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Creating The Right Festival Strategy for Your Film
"The workshop and Debra were absolutely stellar! It was like taking an invaluable master class.  I have so much respect for her as a professional and she has a great personality to top it off."

On Documentary Proposal Writing Basics with Tracie Holder

"WMM’s workshop reaffirmed what I was doing right and clarified what I was doing wrong. The clarification was invaluable."

On Master Class: Dawn Porter
"I’m so excited to have found a community of smart women filmmakers in NYC." 

"Hearing Dawn Porter describe her struggle and transition into the documentary filmmaking world was not only inspiring but exposed the blocks that are stopping me from just going out and doing it!"

Current Workshops

An In-Depth Conversation with Sonia Kennebeck and Ines Hofmann Kanna on the Making of National Bird
Wednesday, May 3 | 5:30-9:00pm
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How does a filmmaker attach Wim Wenders and Errol Morris to Executive Produce her feature-length documentary debut?  Find out when director Sonia Kennebeck joins us for a case study on her thought-provoking, accomplished documentary National Bird.  Kennebeck will be joined by producer Ines Hofmann Kanna in a stimulating conversation tracing the team’s journey from seed of an idea through the making of, the financing and their premiere at the 2016 Berlinale and broadcast on Independent Lens.  We’ll offer a screening of the film at 5:30pm, followed by the case study at 7pm.  You do not need to attend the screening to join us for the workshop.  

Meet the Festival Programmer: Thom Powers of Toronto International Film Festival & DOC NYC
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 | 4:00 - 6:00 PM
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In recent years TIFF has been the launching pad for documentaries such as I Am Not Your Negro and He Named Me Malala while DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, showcases over 200 films each year. What are these two prestigious festivals looking for? What should you know before submitting? How can you best take advantage of your festival experience if your project is accepted? Thom Powers, Documentary Programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival and Artistic Director for DOC NYC, will join us to answer your questions. The deadline to submit to TIFF is June 2nd so this is a great opportunity to get the inside scoop on making your film stand out!

How to Oscar-qualify your film in NYC with Erika Dilday of the Maysles Documentary Center & Jake Perlin of the Metrograph Cinema
Wednesday May 17th |6:30pm – 8:30pm
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WMM is thrilled to welcome Erika Dilday of the Maysles Documentary Center, the only independent film house north of Lincoln Center devoted exclusively to documentary programming, founded by the late, great Albert Maysles and Jake Perlin, Artistic Director and Programming Director for the Metrograph, a new downtown cinema recently celebrating its first anniversary. Erika and Jake will discuss how to work with them to qualify your film for an Academy Award, how much it costs and when you should start planning. They will also talk about how to submit your film to their programming lineups throughout the year. Included in the workshop’s handouts will the official rules 2017 Academy Award submissions. Bring your questions to what is sure to be an informative event!

Past Workshops

The National Endowment for the Humanities: A Case Study
Wednesday, September 28th | 6:30 – 8:30pm

Applying for an NEH grant may seem overwhelming but it doesn't need to be.  Join us in conversation with NEH senior program officer, Jeff Hardwick, as he breaks down the process step by step, sharing what works and what doesn’t from the organizational side. We’ll also be joined by first time directors, Sabine Krayenbuehl and Zeva Oelbaum, who have successfully been granted twice from the NEH. The directors received both a development and production grant for their documentary Letters from Baghdad  (Executive Produced by Tilda Swinton and Thelma Shoonmaker), a film about the extraordinary life and times of Gertrude Bell. They will talk about the process from the filmmaker's point of view including tips on how to make your project stand out.  With an application deadline coming up in January, this is a great opportunity to learn the elements of a successful proposal!

Meet the Funder: An Evening with the TriBeCa Film Institute’s Amy Hobby, VP of Artists Programs and Jose Rodriguez, Director of Documentaries
Thursday, October 13th | 6:30 - 8:30pm
There have been changes at TriBeCa Film Institute’s staff in the last year and WMM is thrilled to welcome Amy Hobby and Jose Rodriguez to discuss what’s new at TriBeCa in both narrative and documentary and new forms of storytelling.  They will discuss available grants, what they’re looking for and how best to apply.  Come armed with questions for what is sure to be an evening charged with energy and ideas. Recent films funded through the TriBeCa Film Institute include Weiner, People’s Republic of Desire, One Bullet Afghanistan, What Walaa Wants, Marriage Cops.

