About the workshop

Do you have an idea for a documentary but don’t know how to move forward?

In this four-hour workshop, Thom Powers brings his 20 years of experience – as a filmmaker, festival programmer and teacher – to guide attendees through all the steps for a successful project. You’ll learn how to assess an idea for commercial viability, where to go for funds, how to manage production and editing, and how to bring a project into distribution.

The workshop combines information with inspiration to help get your project off the ground. You’ll come away up-to-the-minute insights into marketplace trends that you won’t find in other classes or books.

Powers will cover a range of documentary formats including shorts, features and series. He’ll discuss what disruptive platforms such as Kickstarter, Netflix and Vimeo mean for filmmakers to have a sustainable career.

Powers has long held positions as a documentary programmer at the Miami Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. He is the founding artistic director of America’s largest documentary festival, DOC NYC. That festival, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary Nov. 7-14, includes 300+ films, episodic content and events spanning eight days at the IFC Center, SVA Theater and Cinepolis Chelsea, with hundreds of special guests in person.

He hosts two podcasts: “Pure Nonfiction,” interviewing documentary filmmakers, and WNYC’s “Documentary of the Week.” He spent 10 years as a director and producer on projects for HBO, PBS and other outlets. He teaches in the MFA Social Documentary program at the School of Visual Arts and previously at New York University.

Powers is also currently in residence in the Department of Communication at Wayne State University, where he holds the Bob Allison (Allesee) Endowed Chair in Media.

Past guests: Hillary Clinton, Eric Clapton, Emma Watson, Jim Carrey, Rev. Al Sharpton, Thandie Newton, Susan Sarandon, Martin Scorsese, Itzhak Perlman, Big Bird, Sarah Polley, Jared Leto, Olympia Dukakis, Chris Rock, Seth Myers, Alia Shawkat, Lucas Hedges, Kevin Kline, Heather Graham, Jean Claude Christo, Rashida Jones, Michael Moore, Errol Morris. Audience attendees have included Harry Belafonte, Rosario Dawson, Fred Armisen, Jim Jarmusch, Michael Stipe, Martha Stewart, Katie Couric, Russell Simmons, Darren Aronofsky, Cornel West, Naomi Watts, among others.

This is considered a marquee festival event. Admission is not included in the regular festival pass.


10:30-3:30 p.m. Fri., April 12
Marvin & Betty Danto
Lecture Hall, DIA

Price: $75

Students are eligible for a discounted rate of $50 (student ID required). Email freepfilmfestival@freepress.com for details.

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