Sometimes, making a film can be a solitary experience, but the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival folks have rounded up experts from across the country to discuss topics such as social media, marketing music scores, funding advice and distribution. This year marks the first time the BSDFF presents the Doc Shop as an event in itself with a full four days of workshops, presentations, panel discussions and a pitch session. The event kicks off Monday at noon at the Crystal Theater with a filmmaker panel.
Doc Shop sessions are expected to draw some 50 to 75 participants, said Noel Pederson, coordinator for the event. “It’s by far the most events that have ever been done. It’s kind of scary - it’s never been tested before, but it will work out.”
I caught up with Pederson Sunday night at the International Documentary Association party where music from Butter filled the reception area while film participants mingled, chatted and noshed on baked brie and strawberries.
Ben Fowlie, director and founder of Camden International Film Festival, stood among the party-goers, stopping here and there to meet with other film participants. He’s a juror for feature films and a moderator for the Doc Shop filmmaker’s panel. He enjoys the success stories where filmmakers have successfully funded a project simply by talking about it.
“Documentary film is a labor of love. You have to be willing to hound people you know within your social circle. In a lot of ways, this is where it begins. So much of this business is word of mouth and building a community around your project. With a lot of successful documentaries, you can find how they were traced back to organizations, local organizations, cultural organizations that helped connect them to people who were interested in funding a project.”
One thing is for sure, it’s a lot easier to make a film these days because of advances in technology. “We are also living in a time where people have concerns and want to express those concerns… the environmental film scene has exploded. A lot of people will get in film making realizing they may never make money from their film but they are happy with the opportunity to bring their film to a community and have a discussion about it, said Fowlie.
“Without these festivals like Big Sky Film Festival or Camden, films would have a harder time getting out,” he said. “It’s a matter of continuing the conversation.”
Filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen is carrying the conversation of documentary as a Doc Shop presenter. The Emmy nominated filmmaker is scheduled to give a presentation on using social media, distribution and making “tough but exciting decisions,” regarding film projects.
“A lot of the filmmaking process, editing and a lot of production work is done in isolation where filmmakers are far removed from other people,” said Cohen. “To have an event like this where folks can come out, get together and learn from each other and network is a remarkable opportunity. To do it at a festival as great as this one, to see a lot of good films and meet great people, is fun.”
The Big Sky Doc Shop takes place February 20-23, and offers documentary filmmakers opportunities for networking, discussion, and professional development, including workshops, panels, a round table discussion, product demos, and the annual Big Sky Documentary Pitch Session. Click here for the full festival schedule, or consult a program for details.
Doc Shop passes are available for $50, and are good for all Doc Shop specific events, workshops, pitch sessions, and discussions. All Access Industry Passes - available for $275 - are good for all Doc Shop events, festival screenings, festival parties, and special events.
Article by BSDFF Promo Team writer Jodi Rave