Documentary U
Docs on TV - Evolution of the Broadcast Landscape
Review by Ross Anthony

Situated in a welcoming space inside the old "Silent Movie Theatre" in WEHO, Tom White moderated a panel of three industry notables. The power only went out once, but Gary Dauphin handled the interruption professionally and without a flinch. The venue was filled with what appeared to be mostly documentary filmmakers. They were treated to a short doc teaser reel from each of the three panelists who answered a few of Tom's questions and then took questions from the group. Belisa Balaban from Participant hit her message home several times -- think about an episodic series angle to your doc. She and Kerner of CNN both needed representation in order to look at proposals and reels, though Dauphin of KCET was open to non-repped pitches. All three said they'd need to see a reel with the proposal, Balaban cautioned to keep it short. Filmmakers asked questions, the panelists responded. To my surprise, the panelists refused to answer a specific money question, "Ballpark, what do you pay for docs?" The refusal to answer downgraded the value of the event, and left a lingering feeling of dissatisfaction which was further aggravated when one of the panelists stated, "We should be the last place you shop your docs." Tom helped out by mentioning that DocU mag had done an article on the money numbers in the Dec 2010 issue. (I couldn't find that article, but did read an article from White in that issue which was helpful and has some anecdotal numbers.) Filmmakers were encouraged to run their docs at festivals because reps such as these three go there to find docs to purchase. Following the presentation three panelists and filmmakers were invited to hang out in the courtyard.

Doc U's Description of the Event: The last few months have seen a number of major changes in the broadcast outlets for nonfiction programs. CNN launched CNN Films, upping the network’s commitment to long format documentaries. Participant Media acquired the Documentary Channel and Halogen TV, to be re-branded and launched this summer as a new channel featuring scripted and nonscripted programming, and LA™s KCET, the nation's largest independent public television station, has merged with Link TV creating KCETLi΅k, a new transmedia independent network that acquires, produces and distributes provocative global programming. With these new ventures, and other evolving players on the scene, we'll take a look at the outlook for docs on TV. What programming will these new channels be seeking? How will their content to be accessed in the variety of ways available to consumers today? How do these new outlets increase the visibility and availability of docs and non-fiction content? How do these new initiatives, acquisitions and mergers signal the future for non-fiction works on television? Join Tom White, Editor of Documentary magazine, and a panel of industry insiders including Belisa Balaban, SVP, Unscripted Programming at Participant Media; Gary Dauphin, Director, New Media, KCET,; and Lizzie Kerner, Director of Development & Acquisitions at CNN Films, as they discuss the changing landscape and new opportunities for docs on television. 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 information and insight on various topics relevant to the world of documentary filmmaking.

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  • Doc U:Docs on TV - Evolution of the Broadcast Landscape. Copyright © 2013.
  • Based on the March 18th, 2013 event at Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA

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Copyright © 1998-2022 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Thursday, 21-Mar-2013 19:54:04 PDT