WEBINAR: Meet the Funder:  In Conversation with Rahdi Taylor of the Sundance Documentary Film Program
Thursday, October 20th | 6:30 – 8:00pm EST/3:30 – 5:00pm PST

The Sundance Documentary Film Program supports non-fiction filmmakers worldwide in the production of cinematic documentaries on contemporary themes. Established in 2002 with founding support from Open Society Foundations, the Program is a vibrant global resource for independent non-fiction storytelling. Recent projects include Cameraperson, Growing Up Coy, Whose Streets, Southwest of Salem, Audrie and Daisy, Newtown and many, many more…Join Rahdi Taylor, Sundance Documentary Film Fund Director in a lively conversation about changes at and within the DFP, what they are looking for, how best to succeed in your application and what happens when you are funded.  The journey seems not to end there with a grant, but really it’s just a beginning of a beautiful relationship…

Traditional and Non-Traditional Fundraising with Cynthia Lopez, Indie Film Media Strategist and Former NYC Film Commissioner
Wednesday, October 26th | 6:30 – 8:30pm

With so much competition for grants and foundation funding, thinking outside the box as well as going for what’s thought of as non-traditional financing is essential for success.  Whether creating short or long form content, documentary or narrative, Indie Film Media Strategist Cynthia Lopez (former NYC Film Commissioner/Former EVP/Co-Executive Producer of POV)will discussways to rethink how to nourish, promote and bankroll your film.​  Her ability to forge strategic partnerships among corporate and public interest media has been a signature of her work. Lopez is the recipient of 11 National News & Documentary Emmy Awards and four Peabody Awards and three Columbia-DuPont Awards among many other industry recognitions. Come with your projects and questions for what is sure to be an enlightening conversation!

WEBINAR: Meet the Funder: The Filmmaker Fund with Marc Silver and Minette Nelson
Thursday, November 3rd |11:00am – 1:00pm ET

In the spirit of fostering great work, the Filmmaker Fund is committed to both proven and emerging filmmakers with assistance at every stage of production and post-production. Primarily, their role is to remove the obstacles that lie in the way of great work.  From early stage funding, through production, to a DCP, it is their aim to alleviate artistic encumbrances. Recently funded films include Uncle Howard, The Return and The Island and the Whales. Join filmmaker and Creative Director of the Filmmaker Fund, Marc Silver, and Filmmaker Fund Founder, Minette Nelson, in conversation (and for your questions and answers) around this exciting new fund and partnership.

Welcome to the 21st Century: Unpacking and Understanding the World of VR with Interactive and VR Specialist Ingrid Kopp 
Webinar, Tuesday, November 15, at Noon ET

One of the most innovative leaders in the field, Ingrid Kopp, Senior Consultant, Tribeca Film Institute’s Digital Initiatives & Co-Founder/Co-Director of Electric South,  unpacks the elements of VR and interactive storytelling in this info-packed webinar.  Whether these are foreign concepts or the space where you’re currently working, this workshop is for you. Join us for this webinar where we will explore the growing field of interactive and virtual reality storytelling, a space that brings together mediamakers, technologists and designers to create media projects that go beyond traditional screens. Come hear about the most exciting work happening in this sphere and find out about cutting-edge projects that integrate film with content across media platforms, from documentary and investigative journalism to video gaming, apps, social networks and the Web.

In Conversation with Motto Pictures’ Julie Goldman
Wednesday December 7, | 6:30 – 8:30pm

Julie Goldman has been described as one of the most prolific documentary producers working today with recent releases such as Life Animated, Weiner,Solitary, Buck, Beware of Mr. Baker, Best of Enemies, 1971 and many, many more.  Abacus, Small Enough to Jail is her latest producing effort, directed by Steve James; it recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Here she talks about her life and career, the films she’s produced and executive produced, the director/producer relationship, how to think outside the box when financing your work, and the state of non-fiction today.  Sure to be a profound, humorous and stimulating evening.


