Author: Fernanda Rossi

Internationally renowned author and story consultant Fernanda Rossi has doctored over 300 documentaries, scripts, and fundraising trailers including the 2009 Academy Award® nominated The Garden by Scott Hamilton Kennedy and the 2007 Academy Award® nominated Recycled Life by Leslie Iwerks. In addition to private consultations, lectures, and seminars worldwide, she has served as festival juror and grant panelist. Ms. Rossi shares her knowledge and research of story structure and the creative process in columns and articles in trade publications. She is also the author of the book Trailer Mechanics: A Guide to Making your Documentary Fundraising Trailer.

Articles Written by Fernanda Rossi:

The Doc Doctor’s Anatomy of a Film: “Kiran over Mongolia”

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 »

Multiple Endings

Dear Doc Doctor: My documentary has three potential endings. How do I choose one? False starts, fake endings, such are the tricks that storytelling—and life—plays on us. But it’s important to remember that endings are choices, even when documenting real events. If your story is conflict-driven, the ending will come shortly after the resolution of… Read more »

Making it on public TV

Dear Doc Doctor: How can I get my work onto public television? There are many doors into the labyrinthine world of public television. Some are open to you as a producer sans project, others are open to your project. Gustavo Sagastume, vice president of programming at PBS, explains: “PBS is not a network. Even though… Read more »

Is it okay to bring my kids to along when I’m shooting?

Dear Doc Doctor: I’m a cinematographer, and I just found out that I’m pregnant. Should I tell people? I can’t afford to lose any jobs right now. Pregnant or not, people will make decisions about what you can or can’t do. Camera work, because it is an especially physical job, often requires women—petite, pregnant, or… Read more »

I’m short of footage. Way short.

Dear Doc Doctor: I’m in my first week of editing, and I have this horrible feeling that my 100 hours of footage won’t be enough even for a short. How can I stretch my film beyond the short format? Most likely you are suffering first week editing jitters rather than a real short versus long… Read more »

Do I need a business plan?

Dear Doc Doctor: I’ve been asked for a business plan for my documentary. I thought those types of things were only for fiction films. Do I really need to write one? Documentary makers are finally seeing the effects of the recent growth of the documentary market. It’s a unique moment in history. Similar to independent… Read more »

Affordable post-production

Dear Doc Doctor: In the post-production phase, technology becomes so complicated—there are so many options. Any suggestion on what’s the best format with which to master my film while still being affordable? Remember when there was only one way of doing things? When you would happily leave the working print at the laboratory’s door and… Read more »

What if nobody “gets” my film?

Dear Doc Doctor: Nobody seems to like my film—they say it’s unclear and hard to follow. Why aren’t they getting the story? If people are “not liking your story,” you have to accept it. If people are “not getting your story,” you have to work on it. Knowing the difference… as priceless as a packed… Read more »

Budgeting for archival footage

Dear Doc Doctor: How can I calculate how much archival footage I’ll need for my film, and how much it will cost? Predicting how much archival footage you will use is like looking at those optical illusion drawings—you have to squint your eyes for it to make sense. But first, get a pen and paper,… Read more »

Making a documentary abroad

Dear Doc Doctor: I’m planning to make a documentary abroad. Am I better off bringing my own crew or hiring there? Making films outside the United States is sometimes clouded by the enthusiasm of being able to mix work and pleasure in an exotic remote location. But gathering the right crew can determine the ratio… Read more »