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Show Notes

Ep 120
full swing

00:00:00 - 00:35:00

In this interview with producer Paul Martin about the Netflix series "Full Swing," he explains that the show follows golfers throughout the PGA Tour season and their struggles to compete with the new Saudi-backed league called "Liv Golf." Martin credits the success of "Drive to Survive" with making it possible to create a show like "Full Swing" and notes that the show is just as dramatic and emotional as shows like "Drive to Survive," even though it doesn't involve high speeds and crashes. The show did a good job of capturing the drama, conflict, and emotions of the sport, while also showcasing golf as a fantastic sport. Martin also discusses the challenges of covering a golf event for the show, finding the balance between character development and sporting payoffs, how the editing process takes around 16 to 18 weeks per episode, and the impact of golf on some players' lives. Martin discusses the structure of their team, their upcoming projects, and how Netflix is collaborative and trusts the production team to make the shows they want to make.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, Chuck Braverman interviews producer Paul Martin about the Netflix series, Full Swing. Martin initially worked for Box to Box, a UK-based company that produces F1. Braverman, who used to film car races, expresses his enjoyment of Full Swing after becoming a recent golf enthusiast. The show follows golfers throughout the PGA Tour season and its struggles to compete with the new Saudi-backed league called “Live Golf.”

  • 00:05:00 In this section, producer Paul Martin explains that the idea for "Full Swing" came from a producer named Chad Munn, who had been wanting to make a documentary series about life on the PGA for years. Martin credits the success of "Drive to Survive" with making it possible to create a show like "Full Swing" and credits Netflix for allowing them to bring the show to life. Initially skeptical about getting involved in the project, Martin changed his mind after spending time in the world of professional golf and realizing how interesting and open the golfers were about their struggles. Martin says that the show is just as dramatic and emotional as shows like "Drive to Survive," even though it doesn't involve high speeds and crashes.

  • 00:10:00 In this section, producer Paul Martin speaks about the revolution that has been taking place in golf and how it couldn't be ignored when creating the show. The idea of players being offered contracts and disrupting the sport gave the show a level of conflict that typically doesn't happen in golf. The PGA was initially hesitant to allow live coverage of this revolution, but ultimately understood that it was necessary for the show. The logistics of filming the show were a challenge due to the lack of archived footage in golf, but the crew eventually figured it out with a few small crews at each event. Overall, the show did a good job of capturing the drama, conflict, and emotions of the sport, while also showcasing golf as a fantastic sport.

  • 00:15:00 In this section, producer Paul Martin talks about the challenges of covering a golf event for the Netflix show "Full Swing" and how the entire world of golf stepped up to help. He notes that the impact of Netflix's "Drive to Survive" on Formula One was so great that it radically changed the conversation around doing these types of shows, making it much easier to get them off the ground. He also mentions that the logistical challenges of covering the Tour de France for the next show would be tough but the American audience needs a show that explains what the Tour de France really is. Most of the show is not from NBC, CBS, or the Golf Channel, with only a relatively low percentage being on-course coverage.

  • 00:20:00 In this section, producer Paul Martin discusses the behind-the-scenes process of filming golfers during tournaments for the show "Full Swing." Martin explains that about 80 percent of the footage used in the show is their own, while the rest comes from networks like CBS and NBC. He also speaks about the challenges of finding the perfect balance between character development and sporting payoffs from the perspective of a viewer. When asked about the amount of footage shot for each episode of the show, Martin explains that it is difficult to estimate, but the show's editing process typically takes around 16 to 18 weeks per episode. Regarding Netflix's involvement in the show, Martin characterizes the streaming service as collaborative and states that notes and editorial decisions are a part of the production process.

  • 00:25:00 In this section, the producer of the "Full Swing" series discusses his experience working with Netflix and how they trust the production team to make the shows they want to make. He also talks about the challenges they faced in getting golfers on board for the show, as they are a less malleable personality type and already have a lot of money. Additionally, the producer mentions how the show portrays the golfers as laid back despite the amount of money they earn, and how they tried to find the stakes and tension in golf despite it not being a life and death sport like Formula One.

  • 00:30:00 In this section, producer Paul Martin discusses the impact of golf on some players' lives and how it defines who they are as individuals. He explains that for these players, a golf swing is not just a part of their game, but it encompasses everything they have achieved in their life, every friendship they have had and every positive relationship they have built. Martin moved to producing documentaries from game shows, and the transition was not easy. He drew upon his love for sport and his connection with people in the sports world to make the transition. Martin explains that in the UK, they use the role of producers as directors, and this is because the role requires someone who can maintain relationships with players, agents, and other technical crews. It's simply not logistically possible for a singular vision director to be across the entire show.

  • 00:35:00 In this section, producer Paul Martin discusses the structure of their team and how they usually don't use singular directors for their projects but rather a group of producer directors. He also mentions their upcoming projects, which include a four-part non-sport series for Apple, a three-part ESPN project, and potentially more of their popular series like "Drive to Survive." Martin also notes that Box to Box has around 40 full-time employees in London and is starting to build up their LA office. Finally, the host commends Martin and the team for creating a series that's not just for golf enthusiasts and congratulates them on a successful production.

Ep 119 


00:00:00 - 00:25:00

In a recent interview, director Daniel Roher discusses the making of his documentary about Russian politician Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned while challenging President Vladimir Putin. Roher explains how the success of the film has changed his life but also admits to feeling guilty as Navalny is currently in solitary confinement and being tortured. The director shares the challenges of making the film and the loss of his production company, as well as the dangers faced by Navalny as a journalist speaking truth to power in Russia. Roher hopes that the film's Oscar nomination will bring attention to Navalny's cause and eventually allow him to see the film.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, Chuck Braverman introduces the director, Daniel Rohr, and talks briefly about the Real Screen Summit before going into his previous work with the band documentary, Once Were Brothers. Chuck praises the film as one of the best overall and musical documentaries of all time, and asks how Daniel managed to get famous names such as Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer, and Ron Howard to sign on as executive producers. Daniel attributes this to Robbie Robertson calling up his friend Scorsese and asking for his help, followed by being one of the first documentaries under Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's new company, Imagine Documentaries.

  • 00:05:00 In this section, the interviewer discusses the director's background history and how they got involved in film. The director explains that he is a Jew from Canada, and that he studied at an art school in Toronto before leaving to pursue his passion for making documentaries. The director mentions that they made a few short films that got some attention in Canada before securing their breakthrough by making the Robbie Robertson project, which led to the creation of Navalny and changed their life. The interviewer then shows the trailer of Navalny, a documentary about Russian politician Alexei Navalny being poisoned while challenging the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

  • 00:10:00 In this section, the director of the "Navalny" documentary discusses how the film's success has changed his life and allowed him to have more options for his next film, but he also feels guilty as Alexey Navalny is currently in solitary confinement and being tortured in prison. The director talks about how Navalny wanted to go back to Russia despite the risks and that it wouldn't have been a good idea to try to talk him out of it. He also discusses his relationship with Navalny's wife and the challenges they are facing with his imprisonment and torture.

