff out”. So, knowing what other working filmmakers are using takes out much of the vetting process that most of us can’t afford in the beginning.


    POV asked 147 filmmakers, including directors, producers, cinematographers, and editors with varying levels of experience about what they used to make their films. Probably one of the most pressing questions any of us had when we first started out was, “Hey, what’d you shoot that on,” and that’s the first question POV answers — what cameras are being used in doc filmmaking?

    DSLRs, because of their size and portability, are definitely an industry favorite. However, the Canon C300, which has a similar form factor, is still the camera of choice for most documentarians — narrative filmmakers are also known to use it (the Palme d’Or winning film Blue is the Warmest Color used two of them).

    Choosing a microphone is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in terms of gear. Sennheiser mics, namely the MKH 416, make up 54% of what documentarians use in the field, followed by Zoom products (H4n). Being the owner of both a Sennheiser and H4n, the great sound of the Sennheiser makes for great formal interviews, while the H4n performs well in the field.

    Check out the infographic to see what kinds of NLEs, color correction software, accessories, and a bunch of other tools documentary filmmakers are using. (Be sure to take a good look at “Other Equipment Filmmakers Love” — a lot of good tools you might’ve not thought to use. Thanks to Matías for sending this our way!)

    Read more at No Film School.

  • The Film Grant Where You Win Even If You Lose

    Posted by · June 18, 2014 6:55 AM


    The Roy W. Dean Summer Grant is now accepting applications.  Deadline is June 30th.  The winner receives $30,000 in film goods, services, and funds to get their film started or completed.  The grant seeks short films, documentaries, features, or series that are unique and make a contribution to society. 

    Now, in its 22nd year, the cash portion of the grant has increased to $2,500 this year.  New donor this year is G-technology.  Winner will receive a 4TB G-Drive.  Other donations include a $1,295 scholarship to Writer’s Boot Camp, $500 in tape stock from Edgewise Media, $1,000 in marketing materials and consultation from Smart Girl Productions.  

    But, if you don’t win, you still end up ahead.  Each applicant gets a consultation from Carole Dean, president of From The Heart Productions, author of the bestselling- book, “The Art of Film Funding”.  With over 20 years’ experience judging films, mentoring filmmakers, and helping films get funded, she will give the applicants advice on improving their story, their pitch, and their project.  

    Application and guidelines at

  • Ten things every filmmaker should know about distribution deals

    Posted by · June 10, 2014 11:21 AM

    Ten Things Every Filmmaker Should Know About Distribution Deals

    By Dan Schoenbrun, Filmmaker Magazine Blog

    I'll be blogging this week from the 2011 IFP Filmmaker Labs, which are in their third and final session at 92Y Tribeca. Things kicked off this morning with a sobering discussion about sales and rights, led by Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul author Jon Reiss. Alongside the other lab leaders, Reiss stressed that filmmakers should always use a sales agent and/or lawyer when structuring contracts. But even with these professionals on your side, it's still absolutely essential that filmmakers have at least a basic familiarity about how deals work, in order to avoid common pitfalls and stay informed.

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  • 10 Tips to Closing the Deal

    Posted by · May 31, 2014 12:00 PM

    10 Tips to Closing the Deal

    By Suzanne Lyons

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  • Money Talks And Art Matters

    Posted by · May 31, 2014 11:57 AM


    By Graham Taylor

    Graham Taylor, one of the top dealmakers in packaging and brokering distribution deals for independent films, gave a lively keynote speech at the Los Angeles Film Festival. 

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  • How Much to Reveal in a Fundraising Trailer

    Posted by · May 31, 2014 11:31 AM


    By Fernanda Rossi

    Q: Should my trailer reveal the entire narrative arc of the story (where it's headed) or focus only on the premise and characters?

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  • Digital Distribution Tips

    Posted by · May 31, 2014 11:29 AM

    By Orly Ravid

    You get it: Digital distribution is the future and the future is now. What you probably don't get is exactly what that means, because... well, no one understands it. Not entirely, not yet. Too many players, too many moving parts, too much in flux. However, there are a few ideas--seven, to be exact--that you can act on now.

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  • Packaging For SAG Ultra Low Budget - Can It Be Done?

    Posted by · May 31, 2014 11:28 AM

    In the last few case studies in our Myth Busters series, we've looked at films in the $1-$5 million range. But what about films in the ultra low budget range ($250K or less)? Most people argue with me 'til the cows come home that at these low budget levels, name cast are impossible. 

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  • The Right Way to Approach Crowdfunding

    Posted by · May 31, 2014 11:27 AM

    By Shilpi Roy for Film Independent

    Peter Broderick, the president of Paradigm Consulting and a guru of the digital distribution revolution, was on hand to moderate a panel about crowdfunding at the 2011 Film Independent Forum. He brought with him the masterminds behind two highly successful crowdfunding campaigns; the team for I AM I an indie narrative written and directed by Jocelyn Towne, and Nick Lewis, co-director of the soccer doc, Rise and Shine: the Jay Demerit Story. Ready to start soliciting money from people you know and people you don't? These tips come straight from the experts!

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  • Tips on Platforms and Services for Selling Your Film By Sheri Candler and Orly Ravid for The Collaborative Blog

    Posted by · May 31, 2014 11:23 AM

    By Sheri Candler and Orly Ravid for The Collaborative Blog

    These tools and services are either ones that were used by filmmakers in the book Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul or ones that we reached out to for support of the book because we believe in what they're doing.

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