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Intentional Filmmaking Class with Carole Dean

Posted by NDE • Jan 17th, 2018

poster_board_FTH-logo-LARGEWe’ve been busy editing several films here at New Doc Editing, and I’ve also been finishing my own film American Visionary. One of the biggest influencers for creating and funding this film is Carole Dean, who teaches the Intentional Filmmaking Class.

I highly recommend this stellar class to anyone who needs help with staying motivated and on track with film fundraising. Carole helped me raise $100,000 for my own film.

Her new class begins Feb 6th, and she’s co-teaching with funding expert Tom Malloy.

The class is $730 and starts Feb 6th.  You save $100 by enrolling by Jan 28th. Enroll by Jan 21st and enter code INTENT18 and SAVE EXTRA $75.

Click here to register.

I can’t recommend this class enough–not only for Carole’s inspiration–but the caliber of filmmaker she attracts. Tell her I sent you!


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Positively Trending Documentaries

Posted by newdoced • Sep 6th, 2017

Good_FortuneThe trend in documentaries that leave audiences feeling inspired is growing, and I’m proud to have story consulted on some of these hits.

In the trailer to Al Gore’s new documentary An Inconvenient Sequel, Gore says, “Despair can be paralyzing, but this to me is the most exciting development. We’re seeing a tremendous amount of positive change.”

Gore was talking about climate change, of course, but his upbeat, solution-oriented tone can be seen in a number of recent documentary debuts.

Take Josh and Rebecca Tickell’s new documentary Good Fortune, which tells the story of a John Paul DeJoria. An outlier of the so-called “one-percent”, this entrepreneur embodies Conscious Capitalism by giving away half his fortune to charities.

I story consulted with the directors after we met at Esalen, where I was teaching about transformational documentaries. Having inspired audiences with Fuel and other social issue docs, this couple saw a huge audience hungry for progressive documentaries that, in their words, don’t “paint a fear-based view of the world.”

Two years later, the Tickells reported that their Los Angeles premiere audience gave a ten-minute standing ovation “for a movie that is really a positive message of brotherhood.” Critic Roger Ebert called Good Fortune “terrifically engaging” and Deadline Hollywood says, “Inspiring doesn’t begin to describe it.”

Another “positive message” documentary that I’m proud to have helped structure is Pamela Tom’s Tyrus. This inspiring portrait of a Chinese artist has won a slew of awards. And Pam will realize the dream of many filmmakers when Tyrus debuts on PBS’s American Masters this Friday, September 8th, at 9pm/8c.

There are specific editorial decisions and techniques that can make the difference between an inspiring or depressing documentary. If you believe that documentaries should do more than leave people feeling frustrated and angry, email me about a story consultation.

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Editing Technique Crash Course

Posted by newdoced • Aug 30th, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 10.18.45Check out this entertaining 4-minute crash course in editing techniques. Sponsored by Pond 5, this slick tutorial gives 13 examples of micro-editing techniques, such as the smash cut, invisible cut and cross cut parallel editing.

And if you haven’t yet received my acclaimed e-book Documentary Editing (free here, normally $27), you’ll learn more editing transition tricks, as well as big-picture structural ideas.

Finally, for tips editing documentaries with multiple protagonists, check out module 5 of my seminar Editing the Character Driven Documentary (taught at the San Francisco Film Society).

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Editor Available With Storytelling Chops

Posted by NDE • Aug 24th, 2017

editor_availableI hope you enjoyed the eclipse this week! I currently have a talented editor coming available in a couple weeks. A film he edited has won a major award, and the critics have praised his editing. If your project can benefit from great storytelling, please email me.

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Extraordinary Editor Available

Posted by newdoced • Jun 7th, 2017

editI’m happy to report that my own film received a standing ovation at its world premiere Saturday night!

On another note…I have an extraordinarily talented editor available soon. Please email me if you have funding for post-production and would like to learn more.

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How To Sell Your Film Workshop

Posted by newdoced • Apr 2nd, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 13.58.02Just a reminder that HOW TO SELL YOUR FILM is coming up next weekend at UC Berkeley, and you don’t want to miss it! I took it last year and can’t recommend it highly enough.

Jilann Spitzmiller and Anna Darrah are offering this comprehensive film distribution workshop on April 8th. They will be covering all aspects of media distribution today, for films of any genre, length or age. They bring a wealth of knowledge from two sides of the distribution aisle: Jilann from the filmmaker side and Anna from the distribution side. They cover the tools that are available to you as a media maker right now to get your film seen, and make money as well. This information applies to your older films, as well as your new projects.

Day 2 is now sold out, but Day 1 still has a few slots left. Day 1 is a power-packed day filled with tons of useable info that will get you to the next level of confidence navigating the world of distribution. Empower yourself – Register now!