  • 00:15:00 In this section, the director Daniel Roher shares how he got involved in the film about Alexei Navalny. Roher and his producers were in Vienna after being asked to leave Ukraine while working on another film when they found themselves interested in the poisoning of Navalny. They reached out to him and were able to pitch a film project that he agreed to. The filmmaker also shares how CNN got involved with the project, explaining that they were the only ones with the courage to take on the government when others were too afraid. This fear from the big industry players is also what the Russian government wants to happen, he adds.

  • 00:20:00 In this section, director Daniel Roher discusses the loss of the production company, Intrepid investigative films, which was a crucial part of making the film. He praises the executives at CNN Films for their smart and supportive notes. Roher then talks about the post-production process, which included editing the film in secrecy and using encrypted hard drives. He highlights the excellent work done by the film's editors and discusses the lesson he learned about accepting other people's ideas. Roher admits that he worries for his colleagues' safety and acknowledges that the Russian government is targeting some of the film's subjects. However, he takes solace in the fact that the Russian Security Services are not as competent as one might expect.

  • 00:25:00 In this section, director Daniel Roher discusses the danger that Alexei Navalny faces as a journalist speaking truth to power in Russia and the disappointment of not being able to attend the BAFTA ceremony due to security risks. He expresses mixed feelings about the excitement surrounding the Oscar nomination, as it is tied to Navalny's suffering in a gulag. Roher sees the nomination as an opportunity to bring attention to Navalny's cause and hopes that he can eventually see the film.

Ep 118 

stranger at the gate


00:00:00 - 00:25:00

Director Josh Seftel discusses his documentary film "Stranger at the Gate" with Chuck Braverman, explaining how he found the story of a small mosque in Indiana that showed compassion and forgiveness to a man who planned to bomb their mosque. Seftel was inspired by this story of hope and wanted to share it with the world through his series of short films about American Muslims. He also discusses the making of the film and the challenges of capturing real interactions in a verité style without using recreations. The film features aerial shots and utilized a shoestring budget. The editing process took around seven months and utilized the talents of the editor to bring out the story through sound design and language. Seftel explains how the use of percussive sounds and editing restraint in the film helps to capture the gravity of the real-life story without making it feel superficial.

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  • 00:00:00 In this section, Chuck Braverman interviews director Josh Seftel about his short documentary film "Stranger at the Gate" which made it onto the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shortlist. The film tells the true story of a small mosque in Muncie, Indiana that showed compassion, forgiveness, and grace to a man who showed up at their door with tattoos all over his arms, a Marine tattoo, and skulls on his arms. The man had come to do a reconnaissance mission and blow up the mosque, but the kindness he received from the congregants changed his mind. The film is just under 30 minutes and is a story of hope.

  • 00:05:00 In this section, the director of "Stranger at the Gate" explains how he found the story of the mosque in Muncie, Indiana and how it inspired him to make a film about it. He was feeling hopeless about the state of the world when he stumbled upon the story of the congregation of the mosque who changed the course of what was supposed to happen by connecting and building a bridge with their enemy. He saw this act as an immense display of hope and wanted to share it with the world through his series of short films about American Muslims, the Secret Life of Muslims. The director also discusses how the members of the mosque served as inspiration for the film and why he believes their actions demonstrate a message of peace and kindness that could benefit the world.

  • 00:10:00 In this section, the director explains how a Muslim mosque came to be in Muncie, Indiana, despite it being an unlikely location for one. The community was largely formed through the presence of Ball State University, which attracts many international students and scholars. This community is the focus of Seftel's film, "Stranger at the Gate," which tells the story of a man who planned to kill members of the mosque. The film is available on the New Yorker channels and on YouTube for free because Seftel wanted the message to reach as many people as possible. The members of the mosque knew that Seftel was Jewish, but they welcomed him and his team with open arms, creating a familial atmosphere on the set.

  • 00:15:00 In this section, the director Josh Seftel talks about how the success of his documentary Lost and Found on public television and its nomination for an Emmy made him realize the power of filmmaking to effect change, an achievement he initially wanted to pursue through Doctors Without Borders. He borrowed a Hi8 video camera, which he was told wouldn't work, but it did, and suddenly everyone was shooting Hi8 films. While Lost and Found led to the American adoption of thousands of Romanian children, most of his works have small but positive effects on the world. Stranger at the Gate has the potential to do some good in the world too, and the New Yorker has been a great partner that has acquired some of his documentaries over the years, including the current one. Funding for the current doc short came from financiers and donations, and it was acquired by the New Yorker quickly after the director brought them a near finished film.

  • 00:20:00 In this section, the director discusses the making of "Stranger at the Gate" and the challenges associated with making a documentary film without utilizing recreations, as they wanted to capture moments of interaction between the director and subjects in verite style interviews. The film also features aerial shots, which give the viewers space to imagine the story themselves, and were filmed on a shoestring budget, with a drone that their DP already had. The editing process took around seven months and utilized the talents of the editor to bring out the story through sound design and language.

  • 00:25:00 In this section, the interviewer and Josh Seftel discuss the use of percussive sounds and editing restraint in the film "Stranger at the Gate." Seftel explains how these elements contribute to capturing the tension and gravity of the real-life story without making it feel too light or superficial like a Disney movie. The interviewer thanks Seftel and wishes him luck with the Oscars.

Ep 117 

38 at the garden

00:00:00 - 00:30:00

In a recent interview with the director of "38 at the Garden," Frank Chi,  discussed his background working for Barack Obama's presidential campaign and his transition to documentary filmmaking. Chi also shared the inspiration behind his film, focusing on the night Jeremy Lin scored 38 points at Madison Square Garden, and how the film addresses the stereotypes and cultural exclusion Asian people have faced in American society. The film has received positive feedback and is accessible to all viewers as it is only 38 minutes long. Chi emphasizes the importance of defying stereotypes, taking control of one's life, and learning from the experiences of others.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, the director of the short film "38 at the Garden," Frank Chi, discusses his background and how his political experience led him to documentary filmmaking. He shares his story of working for Barack Obama's presidential campaign and his transition to filmmaking, specifically to create stories that are true through documentary filmmaking. He also touches on the origin story of his film, which focuses on a moment when society told a group of people they couldn't do something, and how someone shattered that notion.

  • 00:05:00 In this section, the director of the documentary "38 at the Garden," Frank Chi, talks about the birth of the idea for the film, which centers around the night that Jeremy Lin scored 38 points at Madison Square Garden. He discusses the three parts of the film, which focus on breaking stereotypes, shattering them on a world stage, and the weaponization of those stereotypes against Asian people. Chi states that as an Asian American, the night that Jeremy Lin rose to fame was an act of belonging for him, just like Barack Obama's election. He also talks about the struggles of fitting in as an Asian American in a society that does not always include or represent them.

  • 00:10:00 In this section, the director, Frank Chi, discusses the stereotypes and cultural exclusion that Asian people have faced and continue to face in American society. He explains that these stereotypes are unfortunately still rampant in American media, and Asian people have had to become accustomed to not seeing themselves represented as heroes in mainstream media. However, he shares that Jeremy Lin's success and the impact of the movie Linsanity broke through this psychological hack that Asian people had created to survive in this country, breaking the seal for many within the Asian diaspora. Chi also speaks about the process of convincing Jeremy Lin to participate in the documentary, given that he is still pursuing an active basketball career, emphasizing the urgency of meeting the moment and addressing the stereotypes that still exist.

