This three-day workshop program, sponsored by A&E IndieFilms, is designed to help position commercially-viable documentaries for the big screen by providing one-on-one mentorship, pitch training, master class discussions, case studies, screenings, and networking opportunities for feature length documentary filmmakers. The TFI/A&E IndieFilms StoryLab is designed to help position documentary filmmakers who are preparing to submit their projects to major film festivals, and are working on story structure and character development.
The inaugural workshop took place in October 2013 in New York City. Master classes were led by two-time Academy Award-winning producer Simon Chinn (Man on Wire, Searching for Sugar Man). Additional industry leaders included Academy Award-winner Ross Kauffman (Born Into Brothels), famed producer Julie Goldman (Buck, A Place at the Table), A+E Films’ Molly Thompson (Jesus Camp, The Tillman Story, September Issue), TFI’s Director of Documentary Programming Ryan Harrington and TFI’s Director of Digital Initiatives Ingrid Kopp.
For the 2014 edition, Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp, Detropia) led the master classes with Julie Goldman, Chris Clements and Carolyn Hepburn of Motto Pictures, noted director and producer Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story, Happy Valley), producer Josh Braun of Submarine Entertainment and Tribeca Film Festival Programmers Cara Cusumano and Sharon Badal contributing as mentors.
The 2015 mentors included film director/producer Rachel Boynton (Big Men, Our Brand is Crisis); film editor/producer Kurt Engfehr (Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11); film editor Sloane Klevin (Taxi to The Dark Side); as well as film producer, John Battsek (Searching For Sugarman, The Imposter, Restrepo) and film director Amir Bar Lev (Happy Valley, The Tillman Story, My Kid Could Paint That), who together will lead an intense case study breaking down the story format of The Tillman Story.