Developing Your Doc: Finding the Money & Prepping for Production

Prepare for the road ahead when shooting your documentary film and get the funding to finish it.

6:30–8:30pm (Classroom 3)Note: This is a 3 part class (6 hours)

There is an abundance of stories, issues and people to make a documentary about; to actually complete and finance a feature film is less common. Fundamental to succeeding is starting with a doable, marketable, and captivating treatment, and a proposal that accurately represents your project. The aim of this course is to prepare you for the road ahead, by giving you a step by step plan from start to finish to prepare your materials and raise money for your film.

The instructors, Stephanie Ching and Ellen Martinez (After Spring, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2016), will provide an overview for developing an idea into a feasible action plan ready to go into production. They'll cover:

Budgeting. – Learn what to include in a realistic budget for each stage of production.

Fundraising. – Different techniques to raise money for your film and how to decide which types of funding are the best fit for your project. The course will cover grant writing tips, crowdfunding, investors, in-kind corporate donations, and working with a production company.

Pitching. – Details on creating pitch materials, visual samples (spending money to make money) grant applications, and writing a treatment. By showing examples of treatments and visual samples Steph and Ellen will show you what worked for them and specific ways you can tailor your application to have the most success while fundraising. 

Pre-production. – Practical aspects of pre-production: basic legal, business, safety, and production/post-production tips.

Steph and Ellen were recently selected for the 2018 IFP Project Forum and are currently in development on their next projects.  


This class is part of ClassWork Film Track: DocumentaryTake four documentary film classes for $490 (regular price) or $390 (IFP / Media Center members).


What You Will Learn

  • How to make a realistic budget and what to include for each stage of production.

  • Different fundraising techniques; types of funding.

  • What materials you should have for a pitch.

  • Practical aspects of pre-production: basic legal, business, safety, and production/post-production tips.

About the instructor

Ellen Martinez & Steph Ching

Ellen Martinez & Steph Ching

Steph and Ellen Co-Directed and Produced After Spring, a feature documentary about the Syrian refugee crisis. The award winning film was Executive Produced by Jon Stewart and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016. It has since screened at over 100 film festivals in 15 countries. After Spring premiered on STARZ in February 2017.

Ellen and Steph are recipients of the Frontline award for excellence in documentary journalism and are MacArthur foundation grantees. They are experienced in international production and received exclusive access to film After Spring at the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, 7 miles from the Syrian border.

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