  • 00:15:00 In this section, the director discusses how the movie was not solely about Jeremy Lin, but the sense of doubt that anyone can relate to. The movie has received feedback from people who feel they have been doubted in their work life, and it has given them the confidence to take their shot at the right moment. The movie showcases how to confront stereotypes and take control of your life. The director shares how the funding for the movie was raised independently, and things did not always go smoothly with investors. The NBA had been in good conversation with the producers, and they recognized the inspiring story that could help the league's PR. Finally, Lisa Ling's involvement helped push the movie out since she has stayed involved in the project even after her interview.

  • 00:20:00 In this section of the interview, director Frank Chi talks about the serious topics covered in the film and how they had comedians and serious commentators to provide commentary. He highlights the importance of Lisa Lane's contribution in the film as she provided a unique perspective on the effect of stereotypes on society and how they turn into anti-Asian violence. Chi also details the timeline of the project from its inception in 2020 to submitting to Tribeca in May 2022. He reveals that the initial amount raised independently was $120,000 and that the NBA footage costs a lot. Despite the tight budget, the film looks very professional and was a testament to their hard work.

  • 00:25:00 In this section, director Frank Chi discusses the process of working with the NBA and how they were appreciative of the cooperation they received. He also talks about sticking to the "script" for the documentary and how people who understood the vision helped put the film together. Chi hints at his interest in making films about belonging and defying the odds and how experimentation is important after completing a project like "38 at the Garden." The editing process was quick, taking only a couple of months, and Chi talks about learning from the fast-paced and specialized work of people in the film industry.

  • 00:30:00 In this section, director Frank Chi explains that one of the reasons they made the film a short documentary is to make it more accessible to viewers. They wanted to give people no excuses not to watch it, and by making it only 38 minutes long instead of 90, they achieved this goal. The film provides both an opportunity to relive the famous 2012 Knicks vs. Warriors game and to gain a deeper understanding of the experience that Asian Americans had to go through in order to celebrate and live that moment. Chuck Todd summarized the film perfectly when he said that people might come for the basketball but stay for an education.

Ep 116 


00:00:00 - 00:45:00

Filmmakers Melissa Lesh and Trevor Frost join Chuck Braverman on Westdoc Online to discuss their documentary, Wildcat. The film follows the story of an ocelot rescue named Keanu and his journey to redemption in the Amazon jungle. The filmmakers discuss the difficulties they faced filming in the rainforest and the importance of sound design and collaboration in filmmaking. They also touch on the transformative power of nature and their desire to showcase the intelligence and emotional depth of animals. The filmmakers reveal the challenges they faced during the editing process and their hopes for the film's success on the festival circuit and beyond. Ultimately, the filmmakers hope to promote positivity and uniqueness while embracing differences in people's lives.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, Chuck Braverman hosts Melissa Lesh and Trevor Frost, the filmmakers behind the documentary feature film Wildcat, on an episode of Westdoc Online. Braverman commends the filmmakers for creating a spectacular, emotional, educational and entertaining film that he regards as one of the major contenders for an award. The episode features a trailer for Wildcat which tells the story of Keanu, an ocelot rescue, and his journey toward redemption both for himself and his handlers in the jungle.

  • 00:05:00 In this section of the video, the filmmakers talk about how their wildcat documentary came to be. The director of photography had been in the Amazon jungle taking pictures for a National Geographic article when he met Harry Turner, a war veteran who had gone to the jungle after suffering from PTSD. Turner and his girlfriend, who was a scientist and conservationist, showed the filmmaker videos of their work with rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife. Impressed by the quality of cinematography and the footage of their work, the filmmakers decided to make a short film focusing on an ocelot rescued by the couple. However, when they received word that Turner and his girlfriend were rescuing more cats in the Amazon, they decided to follow the journey in real-time, which resulted in 13 trips and about 200 days spent in the jungle.

  • 00:10:00 In this section, the filmmakers discuss the difficulties of traveling to and filming in the rainforest, including the long hikes, muddy trails and limited resources in terms of equipment. They kept their gear lean, having only two cameras and their phones with them. The film was shot in 1080 rather than 4k because of the challenges of handling such large amounts of data and battery consumption. Despite this, the film quality was excellent, with great sound quality due to the use of ambisonic microphones. The filmmakers also partnered with Harry and Samantha to produce the film, with exclusive footage shot by them, which turned out seamlessly in the final product.

  • 00:15:00 In this section, the filmmakers of a Wildcat documentary discuss the importance of sound design in creating an immersive experience for the audience. Their sound designer, Lawrence Everson, went to the Amazon and recorded an incredible full spectrum rainforest soundscape using ambisonic microphones. The goal was to create a seamless and raw quality that makes you feel like you're there in the rainforest, experiencing the effects of its healing potential. They also talk about their love for nature and how they bonded with other like-minded individuals when they went to remote spots on the Earth.

  • 00:20:00 In this section, the Wildcat documentary filmmakers discuss the experience of shedding societal norms and simply being present while in the Amazon rainforest. The lack of Wi-fi and cell service during their time there allowed them to focus solely on the experience and the people around them. The film, which centers around the healing power of nature, also delves into the connection between humans and wild places, using Harry's story as an example.

  • 00:25:00 In this section, the filmmakers discuss the transformative power of nature and the exploration of trauma in their documentary. The documentary initially started as an exploration of the beauty of nature and the impact it has on our brain chemistry. However, as the filmmakers grew in their journey, it transformed into an exploration of trauma and how it shapes us to be who we are, ultimately allowing us to do great things. The film touches on the struggles of depression, anxiety, and autism and how instead of assimilating into the world, we should be embracing differences and entering a new way of being. It is a film with multiple entry points and promotes positivity and uniqueness in people's lives.

  • 00:30:00 In this section, the filmmakers of the Wildcat documentary emphasize the importance of viewing animals as intelligent beings in their own right rather than measuring their intelligence against human standards. They note that our limited scientific understanding of the animal world means that there may be animals that are smarter and more emotionally intelligent than humans. They also discuss the collaborative nature of filmmaking and how each team member brought their unique perspective, leading to a film that weaves together different themes and ideas. The filmmakers also share insights into the film's funding and production process, which involved being turned down by multiple networks and investors before finally securing support from 30 West, an equity partner and sales agent for the film.

  • 00:35:00 In this section, the filmmakers discuss the process of editing the documentary and how they were able to pitch it to streamers. They reveal that Amazon came on as a partner, which allowed them to increase their budget from around $1.7 million. The filmmakers also talk about their positive experience working with Amazon and how the company gave them creative freedom during the editing process. The documentary will be released in theaters on December 21st and will be available for streaming on Amazon Prime on December 30th worldwide. The filmmakers also express hope that the documentary will make it to the shortlist for the Academy Awards.

  • 00:40:00 In this section, the filmmakers discuss the challenges they faced during the editing process of the documentary, including having to cut down over a thousand hours of footage from seven different cameras. They praise the work of their associate editor, Mallory Bracken, who spent four years transcribing and categorizing every single clip, and became an integral part of the team. They also discuss the importance of having a good team, and mention that directors often receive too much credit, as these projects are truly a collaborative effort. Additionally, Melissa, one of the filmmakers, shares her experience of not going to film school but learning how to edit and shoot on her own, and how she became disillusioned with the Fine Art world before finding her passion for documentary filmmaking.