Impact Producing, Outreach, Engagement and Social Media with Jennifer MacArthur of Borderline Media
Wednesday, December 14th | 6:30 – 8:30pm

Need help reaching your audience? Want to learn how to incorporate community outreach into your film's distribution plan?  Join Women Make Movies in conversation with Jennifer MacArthur, founder of Borderline Media and producer of Sundance 2017 U.S. Documentary Competition premiere Whose Streets? Borderline Media helps content producers and mission-driven organizations maximize their media to inspire civic participation, social action and impact. Their strategy and design work has successfully secured close to $1,000,000 in foundation support for filmmakers.  The company's projects include Out in the Night (POV, 2015); Southern Rites (HBO, 2015); Emmy® nominated Gideon’s Army (HBO, 2013), and Emmy® nominated Traces of the Trade (POV, 2008).  Whether you’re trying to change laws or just hearts and minds, bring your questions to this action-packed evening to understand how to build your audience and incorporate what every funder is asking for these days: your plan for community engagement and impact.

WEBINAR: Meet the Broadcaster: Al Jazeera English and Arabic Documentaries
Monday, December 19th | 12:00 - 2:00pm ET

Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera English are two international channels within the Al Jazeera Media Networks. AJ Arabic has just celebrated its 20th anniversary and AJ English its 10th! Al Jazeera English’s Documentaries account for nearly a quarter of the channel’s total output, with flagship strand Witness transmitting an hour plus a half hour documentary every week. Their multi-award winning films cover the world and include such acclaimed documentaries as Babushkas of Chernobyl, Sepideh: Reaching for the Stars and Small Small Thing. AJE commissions, acquires and co-produces around 100 new Documentary hours a year – stories to challenge dominant narratives, elevate seldom-heard voices and speak to a global audience. Last year, Al Jazeera Arabic and English, together with CBC Canada and White Pine Pictures, executive-produced the award-winning Guantanamo’s Child. Join Head of Documentaries at Al Jazeera English, Ingrid Falck, and former Al Jazeera Arabic Documentary executive Rawan Damen in conversation. They’ll explore ways in which the two channels differ and where they overlap, talk about what is new and what they’re looking for, as well as how to pitch within the global scope of the Al Jazeera network.
*All who RSVP will receive a playback recording of the webinar.

Meet the Funder WEBINAR: ITVS
Tuesday, January 10th|6:00-8:00pm EST

 As ITVS (Independent Television Service) concludes its 25th year, with recent films like I Am Not Your Negro, Abacus, Tower, Newtown, Meet the Patels, and Best of Enemies it has become a leading incubator for independent films through funding, co-production, mentorship, and development while getting high-profile and diverse documentaries to public media across strands like Independent Lens, POV, Frontline, American Experience and more. ITVS has been nominated for or won every conceivable award in documentary film and television.  Join WMM and Noland Walker, Senior Content Director at ITVS, in a global digital conversation to dissect ITVS in all its forms: what's new, where things are going, what they are funding, who can apply through Special Projects, Open Call, Diversity Development Fund and many more initiatives.  The next Open Call deadline is February 10,  2017 - so this is perfect timing to make sure you get it right!

Meet the Funder: Ford Foundation
Wednesday, January 11th from 6:30-8:30pm

The Ford Foundation seeks to reduce inequality in all of its forms, and artist-driven documentary and emerging media projects are crucial to this effort. The projects and people  supported inspire imaginations, disrupt stereotypes, and help transform the conditions that perpetuate injustice and inequality.  Recently funded films include When Two Worlds Collide, Whose Streets?, Catching the Sun, The Return, Citizen Four and Free Cece. Just Films annually disperses about $10million to organizations with content grants ranging from $50k-$300k. Join WMM and Chi-hui Yang, Program Officer for Ford Foundation’s Just Films Initiative, in conversation to discuss what’s new, what they’re looking for in 2017 and how to put your best foot forward when applying for funding.  Yang comes with incredible knowledge, not being just on the inside of the Ford Foundation, but as an accomplished curator and educator of film and documentary. This is an evening not to be missed!

