DocShop 2019 Schedule

Documentary in the Age of Information

The workshops and panels for DocShop 2019 will focus on Documentary Filmmaking in the Age of Information. The demand for up-to-the-minute coverage and content on issues and stories around the world has grown exponentially in the last decade. This media phenomenon has created a new and ever more important role for documentary films that provide a deeper dive and more holistic interpretations of complex, modern issues. DocShop 2019 will explore the challenges of contemporary storytelling careers, platforms for reaching audiences amidst fierce competition, the prolific world of online streaming and the ever-merging fields of documentary film and journalism.

PASSES DocShop Passes are $150 and include admission to all sessions and DocShop special events (happy hour, Pitch day party) as well as a 5-punch pass for film screenings. Single session tickets can be purchased online or at the door for $10. DocShop is FREE for students from the University of Montana and Montana State University. Click below to purchase!

          MCT Center for the Performing Arts |  200 N Adams Street  |  Directions
          University Center Theater  |  32 Campus Drive, University of Montana  |  Directions
          Montana Media Lab, UM School of Journalism | Don Anderson Hall, U of Montana | Directions





10:00am  |  From Audio to Visual: Taking Podcasts to the Screen (MCT)

Audio Documentary and Podcasts have become a breeding ground for film and series concepts - hear from directors and reporters who have worked on projects going from the recording studio to the big screen.
          Peter Cambor - Director The Black Box, adapted from Outside podcast episode “Cliffhanger.”
          Chris Higgins - Reporter, This American Life episode "I've Fallen In Love and I Can't Get Up," optioned for film by Sony

12:00pm  |  The Art of Sound for Documentary (MCT)

Advice from these film sound experts: attention to detail makes a good doc great. Hear from sound recordists, sound editors and audio producers about how to take visual stories to another level with sound. 
          Jule Banville - Last Best Stories
          Justin Angle - A New Angle Podcast
          Heidi DuBose - Sourcery Films

2:00pm  |  Film Marketing & Publicity in the Age of Information Overload with Smarthouse Creative (MCT)

This workshop, led by Smarthouse Creative's Ryan Davis and Amie Simon, will help demystify the role of the film publicist & digital marketing team, and offer tips, strategies and case studies to help you put your best foot forward, regardless of your budget.
          Ryan Davis - Smarthouse Creative
          Amie Simon - Smarthouse Creative

4:00pm  |  Editing for Impact with Doug Blush (MCT)

The hard work is done, the harder work begins. Now that you have your footage, how do you craft a true story? 
          Doug Blush - Madpix Films




10:00am  |  Transforming the Paradigm: Documentary and Identity, a Conversation with Women In Film (MCT)

Big Sky filmmakers talk with Women in Film (WIF) about navigating gender, identity and the role of documentary filmmaking in representation.
          Maikiko James - Women in Film
          Whitney Skauge - Independent Filmmaker

12:00pm  |  Sensitive Subjects, Powerful Opponents - Risk and Protection (MCT)

Docs exploring human rights, political or hot button issues often involve subjects vulnerable to retribution or other consequences for sharing their stories. This panel explores the responsibility of the filmmaker, how to approach subjects with care and maintain the integrity of the story and the characters.
          David Byars - Independent Filmmaker
          Liz Cook - Kickstarter
          Sohrab Mirab - Freelance Filmmaker and Translator
          Drew Xanthopoulos - Independent Filmmaker

2:00pm  |  Legal Savvy Filmmaking (MCT)

Have you fact checked, cross checked, double checked all your claims, ownership, character rights and vulnerabilities that might open you to litigation as a filmmaker? Hear some legal advice and case studies from filmmakers who prepared for legal repercussions.
          Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin - Law Director, Indie Film Clinic

4:00pm  |  Master Class with Jeff & Michael Zimbalist (MCT)

2019 Big Sky Retrospective filmmakers Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist are are Emmy and Peabody Award winning writers, directors, and editors whose films have been broadcast on HBO, Netflix, Showtime, MTV, IFC, FOX, PBS, ESPN, CBS, Channel 4, the BBC and BET, as well theatrically distributed worldwide. During this master class seminar hear Jeff and Michael discuss Doc Origins: What stories to choose and how to craft them.