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Documentary Seminar Module #2

Posted by newdoced • Mar 27th, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 15.27.56When I was in graduate school, I made a very successful documentary called Framing Lesbian Fashion. (Although the title may seem like an oxymoron to some, this isn’t an April Fools’ Day joke.)

Nearly 30 years later–and after teaching 18 years at the top U.S. documentary program (at UC Berkeley)–I’ve learned a lot about documentary storytelling.

I put everything I know into my popular online seminar, The Ultimate Guide to Structuring Your Documentary. And today I’m giving away module #2:


If you like what you see, I’m offering a special on the entire seminar here:


This online seminar will teach you how to structure the two most successful types of documentary films: character-driven and topic-driven. Enjoy!

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Documentary Audience: Part 2

Posted by newdoced • Mar 24th, 2017

audienceHappy Spring time! As promised, here’s Part 2 of my recommendations for expanding your film’s audience beyond your niche audience.

If you missed my previous post, get Part 1 here and watch the free Filmmaker.MBA webinar “How to Find Your Film’s Audience” here.

Last week I explained one key reason Supersize Me was so successful in reaching a large audience. And it’s not about Big Macs. Morgan Spurlock used language and appealed to the values of three major worldviews at play in America today.

The other key reason that doc was such a block buster—and here’s the second key to broadening your film’s appeal—is that Supersize Me told a story. Granted, it was a story Spurlock made up, a self-imposed narrative arc, of eating only McDonald’s food for 30 days. But it worked.

So here’s the takeaway: Stories speak across ideologies.

Exactly what is a story? A story is not an essay. It’s not a POV. It’s not a profile or a phenomenon.

A “Story”, as screenwriters define it, is recounting the effort to achieve or get something–in the face of great odds. At New Doc Editing, we’ve been pioneers in consciously and deliberately adapting screenwriting principles to films about real life.

We do this through our story consulting services and our innovated Accelerated Post program.

Thanks to Liz McBee, a director who excels at finding her niche audience and then expanding beyond it, for this testimonial:

“Bringing Karen on as my story consultant was my project’s saving grace. Her input was clear, to the point, strategic, skilled and crucial. I’m grateful to have found her!”

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Kind Editor With Storytelling Chops

Posted by newdoced • Mar 20th, 2017

4459977018_f3d4c751ae_cI have an editor coming available soon with terrific storytelling chops. If you’re looking for a talented cutter and all around nice person, email me about next steps.


We can edit your documentary in record time in our Accelerated Post program.

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Documentary Audience: Part 1

Posted by newdoced • Mar 16th, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 10.15.55Today I’m sharing new ideas that I presented on last week’s Webinar, “How To Find Your Film’s Audience”. If you missed the live session, listen for free here.

The webinar focused on why finding the smallest possible niche audience for your documentary will ensure its success. I believe that’s true for many reasons. Here’s one—as well as my contrarian ideas about expanding your audience beyond your niche.

First, a bit of cultural theory. In America today, according to many theorists, there aren’t just two competing worldviews (left and right), there are actually three major worldviews.

The first worldview, according to Integral theorists and Spiral Dynamics, is often called Traditional because adherents support traditional values like family, security, morality, order, and fundamentalism. About 25% of the U.S. population is estimated to be at the Traditionalist stage of development. It’s an ethnocentric worldview that sees the world in terms of us and them.

The second worldview in this model has been called Modernist. Modernists value science, merit-based capitalism, democracy, self-reliance and achievement. It’s the start of a world-centric way of seeing things, and it’s estimated that 50% of the US population operates from this perspective.

The third major worldview in America today has been called Postmodern. In many ways, Postmodernism is defined by a reaction to the excesses of modernism. Postmodernism is at play for about 20% of Americans (and for most of the documentary filmmakers I work with). The major values are equality, environmentalism, social justice and pluralism.

In America today, these three worldviews are at war with one another. Duh.

So…. what’s the takeaway for us filmmakers seeking to build an audience?

First, it’s the recognition that it’s extremely difficult to make a documentary that transcends to another worldview. And…it’s OK to sing to the choir. The choir needs to your clarion voice so it can sing louder.

But–if you aspire to make converts–I have two recommendations.

First, make a documentary from an Integral perspective. An Integral worldview—estimated at 5% of the population– sees the value in all the other worldviews. Such a film would use language and stress values that appeal to Traditionalists, Modernists and Postmodernists.

I think the film Supersize Me succeeded in many ways because Morgan Spurlock appealed to values across the board: he had a (presumably) postmodern, vegan girlfriend, he relied heavily on the modernist value of science and medicine to track his progress, and when he spoke to tradition-driven people (mostly on the street interviews), he didn’t disparage them. He seemed to value their perspective.

Next week I’ll reveal the second strategy for transcending your niche audience. Meanwhile, check out the free webinar on Filmmaker.MBA, where my former story consulting client Chris Rufo and his partner Keith Ochwat lay out the nuts and bolts of finding a niche market for documentary filmmakers.

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