  • 00:45:00 In this section, the filmmakers discuss their decision to pursue a project documenting crocodiles in Northern Australia instead of pursuing a Master’s degree. They also reveal that Nat Geo had initially turned their project down when they pitched it in 2019 due to their limited budget, but they eventually won a bidding war against Amazon and Netflix to distribute the completed film. The filmmakers credit their partners' expertise in shaping the final product, and express gratitude towards distributor National Geographic for their scientific approach in selecting scenes to present to different distributors.

Ep 108 

moonage daydream

00:00:00 - 00:50:00

Brett Morgen, the producer, director, and writer of Moonage Daydream, discusses how his film is not a traditional biographical music documentary but rather an experiential film that offers a narrative that is not necessarily biographical. He also talks about how his interest in documentary filmmaking was sparked by his class on ethnographic film at Hampshire College, where he was introduced to the history of documentary films, and how he later embraced non-fiction filmmaking. Brett Morgen also shares his experience making his other documentaries, such as The Kid Stays in the Picture and Montage of Heck, and his thoughts on the economics of documentary filmmaking. Finally, Brett Morgen discusses how he had a heart attack and was inspired by David Bowie's approach to life, balance, and mortality during his recovery.

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  • 00:00:00 In this section of the interview, Chuck Braverman introduces documentary filmmaker Brett Morgen, who recently directed an IMAX film called Moonage Daydream about the legendary musician David Bowie. Brett shares his experience of watching the film in various environments and expresses his delight at its current showing in the IMAX room of the Chinese Theater. He also comments on how impressed he is with IMAX's support of non-fiction films, which he considers an unusual choice for a global launch.

  • 00:05:00 In this section, Brett Morgen discusses his film "Moonage Daydream," and clarifies that while it is a documentary, it is not a traditional biographical music documentary. Instead, it is an experiential film that offers a narrative but is not limited to biographical storylines. Morgen notes that genre plays an important role in managing audience expectations with art and that the film's position as a psychedelic musical experience requires a different filter than other biographical films. When asked about how much of Bowie was his actual self versus a showman, Morgen believes that an artist cannot divorce themselves from their art, and that Bowie's art was a reflection of him, as he invited the audience to participate in his performances.

  • 00:10:00 In this section, Brett Morgen, producer, director, and writer of MOONAGE DAYDREAM, discusses how he separates the identity of David Jones from David Bowie and how he thinks art inherently reveals truth. He also shares his background, including his love of cinema, growing up in Studio City, and how his severe speech impediment led him to seek refuge in films. Morgen credits his time at the American Film Institute and Jim Hosny, his film criticism, and film theory teacher as transformative, which led him toward the path of becoming a filmmaker.

  • 00:15:00 In this section, Brett Morgen describes how he switched from fiction filmmaking to documentary filmmaking. He recounts his experience in a class on ethnographic film at Hampshire College in which he was introduced to the history of documentary films, including the work of Robert Gardner and Timothy Ash. Morgen discovered that subjective montage could reveal a deeper and more elevated truth, leading him to pursue non-fiction filmmaking. This realization influenced his approach to making Moonage Daydream, creating something that presents an intangible feeling that cannot be received through traditional sources of information.

  • 00:20:00 In this section, Brett Morgen discusses how he came to embrace non-fiction filmmaking and how it was supported by Barbara Koppel and Chris Choi at NYU. He also reveals his interest in exploring the aesthetics of non-fiction and using the medium to bring subjects to life or to expose certain truths about them. Morgen shares that he met Nanette Bernstein at NYU and the two dated for three years. During that time, he was developing a non-fiction adaptation of Friday Night Lights, which he intended to be his thesis film, and Nanette started boxing at the Bed-Sty Boxing Center.

  • 00:25:00 In this section, Brett Morgen, the producer, director, and writer of MOONAGE DAYDREAM discusses his early career and the making of the documentary called "On the Ropes" which he created with his then-girlfriend, Nanette Burstein. The pair had previously considered making a movie together on the topic of basketball but decided against it, thinking that it was too close to the 1994 film, "Hoop Dreams." They decided instead to make a documentary about three aspiring boxers in Brooklyn. The filmmakers approached the project with a strong commitment to sound design, recognizing that non-fiction films could benefit from the same techniques used in fictional films. Through living with the subject matter and forming meaningful relationships with the characters, the film became a success and helped uplift one character in particular, Noel Santiago, who left the projects in Brooklyn and achieved success in mortgages, training, and acting while supporting a loving family of his own.

  • 00:30:00 In this section of the transcript, Brett Morgen discusses the economics of his film Moonage Daydream and mentions that he did not make any money from it. He also talks about how the film The Kid Stays in the Picture, his follow-up film, was a success and still generates revenue, but he has not received any royalties from it. Morgen then shares about how he got involved in making a film about Bob Evans, and how that project almost fell through due to legal complications.

  • 00:35:00 In this section, Brett Morgen discusses the making of his film, "The Kid Stays in the Picture," and his approach to the subject, Robert Evans. Morgen talks about the dialogue within the documentary community regarding objectivity and subjectivity and how his film addresses these issues through the use of one person's voice to create an entire film. He notes the success of the film at its opening and its later acquisition by HBO.

  • 00:40:00 In this section, Brett Morgen, producer, director, and writer of Moonage Daydream discusses how he did not receive any profits from the sale of the DVD rights to Warner Brothers, despite being a part-owner of the film. He mentions that he and the other owners were naive and happy to enter the DGA. Morgen also touches on the making of his film, Montage of Heck, a documentary about the musician Kurt Cobain. Recording Love approached him in 2007 with the treasure chest of artwork from Cobain, which most people did not know about. The film's structure was inspired by Bob Fosse's Lenny, using interviews to give the context and keeping it very intimate with only a few people. Morgen discusses not including Dave Grohl in the film as he wanted to resist the temptation to take it away from its primal and intimate nature.

  • 00:45:00 In this section, Brett Morgen, the producer, director, and writer of Moonage Daydream discusses how he crafted the interviews to feel like the subjects were pouring their hearts out for hours. He achieved this by introducing the idea of going from day to night throughout the interviews, which is difficult unless the film is already edited. He also talks about incorporating proper lighting for each interview and how it works to match the film's ending where everyone is in the shadows. Additionally, Brett discusses his recent heart attack that happened when he was making his previous film and how he did not want to promote this film due to health issues. However, he agreed to do press for the film and talked about his heart attack because it was relevant to the movie.

  • 00:50:00 In this section, Brett Morgen discusses how he had a heart attack and woke up from a coma, immediately feeling the need to be on set for an important Marvel pilot. After realizing his work had consumed his entire life and left him without balance, he started listening to David Bowie's music and was struck by the artist's approach to life, balance, and mortality. Morgen believes Bowie's life provided a road map for leading a fulfilling life, and he wanted to leave behind that message for his children. The fact that Bowie's themes dealt directly with aging and mortality resonated with Morgen during his recovery.

Ep 104 


00:00:00 - 00:45:00

In this YouTube video entitled "Bitterbrush" two women filmmakers are interviewed about living on a ranch in rural Idaho. They discuss pre-production work, the importance of audio, equipment used for recording, editing, and the funding process. The filmmakers also touch on topics such as seasonal work in rural America and the dangers of horse-breaking, while also sharing their experience with physical and post-production and creative freedom in crafting the film. Finally, the documentary is available on VOD and other platforms like Amazon Prime and Apple TV Plus.

