FilmShop Labs is an annual filmmaking symposium featuring workshops, lectures and Q&As designed to help filmmakers improve their craft. This year's program included screenwriting and directing workshops; presentations on editing, funding, and business best practices for creatives; a distribution panel; and more. Select sessions will be available online (see below).

The program was curated based on the input of members of the FilmShop filmmaking collective, whose mission is to support and inspire the independent filmmaker in the creation of new work. 

10:00 - 11:30

Session 1A - From Festival to Distribution

Three documentary directors--FilmShop members Maxine Trump (Musicwood) and Theresa Loong (Every Day is a Holiday), and alumna Jillian Schlesinger (Maidentrip)--present an overview of what’s involved in taking one’s project from its festival run to online and theatrical distribution, and beyond.

Session 1B - Screenwriting Workshop: Saying Yes to the Idea

Playwright and screenwriter Brooke Berman leads a workshop on embracing your impulses as a storyteller and artist. Take part in a series of writing exercises to help shake loose the characters that haunt you and pieces of story that seemingly have no place, or don’t fit a particular format or series of beats. Learn how not to dismiss your ideas before they’ve had time to percolate and blossom.

11:45 - 1:15

Session 2A - Creating Your Story in the Editing Room

Award-winning editor Matthew Hamachek discusses how to edit for story in documentary film, shows examples of mistakes to avoid, and demonstrates how to improve on your original concept, using his 2013 film Gideon’s Army--which follows the personal stories of three young public defenders in the Deep South--as a case study. (Attendees are encouraged to watch the film before the conference.)

Session 2B - An Introduction to Directing Actors

The Tools” are a set of directing principles developed by Adrienne Weiss, a simple, practical and effective method designed to allow directors to diagnose what’s wrong with performances and quickly make them great. Brad Barnes, an award-winning filmmaker who also teaches The Tools in film programs and private workshops, leads a series of exercises with workshop attendees, some of whom will serve as actors, to demonstrate this approach.

2:45 - 4:15

Session 3A - Cutting through the Noise: Curating Short Films for an Online Audience

Ivan Kander, editor at the short film website Short of the Week, discusses the ways in which curation is making a difference in the crowded online media landscape and dissects how to best make your work resonate with an internet audience. Short of the Week was founded in 2007 and prides itself on discovering and promoting the most innovative short-form content from around the world.

Session 3B - Business Best Practices for Creatives

Which accounting practices can help filmmakers reduce the risk of getting audited? What’s the difference between hiring an independent contractor versus an employee? Should you structure your business around your project or your company? How can you make the most of production tax credits? Members of NYC-based, filmmaker-friendly accounting firm WithumSmith+Brown address these and other business conundrums and field additional questions from attendees.

4:30 - 6:00

Session 4A - Case Study: I Believe in Unicorns

Leah Meyerhoff, award-winning filmmaker and founder of the women’s filmmaking collective Film Fatales, shares her experience with making her debut feature I Believe in Unicorns. Topics covered will include fundraising, the expansion of a short to a feature, shooting on 16mm, distribution, and how to build a substantial following on social media.

Session 4B - Grant Funding for Social Issue Documentaries

As both an independent documentary filmmaker and the Manager of Grants and Investments at Fork Films, FilmShop alumna Kat Vecchio offers a no-nonsense overview of the process involved in seeking funding for your documentary. While this session focuses primarily on social issue films, the information presented will be relevant to filmmakers working on all types of documentaries.


SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2015
10:00AM  6:00PM