Meet the Industry: Indie Film Clinic with Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin, Director of Indie Film Clinic
Wednesday, February 1 | 6:30 – 8:30pm

WMM welcomes Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin,  Clinical Professor and Director of Indie Film Clinic, at Cardozo Law School.  The Indie Film Clinic provides free legal services to filmmakers producing independent, documentary and student films and to artists providing services to independent and documentary film.  The clinic’s mission is to provide next generation of Cardozo lawyers with a solid grounding in legal transactional legal skills and the strengthen New York City as a center of independent film production.  Prior to joining Cardozo, Professor Greenberg-Kobrin was the Dean of Students and Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School, where she taught in the areas of negotiations, deals and leadership.  In addition to overseeing the Indie Film Clinic at Cardozo, Professor Greenberg-Kobrin is the founding director of the Program on Leadership.
The Indie Film Clinic works with filmmakers and artists to provide assistance at every step of production and distribution.  From entity formation, fundraising, navigating the producer/director/actor/crew agreements, addressing questions of licensing and fair use, obtaining errors and ommisions insurances and negotiating distribution agreements, the Indie Film Clinic provides pro bono high quality legal counsel.  The Indie Film Clinic's clients regularly have had their work accepted at film festivals all over the United States and the world, including Sundance, Tribeca, and Berlin.  
Please join us as Professor Greenberg-Kobrin provides an overview of legal issues one should consider while making movies and talks about the work of the Indie Film Clinic.  

WEBINAR: Creating Your Festival Strategy with Women Make Movies’ Executive Director, Debra Zimmerman
Tuesday, Feb 21, Noon ET
Film Festivals are an essential component in launching your film, building your audience and gaining the interest of distributors and sales agents. Join WMM Executive Director, Debra Zimmerman as she explains the ins and outs of the film festival circuit and helps you figure out the best festival strategy for your film. Find out how to optimize film festival screenings with tips on generating buzz, gaining word of mouth, packaging your film, and navigating the scene once there. Come away from this workshop with a better understanding of how to market your film and to launch your feature, documentary, or short film. With more than 30 years at the helm of WMM, Debbie is one of the industry’s leading lights when it comes to independent film distribution, marketing and financing as well as an authority on women's film.

Meet the Broadcaster with POV’s Executive Director/Executive Producer Justine Nagan
Wednesday, March 1st | 6:30-8:30pm
As POV enters its 29th season on Public Television, with recent films likeTough Love, Iris, The Edge of Silence, Art and Craft, and Out in the Night, it stands as the longest running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV films are known for their intimacy and unforgettable storytelling, their universality and timelessness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.

WMM is pleased to welcome Justine Nagan, the new Executive Director and Executive Producer of POV and American Documentary in conversation. This is a chance to discuss all things new and relevant at POV and American Documentary’s World Channel award-winning series, America ReFramed and to meet Justine in person for this up-close and in-person event!

The Secrets of Successful Documentary Proposal Writing with Michelle Materre
Thursday, March 9th | Noon - 2pm EST 

Michelle Materre, Assistant Professor of Media Studies and Film at the New School, joins us for a vibrant and thought-provoking webinar to challenge you to make your documentary proposals not only better, but successful!
Professor Materre teaches courses such as Race, Ethnicity and Class in Media, Demystifying Distributing, Storytelling through Visual Analysis. In 2005 she received The Distinguished University Teaching award. Early in her career, she was a staff writer/producer for Henry Hampton’s Blackside Productions, and an assistant story editor for MGM/UA in the feature film division. As a founding partner of KJM3 Entertainment Group, Inc., a film distribution and marketing company that specialized in multicultural film and television projects, she directly managed the marketing and positioning of 23 films including the successful theatrical release of Daughters of the Dust, the highly acclaimed film by Julie Dash. 

A copy of this webinar will be available to all registrants.

Meet the Industry: International Co-Production and Conquering the International Market
with Cinetic's Jason Ishikawa

Wednesday, March 29th | 6:30-8:30pm
Cinetic Media is a New York-based film and media company that, since its founding in 2001, has provided advisory services in every aspect of development and operations related to film and documentary. Some of their Sundance 2017 acquisition pick-ups were City of Ghosts, Mudbound, Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and the Trials of a Free Press and Call Me By Your Name.