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  • 00:00:00 In this section of the video, Chuck Braverman introduces two guests, producer Su Kim and director Emily Mahdavian, who discuss their new film called Bitterbrush. Emily explains that she was living in a remote cabin in rural Idaho when she got involved in the project, and Su talks about her background as a post-production supervisor and how she became involved in producing films. They also briefly discuss their work on other films, including the critically acclaimed Hale County This Morning, This Evening.

  • 00:05:00 In this section, two women filmmakers are interviewed about their project called "Bitterbrush," a documentary film about two women living on a ranch in rural Idaho. Emily Thomas, the director, wanted to make a film that explored the transformative experience of living close to the land and with women. She met Holland at a neighbor's house and was struck by her wit, interesting personality, and excellent job skills. Su the producer, was fascinated by the idea of documenting female friendship in a male-dominated world and wanted to learn more about the western lifestyle. Both filmmakers had a background in documentary filmmaking and were curious about exploring new topics. Before filming started, they spent time getting to know each other and their subjects.

  • 00:10:00 In this section, the filmmaker discusses how a film that appears observational is usually not completely unstructured, but rather, it is planned to some extent. The filmmaker explains that they did not just hang around waiting for something interesting to happen, but instead did a lot of pre-production work to have a clear idea of what they wanted to capture. The film deals with our relationship to the land, the state of family farms, and the characters' personal concerns. This planning created room for allowing certain moments to emerge and be adjusted if needed, but it was not an entirely unstructured process. Finally, the interviewer asks about a dolly shot in the film, which took a long time to set up, and the filmmaker discusses how the shot was captured.

  • 00:15:00 In this section, the filmmakers discuss the technical aspects of shooting on horseback, including using a small gimbal to stabilize the camera, as well as the stunning shot that was captured. They also mention the surprise of one of the characters announcing their pregnancy, a topic that was relatable to the filmmakers as co-director, Emily's, pregnancy coincided with the making of the film. Additionally, the filmmakers share how they achieved high-quality sound recording despite the crew being far away by using wireless microphones and a device called Zach's cams.

  • 00:20:00 In this section, the conversation is about the equipment used for recording audio during the documentary production. The Zaxcom ZFR 300 is mentioned as recording straight onto its own pack even though it cannot transmit, which is useful when there are long distances between the crew and the subjects. The importance of audio is highlighted, and sometimes there are surprises during post-production where the audio enriches the scene. The director talks about the low shooting ratio and the unpredictable aspects that were hoped for, such as snow to mark the end of the season. Finally, the possibility of using GoPros for alternate perspectives is discussed but ultimately not purSud.

  • 00:25:00 In this section, the director mentions the process of editing and how it is not recommended for a director to edit their own films. She admits to making a first pass of the edit and then bringing in a feature scripted type editor, Curtis Clayton, to refine certain subtleties adding some fiction sensibilities of characterization. When it comes to the music used, she reveals her preference to edit without any distractions from music to help her find the perfect cut, only bringing it in once she is happy with her editing. The director also spoke about how they got the financing for the film, including partnering with Synetic and Magnolia for distribution.

  • 00:30:00 In this section, the filmmakers discuss the funding process for their documentary, Bitterbrush. They received initial support from the Catapult Film Fund for pre-production and research and development, and were able to keep costs low in the beginning to work with freedom. They later applied for additional funding and obtained support from Concordia and Wavelength. The filmmakers finished the film during the pandemic, navigating a remote workflow for post-production. They also touch on the budget for the film, which was low and included cinching in the belt in ways that may have impacted the quality of the film, but allowed for the freedom to experiment and craft something special.

  • 00:35:00 In this section, the filmmakers discuss their experience with physical and post-production and how it allowed them to plan things in a way that cost a lot less than the traditional way of doing things. They also talk about the creative freedom they had in making the film and how it was an expression of an idea rather than being attached to movie stars or a massive social isSu impact campaign. The director talks about shooting the film by herself with a Panasonic EVA camera and relying on the sound to be taken care of by the self-regulating Zax's mics. The conversation then shifts to the difficulties of shooting alone and getting the muscle memory right, especially if the director is only occasionally picking up the camera. They also discuss the horse-breaking sequence in the film and how time was compressed cinematographically during the scene.

  • 00:40:00 In this section, the conversation discusses the training process of horses and how it can be portrayed as brutal from an outsider's perspective. The documentary team wanted to show the real work that went into training a wild horse and the dangers that the women faced while doing so. The stakes are high as the relationship between the horse and the person could go wrong, leading to potential injuries for both parties. The documentary is now available on VOD and other platforms like Amazon Prime and Apple TV Plus.

  • 00:45:00 In this section, the speakers briefly touch on the topic of seasonal work in rural America, acknowledging that it may not persist in the long term. They conclude the section by thanking Chuck and the audience.

Nuisance Bear, Episode # 80 is about Polar Bears roaming around a small town in Canada. Here is a NY Times story about the town where the filmmakers shot their film. Nov. 5, 2021.


Episode #69 documentary short film 13 minutes  "Hysterical Girl" can be seen here.


Episode # 65 "The Truffle Hunters" is supposed to be released in theaters March 5th, 2021


Episode # 64 "Belushi" by R.J. Curler can now be seen on Showtime.


"My Octopus Teacher"(episode # 63) is a film I stumbled upon while doc searching on Netflix. I have recommended it to dozens of people and have yet to get any feedback besides, "We all loved it." 


Episode # 62 is about the feature documentary "Time" which is now available on Amazon Prime. And here is a story in the Los Angeles Times about the making of the film with many more details revealed. 


Episode # 61 To see the film go to or LACPUG You can no longer see the film as it has been blocked by legal papers filed by British filmmakers. See the story here.

It appears (Jan 1, 2021) that the film "Coup 53" is available again now on the Laemmle Virtual Cinema site here. Important film. Take a look. 

Episode # 58 with AMPAS Oscar official Tom Oyer was recorded on May 28th, 2020. I held it for several weeks hoping to redo it because I felt the quality of the audio was not good. As time slipped away, it felt more important to get the new info out to filmmakers rather than trying to reschedule with Tom. 

A couple of days after we recorded episode #53 with the Pahokee filmmakers Patrick and Ivete, she gave birth to their first child, June.



Episode # 51

As part of the conversation with Barry Avrich, he mentioned some of his other films that are now available for viewing. So I took a look at "The Reckoning" on the Hulu network. This doc is the first about Harvey Weinstien and the MeToo movement. This is a gutsy, strong, and very disturbing well made film. Here is a link to the trailer;  Also just got a chance to watch Barry's bio doc on David Foster on Netflix. Very impressive work with lots of super stars including Streisand, Celine Dion, Michael Buble, and more. Take a look. 

Episode # 50      Alex Gibney

Filmography (as director)[edit]

Episodes # 44 and 45 are about feature films that just made the Oscar short list. The Academy has two branches; Feature docs and shorts ( 40 minutes and less). "Fire In Paradise" is our episode # 44 with Co-Director Drea Cooper. This is an amazing doc that could have been so so, but Cooper and his team made it great. Their interviews with the survivors of the blaze are emotional and moving and the video they acquired and integrated into their film is dramatic. The film is available now on Netflix.

