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New York
aka Doug Block, documentary filmmaker
Recent Activity
Yikes, it appears I haven't posted here in about 8 years or thereabouts! In fact, I didn't even realize this blog still existed until today. And now that I've accidentally come across it, it seems the least I can do is point you to my newish personal website: It won't fill you in on these past years as I... Continue reading
Hard to believe it's been almost a year since my last post. It's not just a matter of being up to my ears in new projects. Between Facebook, Twitter and The D-Word, I tend to feel like I'm getting word out. Or at least whatever word seems necessary to get out when one's in the thick of production, which means... Continue reading
Earlier this year, when a broadcast pre-sale fell through at the last moment, acclaimed filmmaker Jennifer Fox suddenly needed to raise $50,000 for her newest documentary feature, MY REINCARNATION. She and her team, led by associate producer Katherine Nolfi, turned to Kickstarter and ended up raising $150,456, more than any other completed film in the history of the crowdfunding platform.... Continue reading
Filmmaker Marcelo de Oliverira has been posting at length about his experiences at the Werner Herzog Rogue Film School on the invaluable Scottish Doc Institute blog, and it makes for great reading. Here are some of my favorite takeaways: Sound is critical: "He continued over the course of the morning to delve into the importance of a director paying attention... Continue reading
I never went to film school, so when I started making my first film (The Heck With Hollywood!) I kind of made things up as I went along. It's called learning by trial and error, while doing everything possible to avoid the error part. It soon became apparent that much of producing boils down to a few simple things. Treat... Continue reading
The last on my list of big-time mistakes is geared to documentary filmmakers. I'll just say, going on a shoot without these is simply a recipe for disaster... Mistake #5 - Not bringing release forms. Or bringing them and not getting them signed. The first part is simple and should be drilled into your brain. When you pack for a... Continue reading
This mistake costs friendships. It certainly cost me one, so lesson learned the hard way. Mistake #4: Not getting clear, signed agreements with your key partners. This is especially important for producing partnerships on low-budget films. And even more important if you're producing with a friend. People bring different assumptions and expectations to a film. They have different ideas about... Continue reading
I'm briefly interrupting my list of five biggest producing mistakes to post a short interview with my friend, The D-Word co-host and producer extraordinaire Marjan Safinia. Marj packs more good doc filmmaking advice into 4 minutes than I previously thought humanly possible. A mini-master class and great stuff! Continue reading
If you ask commissioning editors, grants panelists and other lucky blokes who get to sift through countless funding proposals for the most common mistake they come across, this one would probably top them all: Not having a high enough budget. Producers, particularly first-time ones, consistently undermine themselves by asking for too little money. And usually far too little. Why? Because... Continue reading
Thanks to the affordability of digital camcorders, along with the sad fact that it often takes years for documentary filmmakers to scrape together their funding and shoot their stories, most end up accumulating hundreds of hours of footage along the way. Which means you're inevitably in for a very long edit period. Which all-too-often leads to mistake #2: Hiring your... Continue reading
Actually, there are dozens of mistakes I could label as “biggest” if I put my mind to it. I began drawing up a list and here are the first five that came to me. They’re certainly biggies. 1. Submitting your film to an A-list festival before it’s ready. Every year at this time, producers scramble to finish their films for... Continue reading
I recently taught two classes for Thom Powers' Advanced Producing course at the School of Visual Arts. And while it's geared for documentaries, it forced me to collect my thoughts on various aspects of film producing, in general. Since I feel guilty for blogging so infrequently during the distribution of The Kids Grow Up, I thought I'd partly make up... Continue reading
Completely agree with you about Hot Docs, AJ. For its mix of industry events and great films, I think it's the best doc festival going (which is saying a lot, given how many great ones are out there). As for Resurrect Dead, it's coming soon to one of those fine fests. Hope you can catch it there.
First nice postcript to the previous blog entry: So, who was the winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival's U.S. Documentary jury prize for Best Director? Would you believe, Jon Foy? Yup, downright surreal but true! Second nice postscript: Lots of good (and interesting!) distribution deals going down that we hope to announce shortly. Third nice postscript: For those in... Continue reading
It all began a few weeks ago when an email arrived with the intriguing subject header: "Help: I've Been Accepted into Sundance." The name of the sender, Jon Foy, was vaguely familiar. He's a D-Word member, but not a particularly active one. It began: "I know you're super super busy and this is totally out of the blue but I... Continue reading
Holy crap, the day of The Kids Grow Up theatrical premiere is here at last! It's not like our distribution ride has ended, far from it. But today represents the culmination of endless days of hard work going back for months, until everything seems, in retrospect, like one long fever dream. On the one hand, it's been enormous fun because... Continue reading
Whenever you make a personal doc, you have to brace for people ripping you, and sometimes in a very personal way. I'm still amazed that so few slings and arrows have come my way for '51 Birch Street' over the years. But with 'The Kids Grow Up' opening this Friday in NY, I'm steeling myself again, and probably for more... Continue reading
Our country is apparently suffering a serious shortage of modern media men. There couldn't have been more than 75 people attending this first national gathering of men-folk bloggers, almost all of whom, like me, were flown down to be speakers. While seriously depressing for the M3 organizers, not to mention the dozen or so sponsors sitting all alone at their... Continue reading
9:50 EST - Ok, I give Cal Ripken credit. Expected he'd just roll in, do a 15-minute shtick, collect his substantial fee and beat it. But he spent almost an hour giving a talk by the indoor pool, telling baseball stories with leadership themes, answering questions, posing for photos and signing autographs (the dire warnings apparently didn't come from him).... Continue reading
When you have a movie opening soon in theaters that's essentially a documentary about your daughter (ok, it's a lot more, but still) and you have little money to market it, you better get pretty damned creative with your marketing. And you better get your sorry ass in gear and start blogging, too. That's why I'll be in Atlanta for... Continue reading
A truly extraordinary personal documentary will air on the PBS series POV tomorrow night (Tuesday). Amy Hardie's THE EDGE OF DREAMING takes on the subject of dreams. And particularly what happens when Amy -- a science filmmaker, skeptic and happy mother of three -- dreams that her own death will take place within the year. Then her health progressively starts... Continue reading
As announced in indieWIRE and other trades yesterday, Shadow Distribution will handle the North American theatrical release of Doug Block’s feature documentary “The Kids Grow Up.” The film will premiere on Oct 29 at the Angelika Film Center in New York City before expanding its run to other cities (including the Laemmle Sunset 5 in LA on Nov 12). Block... Continue reading
In one of the all-time great gigs of my doc "career", I was recently hired as story consultant by perhaps the world's most beautiful woman, Christy Turlington Burns, for her film No Woman, No Cry. It turns out Christy is one of the world's nicest people, too, and when it comes to the subject of public health, one of the... Continue reading
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is flat-out one of the best documentary festivals in the world. It's relatively small, very intimate and draws a bevy of documentary enthusiasts that fill up virtually every screening, whether day or night, weekday or weekend. So no surprise that our Saturday morning breakfast special screening (10:10am!) was packed. And happy to report it... Continue reading
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Mar 15, 2010