The book I worked on for the last year, The Documentary Distribution Toolkit: How to Get Out, Get Seen and Get an Audience, is officially in production. I have heard from the production manager and am in the process of reviewing proofs. The publisher sent me cover mock ups to look at and comment on. I am in awe watching this come together.
It has started to dawn on me how much work this really was. When you’re in the middle of it you’re just focusing on setting up the next interview, preparing for the next call, or fact-checking quotes to make sure everyone feels comfortable with their contribution. Documentary is a small world and we should all support and respect each other.
I was fortunate to have Paul Lewis agree to write a Foreword for the book. Lewis is the Conference Director of the World Congress of Science & Factual Producers, an event I highly recommend. He’s been a mentor (even people who have worked for 20 years need mentors) since my graduation in 2019 from the Arts, Media and Entertainment MBA program at the Schulich School of Business at York University. Restarting my professional life in Canada, which has entirely different rules from the United States where I am from, has had its challenges and he remains unconditionally supportive.
Which leads me to one of the main things I hope everyone will take away from the book: never be afraid to ask questions. Don’t worry about making mistakes, admit them and fix them. Honesty goes a long way.
I will update information when it is useful on my own website. For instance, since sending in the TDDT manuscript in mid-May I have learned that my short film, In the Family Way, won’t end up on iTunes through the aggregator Quiver. I paid for this service (more than my book advance), and wrote about the experience of waiting over six months for it to go live. They recently sent an email that they cannot fulfill the order and will issue a refund.
Which brings me to another point I hope filmmakers take from reading the book: understand business concepts — particularly the budgeting models you are working with as well as those you are preparing to approach. One way to do this is to engage with your local filmmaking community. This will develop your skills and keep you up to date on what is going on in the broader industry. Long-term relationships are the key to your future success.
I now have a full-time job in Business Operations for Entertainment One, and I love it. But I also love the documentary community and will continue to participate in it. I plan to continue speaking about the topics discussed in the book, online and at events. I am developing a workshop for classes and institutional training. I want future filmmakers to feel and be more prepared than I was. I say this in the book and I would like to make this a mantra: When we all do better, we all do better.