"Apollo 11" is another film that could have been just ok, but the producer, director, editor, Todd Douglas Miller made it spectacular. He obviously has a very talented team at his Brooklyn based production company and they did years of research and found never before seen footage of the space voyage and put the film together as a dramatic moving story. In addition they figured out how to scan and up-res 50 year old 16mm and 35mm film footage to 4k making it look like it was shot last week on an Alexa. They also discovered some 65mm footage that had been sitting in storage for five decades. (This film is available now on Amazon.)

We are very proud that we were able to pick out and produce episodes on four of the chosen Oscar short list. Here is the feature doc short film list and where you can see the films;


"American Factory" Netflix
"The Apollo" HBO
"Apollo 11" (ep # 45) Hulu
"Aquarela" Amazon
"The Biggest Little Farm" Hulu
"The Cave"
"The Edge of Democracy" Netflix
"For Sama" (ep # 35) Kanopy and PBS Frontline
"The Great Hack" Netflix
"Honeyland" (ep # 36) Amazon
"Knock Down the House" Netflix
"Maiden" Amazon
"Midnight Family"
"One Child Nation" Amazon

This is the short list of doc shorts and where to watch;

"After Maria" (Netflix)
"Fire in Paradise" ( ep # 44)  Netlfix
"Ghosts of Sugar Land" (Netlfix)
"In the Absence" (
"Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)" (
"Life Overtakes Me" (Netflix)
"The Nightcrawlers" (
"St. Louis Superman" (Soon on MTV Documentary Films)
"Stay Close" (
"Walk Run Cha-Cha" (

Our Episode #42 interview with PBS Executive Producer Lois Vossen of Independent Lens was very comprehensive and revealing. Lois has been running the show since it started over a decade ago and they produce 22 new documentaries every season. If you can get on the Independent Lens bandwagon, it's the best deal in town as they pay fair (and sometimes better than fair) and the filmmaker gets to keep the copyright of the film! Not too many other networks are allowing that unless you bring in most of the budget from the outside. To find out what the budgets are for the hour and feature docs, take a look at the full episode. You may be surprised. We run clips from the new season and some of the titles are; Bedlam, Rewind, Always in Season, and Made in Boise. 


Today, November 11, 2019, The Hollywood Reporter has a story about the Critics Choice Documentary Awards ( Apollo 11 was named best doc and there is a substantial list of other docs in other categories that will give you an idea of the fierce competition ongoing for the Oscar nomination.


The International Documentary Association just announced their nominations for the best docs of the year. Of the ten docs nominated, Westdoc Online has already produced episodes on three of the nominees. Episode #35 features the directors of "For Sama." #33 is with the director of "Sea of Shadows." And #36 is with the directors of "Honeyland." Take a look. 


Episode 41, Avi Belkin. To say that I have been lax in keeping up with these show notes, would be a gross understatement. I just posted episode #41 and am still amazed by what I learned from director Avi Belkin. This young man came to America from Israel three years ago with two ideas in his head. He wanted to make a documentary about the status of broadcast journalism and he knew about a murder in a small town called Skidmore in Missouri. It's still not completely clear how he did it. But with the help of a couple of producers, he ended up producing and directing two really terrific films. "Mike Wallace is Here" is a razor-sharp biography about the former "60 Minutes" correspondent that is in theatrical distribution with Magnolia Pictures and will eventually air on Hulu. If you are not of a certain age, you probably didn't know that Wallace had a long career as a commercial pitch-man, game show host and an actor before joining CBS News. Turns out he was just as human as all of us as we learn about his severe depression and his regrets about putting his career before his family. "No One Saw a Thing" is another doc, but it feels like a dramatic feature film that runs over multiple episodes on Sundance TV.  It's about the town bully and how 60 people witnessed his murder but no one saw a thing. Great films from a new rising director, Avi Belkin. (The film is available now on Hulu.)


Episode # 40, "Where's My Roy Cohn is available on Amazon;

Episode 15, Three Identical Strangers. When I first saw the description and the picture of this film in the Hotdocs catalog, I knew I had to see it. I missed it at Hotdocs but went to a screening at the Motion Picture Academy that had  a Q&A with the director, Tim Wardle. At the end I introduced myself to him and told him about the series and asked if he would be on the show. Fortunately we were able to work it out and the results are in the episode. He was very open, honest, and candid about the making of the film, There were earlier attempts to produce the story by other producers, but I think Tim's persistence and patience really paid off. Following is a story in the Los Angeles Times about the film. Spoiler alert; I would not read it until after seeing the movie;

New rules just released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for next year's documentaries. You can find them here. If you are producing a doc short, here is the link  to the list of festivals that will qualify you for entry instead of having to book your film in a theater in LA and NY. 

Episode 11 is about the Hot Docs International Film Festival. I have traveled to Toronto several times and each time I come home inspired by all the great new docs I saw and the new ones coming down the road. Within Hot Docs they have "The Forum," which is a two day pitching event. Each producer team is given about six or seven minutes to pitch in front of an audience and a panel of international buyers. They show a clip from their new documentary and the panel comments on why this new film might or might not work for their network. It is great to see all the films that will be in theaters or on tv a year from now. And they sell about 125,000 tickets to half a dozen theaters in the ten day festival period. If you make documentaries and want to go to the biggest doc festival in North America, this is the one.  

Episode 10 is about The Making of "Shot In the Dark." A terrific new series on Netflix. It is about "stringers," or freelance news cameramen. Truth be told, I was very interested in this subject because I supported my self through school as a stringer. I had the police and fire department radios in my car and at home. I loved the adventure and adrenaline rush and was learning how to shoot and what was needed by the tv stations for a good story. A couple years ago my son Max suggested I produce a show based on stringers so I contacted one of the better known guys who told me he had a pending deal with another company. So I went on to something else. And probably a good thing as I think that these guys made a great show that captures much of the rush and feelings that are going on in the middle of the night while most of us sleep. Try and catch the show on Netflix and then watch this ep. 

Episode 9 is all about money and how to get grants. I had an epiphany recently about us filmmakers. I think there are two kinds. The kind that pitch shows to networks, and the kind that are able to write grants and get their budget in dribs and drabs from various sources. I prefer getting one yes and a check to pay for the whole film. But of course, the devil is in the details and this method often comes with some serious drawbacks. If someone is paying for the entire budget of your documentary, they may want to influence you about how to make and or cut the film. On the other hand, grant money usually appears with few restrictions. Either way, take a look at this episode to see how some people are financing their projects and what is best for you. 

Episode 8 is a one on one interview with the Oscar winning Frank Stiefel who produced, directed, and shot the doc short "Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405." (    Password is "mindy."  Frank had no networks, distribution, or any major backing for his film. After the nominations, he worried about the big time corporate backers of the other documentaries. But he tells us how he pushed forward on his own. Here is link to Frank's first film Ingelore and the password is "ingelore1."

