Jewish Journal

Doc U: The Doc Reporter, Navigating the Intersection of Documentary and Journalism

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With the contraction of traditional news reporting and journalism over the past decade, more people, as well as traditional media outlets, are turning to long and short form documentaries and those who make them to learn about and understand our world. What does it mean for documentary filmmakers if more and more, people equate “documentary” with “journalism?” When is a documentary filmmaker acting as journalist? What are the inherent responsibilities? Is calling yourself a “journalist” enough when it comes to legal protections and long established journalistic rights? What new opportunities, and challenges, are available as documentary filmmakers move into the spotlight of journalism and reporting, and recording history as it is happening?

Join David France (How To Survive A Plague), Sarah Burns (The Central Park Five), Michael Donaldson (Partner, Donaldson & Callif), and Karin Stellwagen (The Brooks Institute) for a discussion on the intricate balance between video journalism and documentary filmmaking.

Doc U is the International Documentary Association’s series of educational seminars and workshops for aspiring and experienced documentary filmmakers. Taught by artists and industry experts, participants receive vital training and insight on various topics including: fundraising, distribution, licensing, marketing, and business tactics.

For more information on IDA’s Doc U: documentary.org/doc-u

David France
Director/Producer David France is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. A former Newsweek senior editor known for his pieces bridging science and culture, his work has appeared in the New York Times and New York magazine, where he is a contributing editor, and has been recognized with a National Headliner Award and a GLAAD Media Award, among others. His three nonfiction books include Our Fathers, the critically acclaimed epic examination of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis. Several films have been inspired by his work, including the Emmy-nominated Showtime film Our Fathers, for which he received a WGA nomination. He is at work on a major new history of AIDS, due from Alfred A. Knopf in 2014. Based on decades of reporting, How to Survive a Plague—his directorial debut—has won the IDA’s Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Filmmaker Award, and the Gotham Award and New York Film Circle Critics award for first time filmmaker and best documentary, among others.

Sarah Burns
Sarah Burns is the author of The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding (Knopf, 2011) and, along with David McMahon and Ken Burns, the producer, writer, and director of the documentary The Central Park Five, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and earned the NYFCC award for best documentary. She is currently working on a film about the life and times of Jackie Robinson.

Sarah was born and raised in Walpole, New Hampshire. She graduated from Yale University in 2004 with a degree in American Studies, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, David McMahon, and their daughter.

Michael Donaldson
Michael C. Donaldson is an entertainment attorney who has been fighting for independent filmmakers for over thirty years. As President of the International Documentary Association, he negotiated with the cable networks to prevent the wholesale migration of credits from the screen to the internet by organizing and leading the Documentary Credit Coalition. He served on the Advisory Committee for the Documentary Filmmakers Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use and serves on the Advisory Committee of the Stanford Fair Use Project. He also serves as General Counsel to Film Independent (home of the Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival) and the Writers Guild Foundation. He negotiated with Media Professional Insurance Company to offer fair use riders on the E&O insurance policies which allowed many films to be made under the fair use doctrine. He helped draft Orphan Works legislation, as well as, the Rome Resolution to harmonize Fair Use across the European Union. He also helped the IDA file, argue, and win an exemption to the DMCA; allowing Documentary Filmmakers access to public domain material for the purpose of their documentary pursuant to fair use. In addition, he also wrote Clearance & Copyright, used in 50 film schools and winner of three national book awards. He is also the co-author of The American Bar Associations’ Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking.

Michael is an avid skier, world hiker, and award-winning photographer. He won a gold medal at the 1998 Senior Olympics for Parallel Bars and a silver medal on the rings.

Karin Stellwagen, moderator
Karin Stellwagen’s production experience includes national television series and cutting-edge video installations for major museums around the world. She graduated from USC with a Masters in Visual Anthropology and teaches documentary film production at Brooks Institute in Ventura, California. Credits include New Heroes for PBS, Hannibal for History Channel, Wright Brothers for PBS Nova, Rocket Challenge for Discovery, and Bataan Rescue for PBS American Experience. Karin served as production manager for world-renowned video artist Bill Viola, working on featured installations at major international museums including the National Gallery of England, Guggenheim, LA County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Getty Museum.




Event Price

General $20 IDA Members $15



Silent Movie Theatre
611 N. Fairfax
Los Angeles, CA 90036


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