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:

How much should I hustle?

Dear Doc Doctor: My film projects and ideas are well-suited for public television. But as an independent filmmaker I can’t envision my work fitting into pre-formatted programs. Do I have any options besides just selling a finished film? To work for or work with—to give up creative control for the safety of a check, or… Read more »

Is it too late to edit myself out of this film?

Dear Doc Doctor: I think I made the mistake of putting myself in my film as the inquisitive filmmaker—as a woman, I’m not sure if the role really suits me. What can be done at this stage to save the film? Changing major structural and creative decisions once the film is shot is extremely challenging…. Read more »

Can I do without professional sound editing?

Dear Doc Doctor: Many people suggested that I add more narration and music to my documentary, which I did, but now other people are saying there is too much of both. How do I achieve the right balance between image and sound in documentary film? Before you figure out where others want you to be,… Read more »

Promoting your film

Dear Doc Doctor: All I can afford in terms of marketing my documentary is my Internet connection and email account. What’s the best way to use them? There was a time when nobody had an Internet connection. Spam was just canned meat and attachment was mostly used to describe a bond of affection. Ah! Remember… Read more »

How can I do this full time?

Dear Doc Doctor: I can’t wait for the time when I am able to be a full-time independent documentary filmmaker—it’s been really difficult juggling so many balls in the air. Is there any way to make the path quicker and smoother? It used to be that in this land of opp-ortunity, the American dream was… Read more »

Subtilting within reason

Dear Doc Doctor: Should I provide subtitles for the subjects in my documentary who speak Spanglish, or other "hybrid" languages in America? I heard sub-titled films are harder to distribute. Is it true? The world of languages and dialects can become quite complex in the United States, where so many nationalities converge. And it is… Read more »

Ask the Documentary Doctor

Dear Doc Doctor: Is a short film the obligatory starting point of a filmmaking career? If so, what can I do with it when it’s finished? It doesn’t seem to make financial sense to make a short. Some filmmakers start with a short either while in film school or out on their own, and that… Read more »

How to think about test screenings

Dear Doc Doctor: I have a fifteen minute cut of a one-hour documentary, and the editor and I are not sure about the main storyline and characters. Should I have a test screening? How many should I have? Even if you had a perfect fifteen minute opening and all you wanted was to practice your… Read more »

Should I script my documentary?

Dear Doc Doctor: I’m shooting abroad and want to make sure I don’t miss anything since I can’t go back to reshoot. Is there a way I can know the “story” or “script” of my documentary in advance? You would be better off investing your time in learning a meditation technique than trying to write… Read more »