Episode 7 was difficult to book because I changed the date from Tuesdays to Wednesday a week before we went live. As it turned out I ended up with some great insights into the online business and the thinking behind these very talented online pioneers. I personally am amazed at the number of views that some people are getting on YouTube. Far more than most of the "television" networks. These guys seem to care more for the quality of their work and less about the gross number of viewers. Brandon Li logged in live from Hong Kong where it was 2 in the morning. Josh was in Oxnard, California, Erik Naso in San Diego, and Ton Antos was in NYC. 

Episode 6   Steve James produced, edited, and directed Hoop Dreams, winner of every major critics prize including a Peabody and Robert F. Kennedy Award.  Other award winning films include Sundance award winner, Stevie; IDA winning miniseries The New Americans; The Interrupters, which won an Emmy, Independent Spirit Award, and the DuPont Columbia Journalism Award; and the Emmy-winning Life Itself, named the best documentary of 2014 by over a dozen critics associations, including The Critic’s Choice Awards, The National Board of Review, and The Producers Guild of America. His most recent film, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, has earned James a fourth DGA nomination, won the “Best Political Documentary” by The Critics Choice Awards, and has been nominated for an Academy Award.  

Episode 5 is all about licensing clips for your documentary film project. We have a great expert panel starting with Lisa Callif who works with several attorneys including Michael Donaldson who literally wrote the book on Fair Use and intellectual property rights. If you have any project you want to sell to television or any major distribution, you will be required before release to have E&O (errors and omissions) insurance. And in order to get that you have to have an expert attorney in that area sign off on your film. This is what Donaldson and Callif do every day. Jason Teichman is the CEO of Pond5 and tells us about the inside workings of their stock footage organization that has much more than just footage. It amazed me when he said they upload about 10,000 new video clips every day! Steve Kozak is a clearance expert who worked on the Tonight Show for ten years and now is on the Jimmy Kimmel show. He started and is the head of AMCUP, the Association of Media Content Users & Providers. Jonathan Chinn is the partner with his cousin of Lightbox, a production company with offices in Burbank and London. They produced the Oscar short listed feature doc "LA '92" which is remarkable because the entire film is all from stock footage and there is no announcer telling you what you are watching. It was produced for the National Geographic Channel. 

We continue to solve some tech issues as others pop up. The audio and video on this show was better even though we were live from London, New York, and L.A. But the software running the program crashed causing us to restart and then pull together the two parts of the program. The best place to watch it is on our home page. 

Episode 4   An interview with the director Mari Bakke Riise and the complete 32 minute film

All the films that were nominated this year for an Academy Award in the Documentary Shorts category (episode 3 below) are well deserving and should be seen. One film that was seen as a favorite by most who saw it was "Kayayo." It tells the heart breaking story of a very young girl in Ghana who is used as a human shopping basket by other women in a town not close to her village. 

I was so confident that this short listed film would be nominated that I asked the director to be on Episode 3 live if she got the nod. And when she told me that she expected to be on national television in Norway and couldn't make our show, I pre-recorded an interview with her to put on the episode in anticipation of the nomination she did not receive. 


Here is that short interview recorded before the nominations with the director Mari Bakke Riise and instead of a two minute clip, I have been given permission to run the entire film.  Your friends can watch it here, or pay a very small rental fee at Vimeo on Demand at

And a big thanks to our sponsors for their continuing support. Media Central, Pond5, and Lummaforge. cb


Episode 2   January 9, 2018

RICHARD ABRAMOWITZ is an innovative leader with more than 35 years of experience in the distribution and marketing of independent films. His company, Abramorama, takes a personalized, focused form of film marketing and distribution that bypasses traditional film studios and their methodology, providing valuable distribution alternatives to content makers and owners.


Abramowitz’s many distribution projects include Ron Howard’s Grammy-winning documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years; Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty; Amir Bar-Lev’s definitive film on The Grateful Dead, Long Strange Trip; Laurie Anderson’s acclaimed Heart of a Dog; Peabody Award-winner Listen to Me Marlon; Banksy’s Spirit Award winner and Academy Award nominee Exit Through the Gift Shop; Sacha Gervasi’s Spirit Award-winning Anvil! The Story of Anvil; and Spike Lee's Oscar-nominated 4 Little Girls. He has been a consultant to Neil Young’s Shakey Pictures for more than 15 years and worked with Jonathan Demme from 1984 until his untimely passing in 2017.


Abramowitz was a co-founder of Stratosphere Entertainment, the independent distribution and production company financed by Carl Icahn. Previously, he was President/COO of RKO Pictures Distribution. Prior to that, as a senior executive at Cinecom he distributed films by Tom Stoppard, Volker Schlondorff, Mira Nair, John Salyes, Robert Bresson and Merchant Ivory, including the multiple Academy Award-winner A Room with a View.


Abramowitz is on the Board of Directors of the Jacob Burns Film Center and teaches at the film conservatory at Purchase College.

CRISTINE DEWEY is Managing Director of ro*co films International. She builds and maintains relationships with media buyers and acquisition executives around the world to ensure that our documentaries get the attention they deserve. She manages the international contracts and works collaboratively with filmmakers to maintain a long-term international distribution presence for each of our films.

Cristine joined ro*co in 2005 after several years of experience as a community activist. She has a B. A. in English from Carleton College and a professional back-ground in development and grants administration.

JONATHAN DANA has been a pioneer in the independent film business since 1971.  He served as Director of Acquisitions and Development at The Samuel Goldwyn Company, President of Motion Pictures and Television at Atlantic Releasing, CEO of specialized distribution company Triton Pictures, and is a long time executive producing partner with CODE Entertainment


Among other awards, his movies have won numerous prizes at both Sundance and Cannes. His films include dramas The Spitfire Grill, A World Apart, Patty Hearst, Extremities, Mindwalk, Stormy Monday, Palmetto, Noel, and Kill the Irishman; comedies Valley Girl, Teen Wolf, Night of the Comet, Wish You Were Here, Drowning Mona, Scorched, and You Kill Me; foreign language Soldier of Orange, The Hairdresser’s Husband, and Toto the Hero; and documentaries Ballets Russes, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse, Oscar nominee Colors Straight Up and his own directorial debut Sandstone (1975), recently profiled on CNN's The Seventies.  As producer's representative Dana’s credits include sleeper hit What the Bleep Do We Know, 2012 Spirit Award nominee We Were Here, and 2012 Sundance Audience Award winner and 2013 Spirit winner and Oscar nominee, The Invisible War.  He was executive producer of The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden, which premiered at Telluride 2014, and The Forger, starring John Travolta, Christopher Plummer, and Tye Sheridan, Toronto 2015.  He is currently Consulting Producer on music biodioc WAYNE SHORTER: Zero Gravity, in post production, extreme rowing doc LOSING SIGHT OF SHORE, now streaming worldwide on NETFLIX, and executive producing HALLELUJAH: IT GOES LIKE THIS, the story and times of Leonard Cohen's iconic anthem, now shooting. Dana was an initial investor and supervised the launch of the online indie film community, subsequently purchased as an operating division of Amazon’s IMDb. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and holds an MBA and a PhD from Stanford Business School.  He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Born in Israel, raised in Manhattan, and living in Los Angeles, Orly Ravid is the founder/co-executive director of the distribution non-profit The Film Collaborative (TFC) and an entertainment attorney at MSK (Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP). Non-profit on purpose, TFC specializes in distribution of documentaries and arthouse cinema without taking filmmakers' rights. TFC is proud to have included on its slate such films as The Invisible War(Sundance/Oscar-nominee), Unrest (Sundance), The Hunting Ground (Sundance), The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin (SXSW), More Art Upstairs (Hot Docs), The Last Laugh (Tribeca), For the Love of Spock (Tribeca), Tower (SXSW), A Suitable Girl (Tribeca),Racing Extinction (Sundance), to name just a few. TFC offers free educational resources and advice regarding distribution and provides distribution services including: sales/licensing, festival, theatrical and digital distribution, as well as fiscal sponsorship.  TFC recently co-published How Not to Sign a Film Contract: Know What You're Saying Yes To and co-authored and published the case study book series Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul.  Orly has a 17-year career in independent film as an acquisitions and business affairs executive, and her experience encompasses all aspects of distribution, domestic and international sales/licensing, development, production, grassroots marketing, and festival programming. Orly regularly speaks at film schools and on film festival panels about film distribution, new media, splitting rights, and entertainment legal issues, and is a passionate advocate for filmmakers.

