How To

Stacy Schoolfield's film Jumping Off Bridges was successfully self-distributed.

Prepping Your Film For Distribution


Picture this! By some miracle to end all miracles, born of equal parts luck and blind determination, you’ve managed to rise above the never-ending barrage of questions from “concerned” friends and family who’ve always thought your talk about making movies was reckless. You’ve put together a cast and crew, refined your script, found some financing… Read more »

St. Lowery's first feature-length film, St. Nick, premieres at SXSW this month.

Finding Your Festival


With thousands of film festivals worldwide, and new ones added every year, it has become increasingly challenging for new and emerging filmmakers to tackle the options. For many independent filmmakers who, more often than not, find themselves scraping every last penny just to make it through post-production, the unfortunate reality is that gaining an actual… Read more »

A screen shot of the archival footage from Vance vs. Judas Priest used by filmmaker Van Taylor for his doc, "Dream Decievers."

Beg, Borrow, or Steal? Deciphering Fair Use for Filmmakers


David Van Taylor first engaged questions of Fair Use when he was working on his film Dream Deceivers in 1990, a documentary that explored the lawsuit filed against the heavy-metal band Judas Priest by the family of James Vance, a teenager who tried to commit suicide after smoking marijuana and listening to the group’s lyrics…. Read more »

A doctor's office (Photo by striatic).

Health Insurance for Artists


As freelancers, many members of the creative community — writers, artists, and filmmakers — often struggle to find the best health insurance for themselves and their families. Since artists typically do not work as employees, they are not eligible for insurance through a company. And it’s not always an option to tag onto a partner’s… Read more »

L.A. garment worker Lupe addresses the crowd at a rally in "Made in L.A."  Photo credit by Joann Lo.

Party Like a Doc Star


Filmmakers increasingly need to seek funds from as many sources as possible. A fundraising party may seem like a fun way to raise much-needed dough, but they are a lot of work.  Still, securing the right host, making a personal connection to the guests, and laying the groundwork for future “asks” can have pay-offs far… Read more »

Take a Trip, Make a Film: A Look at Study-Abroad Programs


When it comes to taking filmmaking classes abroad, the question is not so much “Why?” as it is, “Why not?” As anyone with a passion knows, procrastination and perfectionism are barriers to creativity, and they can become all the more pernicious when you’re stuck in an unchanging daily routine. You tell yourself that some day… Read more »

The Doc Doctor's Anatomy of a Successful Film: "Divan"


About this new column: Many filmmakers ponder in anguish, How do other people—celebrated people—do it? Am I taking too long to make this documentary? Does everybody spend as much money as I am spending, or am I spending too little? And when filmmakers share their lessons learned in interviews in the glossy trade magazines, their… Read more »

The Many Meanings of “Fair Use”


So your documentary has commercial interest and high revenue earning potential. And you’ve secured all of the agreements, releases, and licenses for the film, except for one piece of vintage footage that’s not quite in the public domain (material which can be used freely by anyone because it was created before 1923), but it’s “pretty… Read more »