What is the Documentary Lab?
Designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentary films, the Documentary Lab is an intensive seven-week program that runs in Los Angeles in March and April. The Lab’s focus is twofold: (1) provide creative feedback and story notes to the selected filmmakers; and (2) help filmmakers strategize the completion, distribution, and marketing of their film.
Additionally, the program serves to advance the careers of the Lab Fellows by introducing them to film professionals who can advise them on both the craft and business of documentary filmmaking. Lab Fellows have several guest-speaker sessions with established documentary filmmakers – directors, producers, and editors – and other industry professionals.
Film Independent membership is not required when applying to Film Independent Artist Development Labs. However, all participants accepted into the Labs are required to be Film Independent members.
Documentary Lab Fellows receive:
- A pass to the Los Angeles Film Festival (City Pass)
- Inclusion in the FIND Talent Guide
- Year-round support from Film Independent
Past Documentary Lab projects include: Grace Lee’s American Revolutionary; PJ Raval’s Before You Know It; Nicole Karsin’s We Women Warriors; Nicholas Wrathall’s Gore Vidal: United States of Amnesia; Hilla Medalia’s Dancing in Jaffa; Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix’s The Light in Her Eyes; and Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katy Fairfax Wright’s Call Me Kuchu.
Past Documentary Lab mentors include: Doug Blush (editor The Invisible War, director Of Two Minds); Laura Gabbert (Getting to Know You, Sunset Story); Caroline Libresco (Franci’s Persuasion, Sunset Story); Heather Rae (Frozen River, Trudell); Scott Hamilton Kennedy (OT: Our Town, The Garden); AJ Schnack (Convention, Kurt Cobain About a Son); Doug Pray (Art and Copy, Surfwise); Eddie Schmidt (This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Troubadors) and Ondi Timoner (We Live in Public, Dig!).
Past Documentary Lab guest speakers include: Dan Cogan (Impact Partners); Jeff Malmberg (Marwencol); Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet FromStardom); Peter Broderick (Marketing and Distribution); Michael C. Donaldson (Attorney – Fair Use); Julie Parker Benello (Chicken & Egg Pictures); Jen Arnold (A Small Act); Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez (Burn); Rory Kennedy (Ethel); Ava Duvernay (Venus Vs.); and Lucy Walker (Crash Reel).
APPLICATION FOR THE 2014 DOCUMENTARY LAB CLOSED
How to Apply:
To be eligible, you must be the director of a feature-length or hour-long documentary film in post-production. Directing and producing teams are welcome to apply together. Our preference is for projects in the rough-cut stage but we may consider exceptional projects earlier in the post-production process. Projects that have not completed the majority of principal photography and do not have any footage assembled are not eligible.
Applicants must submit the online application, which includes:
- Cover letter explaining your interest in the Documentary Lab
- Logline and short synopsis
- Documentary treatment including detailed summary, character descriptions, and director’s vision
- Bios of key crew attached
- Project status and history
- Budget Information and Finance Plan
- Rough-cut or scene assembly of the submitted project (DVD or online link)
- Non-refundable application fee ($45 Film Independent Member; $65 Non-Member)
- Non-Member applicants accepted into the Documentary Lab are required to become current Film Independent Members at the standard rate of $95 or above
Submitted DVD materials will not be returned.
WHAT SELECTION CRITERIA ARE USED IN EVALUATING DOCUMENTARY LAB SUBMISSIONS?
We are looking for talented filmmakers who have feature length documentary projects that are compelling, original, and demonstrate a filmmaker’s uniqueness of vision. We are open to first-time directors as well as filmmakers who previously directed shorts and features.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM?
Aside from the application fee, there is no tuition to attend Film Independent’s Artist Development Programs.
Film Independent offers the Filmmaker Labs to support emerging writers, directors, and producers in the development of their craft as well as their projects. We ask that once completed, films that have been supported by the Labs include the end credit “Developed with the help of the Film Independent Filmmaker Labs” with the Film Independent logo.
Got questions? We’ve got answers. Click here for Filmmaker Labs FAQs.
For more information, please contact Kelly Thomas, Producer in Residence, at 310.432.1262 or email@example.com.