By Ray Pride

Impact Partners Launches Emerging Documentary Producers Fellowship at DOC NYC 2015

Liz Garbus, Morgan Spurlock, Thom Powers, Stanley Nelson, Dan Cogan, Amy Ziering, Julie Goldman, Caroline Libresco and other industry luminaries to encounter documentary’s most promising film producers in yearlong workshop series
July 2, New York, NYImpact Partners announced today the launch of the new annual Emerging Documentary Producers Fellowship, which will be awarded to some of the industry’s most promising new producers at an inaugural ceremony at DOC NYC this fall. With the Emerging Documentary Producers Fellowship, Impact Partners will celebrate the independent documentary producer and foster emerging producing talent by launching a fellows program consisting of a yearlong series of workshops with some of the most prominent luminaries in the field of documentary film.
Guest luminaries who are confirmed to participate in the 2015-2016 fellowship workshops include: Victoria Cook (Page One: Inside the New York Times, The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Geralyn Dreyfous (Born into Brothels, The Square),Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp, Detropia), Liz Garbus (The Farm: Angola, USA, What Happened, Miss Simone?), Howard Gertler (How to Survive a Plague, Do I Sound Gay?), Julie Goldman (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Buck), Amy Hobby (What Happened, Miss Simone?, Love, Marilyn), Director of the Documentary Film Program at Sundance Institute Tabitha Jackson, Sundance Film Festival Documentary Programmer Caroline Libresco (American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs), Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution), DOC NYC Artistic Director and Toronto Film Festival Programmer Thom Powers, Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me,  CNN’s Morgan Spurlock Inside Man), Amy Ziering, (The Invisible War, The Hunting Ground), plus others to be announced in the fall. The workshops will be moderated by Impact Partners Executive Director Dan Cogan (How to Survive a Plague, Hell and Back Again, The Queen of Versailles).
Cogan states, “People often say we are in a golden age of documentary filmmaking, and that’s true. The quality of documentary films, and their popularity among audiences, have never been higher. And yet this rising tide has not quite lifted all boats. Amidst growing institutional and popular support for great documentary directors, producers of documentary film are still underappreciated and underserved. At Impact Partners, we believe that just as documentary directors need to be encouraged and supported, so do documentary producers. Through our new year-long fellowship, we aim to support and cultivate a new generation of great documentary producers.”


Thom Powers, Artistic Director of DOC NYC, says, “Documentary producing isn’t something you learn from books. It’s like an occult knowledge acquired through mentors and practice. The most important secrets of massaging finances, personalities, legalities and unexpected situations are only shared in closed rooms. DOC NYC is proud to give a platform to this vital initiative.”

Impact Partners is a leading financier and executive producer of documentary film with credits including The Cove, How to Survive a Plague, Hell and Back Again, The Hunting Ground, The Garden, The Queen of Versailles and many others. DOC NYC is the largest U.S. documentary film festival.

The Impact Partners Documentary Producers Fellows will participate in ten development workshops to be held in New York City, guided by eminent producers and industry experts with distinct areas of knowledge. Each session will explore a different aspect of film production facing young producers today. The workshops will cover film finance, festival strategy, marketing and distribution deal making, legal workshops and other critical topics. During each session, luminaries will work closely with each fellow to choose topics and issues with immediate relevancy to their current work, offering hands-on advice, strategies and best practices.

Each fellow will also be awarded $2,500.  

For the inaugural 2015 program, five emerging producers will be selected. Nominations will be accepted from directors, producers, editors and other key crew members who have worked directly with the person on a previous or current film. Candidates must be nominated by current or former colleagues and cannot nominate themselves.

The program is now accepting nominations through October 6th, 2015. Winners of the fellowship will be announced at a special awards event at DOC NYC 2015. For more information on the application and selection process, please refer to details below, or visit:

How to Apply

Nominations are now being accepted from documentary filmmakers and other key crew members who have worked with an emerging producer. A short nomination form is currently available on our website here: If you know someone you would like to nominate, please fill out the form and send it

The deadline for nominations is October 6th, 2015.

If you are a producer who is interested in applying, we encourage you to get in touch with filmmakers you have worked with in the past and ask them to nominate you. As nominations come in, candidates will be contacted with a brief application form.

Who is Eligible?

This fellowship is created to support emerging documentary producers.

We want to hear from the documentary community — who are the young producers who are creative, resilient and eager to grow? Who would benefit from mentorship and becoming a member of a new network of documentary producers?

Applicants MUST have worked on at least one documentary film in a key crew position such as Producer, Line Producer, Co-Producer or Associate Producer. They may NOT have worked as “Producer” on more than 3 feature-length documentary films. Applicants must be based in New York City, or be willing to travel for all of the workshops.

About Impact Partners

Impact Partners is a film fund and advisory service committed to financing independent cinema that addresses pressing social issues. We bring together financiers and filmmakers so that, together, they can create great films that entertain audiences, enrich lives and ignite social change. Since its inception in 2007, Impact Partners has been involved in the financing of over 60 films, including: The Cove, which won the Academy Award® for Documentary Feature; How to Survive A Plague, which was nominated for the Academy Award® for Documentary Feature; The Hunting Ground; The Queen of Versailles, which won the U.S. Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; Detropia, which won the Editing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; Freeheld, which won the Academy Award® for Documentary Short Film; The Garden, which was nominated for the Academy Award® for Documentary Feature and Hell and Back Again, which won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography Awards at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award® for Documentary Feature. Impact Partners was founded by Dan Cogan and Geralyn Dreyfous.

About DOC NY

Documentary storytelling is flourishing like never before — encompassing reportage, memoir, history, humor and more. DOC NYC celebrates this cultural phenomenon and encourages its new directions.

Among its missions, DOC NYC aims to: Curate: guide audiences toward inspiring work. Cross Fertilize: gather practitioners of many fields — filmmakers, writers, photographers and other storytellers to inspire each other. Cross Generations: use the festival’s partnership with School of Visual Arts as a means for younger and older voices to communicate. Cultivate New Audiences: attract newcomers with the excitement of a festival atmosphere. Expand Distribution: help documentary storytellers make the most of emerging technologies such as video downloads, podcasts and electronic readers. Create Social Space: bring people together in theaters, lounges, and discussion spaces in Greenwich Village and Chelsea. Make the Most of NYC: foster fresh connections between residents and expose visitors to the opportunities that happen only in New York.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon