My Book and Talks

Join my Teach Out for the International Documentary Association, July 19

So pleased to be doing this event with IDA! Here is a link to register,

Event Description: Think Before You Shoot! Based on feedback from the producers in her book, Rachel will provide a broad overview of distribution basics every documentary filmmaker should know before starting their journey. She will explain the importance of creating technical and strategic goals to approach the markets that are receptive to utilizing documentaries, such as educational facilities, non-profits, and public television. We’ll discuss how to work with distributors and on your own, based on defining your audience first. Useful definitions and industry trends will be reviewed. Questions are encouraged. Rachel wants filmmakers to spend their time and money wisely.

Talking about Distributing Your Work at HotDocs 2023

Pleased to meet and talk to everyone at HotDocs in Toronto! I was discussing some of the highlights of the book and taking questions in addition to taking part in a discussion with fellow distribution folks!

Focus on Educational Distribution

I participated in an informal discussion and Q&A led by D-Word Founder Doug Block, with James-Michael Boyer, Director of Operations at distributor Collective Eye Films, about preparing films for educational distribution. You can watch this panel below or on YouTube. You can also visit the D-Word website to find out about their programs at

Encounters South African International Documentary Festival 2022

On June 29, I was pleased to participate in a discussion on distribution trends and streaming at the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, sponsored by the Documentary Filmmakers Alliance of South Africa. The panel is available to view here.

Hi, I’m Rachel Gordon. I have over 20 years of experience working with non-fiction filmmakers to identify receptive homes for their work—in collegiate, non-profit, and other specialty markets. I use targeted strategies to connect diverse video content to responsive audiences.

My book, The Documentary Distribution Toolkit, is designed to help filmmakers get started with the process of distributing their films. It is a comprehensive global how-to reference guide, providing insights into the landscape of documentary distribution; targeting the right audiences to expand the reach of your documentary; and building a sustainable career.

About Me

Rachel has been in the independent film community for 20 years, collaborating on projects from the production process through distribution. Working as everything from a script reader to a director and producer, Rachel became increasingly curious about what a finished film could accomplish outside of the normal theatrical distribution models. After developing grassroots skills with the National Film Board of Canada, and organizing the educational catalog of the Anti-Defamation League, she started Rachel Gordon Media/Energized Films to enable independent content to reach larger audiences.

Rachel has organized and participated in events and panel discussions for many academic organizations, including the Association of College and Research Librarians (ACRL) and the Consortium of College and University Media Centers (CCUMC). Rachel has also written articles on independent distribution for IndieWire’s Hope For Film, Shooting People and the Reframe Collection. She is a dual member of New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) and Women in Film and Video DC.

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The Documentary Distribution Toolkit is an up to date and easy to use book, full of of resourceful advises for those who work with documentary film today. Well done Rachel Gordon!

Lucas Vasconcellos, Diretor of Sinédoque – Brazil short documentary festival

Rachel Gordon provides a clear-eyed, straightforward roadmap to self-distribution to the filmmaker who seeks to shepherd their own film through its public life. Practical, candid, and full of real-life examples from filmmakers who have both found success and learned from their mistakes, this book should be an essential companion to any filmmaker anticipating the end of production and the beginning of their film’s journey into the world. 

Caitlin Boyle, Founder, Film Sprout

The Documentary Distribution Toolkit is a must-read for filmmakers who want to distribute their films in the 21st century. If you want to learn about classic distribution avenues but also new and innovative ways to reach a broad audience and make some money – this is the book for you.

Elena Dirstaru, documentary filmmaker

Book Synopsis

Mapping out a diverse journey through documentary distribution, this book is a comprehensive global how-to reference guide, providing insights into the landscape of documentary distribution; targeting the right audiences to expand the reach of your documentary; and building a sustainable career.

Detailing how to prepare your documentary, strategies for crowdfunding, working with documentary organizations and online platforms and outlining the channels to consider, The Documentary Distribution Toolkit demystifies the process of distributing your documentary. Featuring case studies and interviews including filmmaker Alice Elliot, representatives from public television stations such as ARTE, ZDF, Al Jazeera, TRT (Turkey), NHK, as well as drawing on author Rachel Gordon’s over 20 years of experience working in documentary distribution. Foregrounding documentaries for non-profit and educational purposes, each chapter gives guidance on how to think locally and globally, on money matters to consider, and personal questions to answer before proceeding to help filmmakers manage their time, money, and energy wisely.

This book empowers the filmmaker to distribute their documentary in an effective and strategic manner. Providing concrete advice on how to navigate the documentary ecosystem beyond the classroom, this is the ideal book for professional and emerging documentary filmmakers, as well as students who are looking to distribute their documentary films.