Episode 3 was going to be chaotic and unpredictable. Because, up until 5:38 on the morning of the show, I didn't know who the guests were going to be. I was hoping to have some of the newly named documentary Oscar nominees but who knew who would get the nods from the Academy? So I picked the ones I thought would be the chosen ones and set up interviews on the premise that they would receive a nomination. Fortunately, I was mostly right. As it turned out, some of the feature doc directors were at Sundance the day of the Oscar noms and others weren't available. So I stuck with the shorts which are usually every bit as good and we got four out of the five new nominees. 

The biggest surprise of the day for me was the one short doc which I thought was a slam dunk to get a nomination and did not. And that was "Kayayo" the film by Mari Bakke Risse from Oslo, Norway about a young girl who is a human shopping basket in Ghana. If you click on the title of the film just above, the link will take you to their Vimeo page where you can watch the trailer and see the complete short on demand. It's a very strong film and worth taking a look. 

The four new short doc nominees we have on this episode were all charming, insightful, and informative about their film and the process of making a short. The best advice might have been from Frank Stiefel who told the story of his long career in the commercial business and it seemed like he was always waiting for permission to do something. And now, making his own documentary, he didn't need permission to start shooting. 



Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright


Frank Stiefel Oscar Winner


HEROIN(E) (available on Netflix)

Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon


Thomas Lennon


Kate Davis and David Heilbroner

Laura Checkoway's documentary short Edith+Eddie has won numerous awards including the IDA Documentary Awards Best Short 2017. The film is executive produced by Steve James and Cher. Her award-winning debut film LUCKY (also executive produced by Steve James) screened at festivals across the globe and premiered on television in 2014. With a background in journalism, Laura penned revealing profiles and investigative features for numerous publications and has authored acclaimed celebrity autobiographies.


Elaine McMillion Sheldon is a Peabody award-winning documentary filmmaker based in West Virginia. Her work explores universal stories of roots, survival, resilience, and hope. Sheldon is the director of "Heroin(e)" a Netflix Original Documentary short that follows three women fighting the opioid crisis in Huntington, West Virginia. In 2013, she released "Hollow," an interactive documentary that examines the future of rural America through the eyes and voices of West Virginians. Hollow received a Peabody, Emmy nomination and 3rd Prize in the World Press Photo Multimedia Awards. In 2016, Chicken & Egg Pictures awarded her with the inaugural "Breakthrough Filmmaker" award. Sheldon was a 2013 Future of Storytelling Fellow, and named one of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker Magazine and one of "50 People Changing The South" by Southern Living Magazine. She's a founding member of All Y'all Southern Documentary Collective. She has been commissioned by Frontline PBS, PBS NewsHour, Center for Investigative Reporting, New York Times Op-Docs, TEDWomen, People Magazine, Lifetime, Field of Vision, Mashable, The Washington Post, and The Bitter Southerner. She was recently named a 2018 USA Fellow by United States Artists.

Episode 1 December 5, 2018 - went off with a couple of tech issues at first, but once we got over the opening hump, the guests had great information to share about the race for the Documentary Oscars, both feature length and short. The scheduled moderator bailed out after his computer audio failed and Chuck filled in. Among other things discussed were some of the specific films that were hoping to qualify for the Oscar short list and we picked at least two of those chosen. Here is the Academy's press release later that afternoon for the 10 Oscar documentary shorts; And click here for the new short list of 15 feature documentaries. The nominations for all the Oscars will be announced Tuesday, January 23rd and we will be airing a live special that same day. Watch our first  program on our home page. Scroll down the page to the full video or watch just 90 seconds below the main video. 

Here is an interesting article from the Daily Variety on December 8th about the current state of Oscar campaigning. Pros and Cons of Oscar Campaigning.

Julie Goldman, Producer founded Motto Pictures in 2009. She is an Oscar nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer and executive producer of documentary feature films. Julie is producer of Life, Animated and executive producer of Weiner, both of which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Life, Animated won the U.S. Documentary Directing Award, was released by The Orchard and was nominated for the 2017 Academy Award. Weiner won the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize, was released by IFC Films & Showtime and was shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Award. Current releases include Steve James’ Abacus: Small Enough To Jail* and 2017 Toronto International Film Festival premiere The Final Year.  In 2016 Julie also produced and executive produced features including: The Music of Strangers, Indian Point, Solitary, Enlighten Us, Southwest of Salem and Chicken People. Previously, she executive produced Emmy Award winning Best of Enemies and several Emmy-nominated films: 3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets, The Kill Team, Art and Craft and 1971. Julie produced Gideon’s Army, Manhunt, the Oscar shortlisted God Loves Uganda, The Great Invisible, the Oscar shortlisted Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and Buck, which was Oscar shortlisted and one of 2011’s top five grossing documentaries. Julie consulted on the Academy Award-winning The Cove and produced the Oscar shortlisted Sergio. Julie is on the Board of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and a member of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

David Magdael, Publicist has more than 18 years of experience in public relations, strategic planning, development, marketing, community outreach and entertainment and media relations in North America, Europe and Asia. As founder and president of DAVID MADGAEL & ASSOCIATES, INC, Magdael continues to specialize in documentaries, indie films, directors, and public affairs.  From developing Oscar® campaigns to festival strategies to theatrical and broadcast press unit publicity, his company has emerged as an important entertainment communications firm boasting a client roster including numerous Oscar® winning and nominated documentary, animated and short films and festival standouts. Magdael’s firm works with all distributors, content creators and broadcast networks along with representing award winning directors including Morgan Spurlock, Justin Lin, Brian Knappenberger, Chris Perkel, and Lucy Walker, Jehane Noujaim, Kief Davidson, and others.  


Magdael is also a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and is the Co-Director for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival since 1997.  He serves as a mentor at the Sundance Institute Documentary Producers Lab and continues to share his expertise in panels and workshops at Sundance Film Festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), Full Frame Film Festival, Silver Docs, Hawaii International Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, AFI Festival Los Angeles, Ashland International Film Festival, Film Independent Forum, Visual Communications, Center for Asian American Media, San Diego Asian Film Festival, Los Angeles Asian Film Festival, San Francisco Asian Film Festival, Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), the International Documentary Association, Temple University Division of Film, The Documentary Summit at Columbia College of Film and others. 

*Short listed this year.

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