Cinetic's Jason Ishikawa comes to WMM for the first time to share his expertise in how to conquer the international market for your narrative or documentary film covering everything from co-production, festivals, sales and more.

When it's every filmmaker’s goal to get their work seen as widely as possible and in this day-in-age where financing is not getting easier, it sometimes takes a global team.  This informative and instructive evening will help you navigate the path of your projects in thoughtful and exciting new ways.​

WEBINAR: Meet the Funder: International Documentary Association:
The Enterprise Documentary Fund with Carrie Lozano and Simon Kilmurry

Tuesday, April 4th | 4:00-6:00pm EST

Women Make Movies is thrilled to welcome Carrie Lozano (Fund Director) and Simon Kilmurry (Executive Director, IDA), to introduce the new Enterprise Documentary Fund from the International Documentary Association, whose first official deadline is May 26th. This new initiative, made possible by the MacArthur Foundation, supports feature-length documentaries exploring original, contemporary stories that integrate journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. In addition, Carrie and Simon will take questions about the Pare Lorentz Fund, the Distribber Distribution Grant and all-things IDA.    

Meet the Industry: In Conversation with Loira Limbal from Firelight Media
Thursday, April 6th | 6:30-8:30 pm

Founded in 2000 by MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow, Stanley Nelson, Firelight Media produces award-winning films that expose injustice, illuminate the power of community and tell a history seldom told.  Firelight connects these films with concrete and innovative ways for diverse audiences to be inspired, educated and mobilized into action. In addition, Firelight is dedicated to developing documentary filmmakers whose projects advance underrepresented stories, moving them from the margins to the forefront of mainstream media through high quality, powerful productions.
Join Vice President, Loira Limbal in conversation walking us through Firelight Media and highlighting some of the their recent productions, Tell Them We Are Rising (Sundance 2017) The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Southwest of Salem, (T)ERROR, Las Marthas and many more… the Firelight Labs, how to be a Firelight Fellow and much, much more.​

WEBINAR: Meet the Funder: BritDoc Foundation with Sandra Whipham and Maxyne Franklyn
Tuesday, April 25th | 11am ET/4pm London  
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Dedicated to the impact of art and the art of impact, BritDoc is a non-profit formed in 2005 committed to enabling great documentaries and connecting them to audiences globally.  Their signature program, Good Pitch, has raised $17,000,000 in new funding for films and campaigns.  In addition, their grant program consists of six different funds including the Bertha Britdoc Journalism Fund and the Bertha Britdoc Connect Fund. Recent grantees include Hooligan Sparrow, Whose Streets? and The Look of Silence.  Join Sandra Whipham (Foundation Director) and Maxyne Franklin (Founding Director) to learn everything you ever wanted to know about the BritDoc Foundation and how you can get your film funded.  


Pricing and Discounts

WMM Partner Rates are available to WMM Fiscally Sponsored Filmmakers, members of WMM Partner Groups and Friends of WMM. Click here for more information.

Partner Groups include:

Asian Cinevision
Cinema Tropical
Chicken and Egg
Film Fatales
Black Documentary Collective
Women in the Arts and Media Coalition

Location and Directions

All workshops take place at:
Women Make Movies, Conference Room
115 W. 29th Street, Suite 1200, New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.925.0606

Refund Policy

No refunds will be given for any registrations.  If you are unable to make the workshop but notify us up to 24 hours prior to the actual workshop date, you may receive a credit for another workshop within one year. Workshops may be cancelled by WMM due to insufficient enrollment. All instructors are subject to change.

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View Past Workshops

Spring 2016
2015 Part 2
2015 Part 1
Fall 2014
Spring 2014
Winter 2014

All WMM workshops and events are open to the general public and our offices are ADA compliant. 

Women Make Movies gratefully acknowledges the support of our funders: The National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. The Andy Warhol Foundation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, with the support and encouragement of Rebecca Gregg, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. 

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Learn about fundraising, marketing, legal issues and more from top industry professionals at our twice yearly media workshop series.
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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us