10:30 am |  Challenging Dominant Views - First Person Storytellers (MCT)

Witness is Al Jazeera English’s award-winning flagship observational documentary strand. Hear how independent filmmakers craft character-driven films with strong unfolding actuality for a diverse global audience, reflecting human experiences beyond the headlines.
          Poh Si Teng - Senior Commissioning Producer, Al Jazeera English
          Smriti Mundhra - Director, ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN
          Bruce Franks Jr., Missouri State Representative, ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN 

12:30pm  |  News and Nuance - Docs for a Web Audience (MCT)

In an increasingly "connected" world dominated by click bait and viral video, these press experts employ doc film to broaden the online engagement experience for astute web audiences.
          Andrew Blackwell - Supervising Editor, The New York Times Op-Docs
          Emily Buder - Film Curator, Atlantic Studios
          Eric Gulliver - Producer/Editor, American Experience
          Joel Stonington - Producer, AJ+

2:30pm  |  Investigative Documentary Journalism: A Case Study on Ghost Fleet (MCT)

Ghost Fleet follows a small group of activists risk their lives on remote Indonesian islands to find justice and freedom for the enslaved fishermen who feed the world’s insatiable appetite for seafood. Investigative journalist-turned documentary filmmaker Shannon Service shares her experience joining these activists to share their story through feature film and VR experience in partnership with Vulcan Productions
          Shannon Service - Director, Ghost Fleet




The Big Sky Pitch and Tribeca Film Institute IF/Then Shorts Pitch are exceptional opportunities for filmmaking teams to "pitch" their documentary work-in-progress to a panel of the top commissioning editors and funders for documentary film. Join us for these exciting events, free and open to the public.

Today's events are located at the University of Montana UC Theater. A shuttle will run between the host hotel and the UM campus every 30 minutes. Click the links below for more information on each event including directions, parking and more. 

9:00am - 2:00pm  |  BIG SKY PITCH

3:00pm - 5:00pm  |  Tribeca Film Institute IF/THEN Shorts Pitch




10:00am  |  How to Craft Effective Distribution Strategy: From DIY to the Dream Deal (MCT)

While the channels of distribution have never been more diverse and accessible, the education for filmmakers of how to best utilize those channels is often inscrutable. Are day and date releases still your best bet? Do you still need a title to start with an "A" to pander to the alphabetized cable operators? And how much money are these films even making these days?? With so many different opportunities and new platforms arising constantly, how to choose the best path for YOUR film? Equally bilingual in the language of cinema and the lexicon of sales, Mia offers her knowledge of distribution to help filmmakers navigate their opportunities in the marketplace by understanding the rules that exist and the ways they can be bent and supplemented.
          Mia Bruno - Independent Impact Producer and Distribution Consultant

12:30pm  |  Public Broadcasting: The Evolving Landscape of Public Media (MCT)

The public broadcasting audience is changing, and so is the programming on your public station. Hear how these public broadcasting affiliates are embracing change through innovative programming and multimedia projects.
          Robert Chang - Associate Producer, America ReFramed
          Shirley Sneve - Executive Director, Vision Maker Media
          Pam Torno - Series Producer, ITVS Digital Initiatives

2:00pm  |  Distribution Forecast: Is the Golden Age of Doc a Bubble? (MCT)

Documentary distribution options have exploded in just the past few years, improving but also complicating the choices for documentary filmmakers. As demand increases for non-fiction content, what does competition for the best premiere, best international deal and best online play mean for reaching broader audiences? As Netflix and Amazon refuse to share streaming data, are content creators working in a vacuum? As dozens of companies join the original content space is online streaming a race to the bottom? 
          Gail Gendler - Formerly of Fandor
          Garineh Nazarian - FilmRise
          Ranell Schubert - International Documentary Association
          Shane Riley - Cinetic Media

4:00pm  |  Master Class with Travis Wilkerson (MCT)

The Montana Declaration: a manifesto on making work outside the main production centers, outside the main narrative and political impulses. Hear from Big Sky 2019 Retrospective filmmaker Travis Wilkerson.


Major funding for DocShop is provided by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

DocShop 2019 is also made possible by sponsorship from:



Additional support provided by: