September 2008

The 10 Best Academic Programs for Documentary Filmmakers

An overview of the best programs from Duke to Stanford to Maine


The Digital Media Academy's Documentary Filmmaking Camp has programs for adults, kids and teens (pictured).

Choosing the right school is hard, but it can be even harder when you have a specialized focus, like documentary filmmaking. Whether you're a novice or a veteran filmmaker looking to try something new, this top ten list of the best documentary film programs, both degree granting and non-degree granting, boils down the programs so you can find exactly the right fit.

These days, it’s fairly easy to find an excellent place to learn how to make narrative films. Ten Best lists exist by the fistful, and a Google search of “learn filmmaking” returns more than 30,000 hits.

From Dreams to the Screen: From Nightmare to Toronto

Australian screenwriting duo, Armstrong & Krause talk about their writing process, horrific influences and how near-death experiences led them to the craft of portraying nightmares.


A still from Acolytes, screening at TIFF this month.

Up-and-coming Austrialian screenwriting duo, Armstrong & Krause, talk to the Independent about brainstorming horror films and their new film, Acolytes (see trailer), which screened at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

For the most part, our nightmares are something on which we try not to dwell. However, in the case of Australian screenwriting duo Shanye Armstrong and S.P. Krause, nightmares are explored, outlined and used as the basis for many of their chilling storylines.

Living with a Mutation

An interview with the director and subject of "In the Family," a documenary about living with the breast cancer gene.


A still from "In the Family," as Rudnick examines the results of one of many tests.

Joanna Rudnick, director and subject of the documentary In the Family (see the trailer) discusses living life with the knowledge she has an 85 percent chance of getting cancer and what effect this documentary has had on her life, so far.

It’s hard enough being a single woman dating in your early thirties. But, imagine having to tell the person you're dating that you carry the gene mutation for cancer, and will eventually need to remove your ovaries and possibly breasts. Now, imagine having to tell that person you’re delaying the process because you’re waiting to have kids.

The Doc Doctor's Anatomy of a Film: "Sync or Swim"

The Documentary Doctor takes a look at filmmaker Cheryl Furjanic's "Sync or Swim."


A still from "Sync or Swim."

In the spirit of the Summer Olympics, the Documentary Doctor takes a look at filmmaker Cheryl Furjanic's Sync or Swim, which goes behind the scenes with the synchronized swimmers of the 2004 Summer Olympics. Also, check out the Doctor's previous Anatomy columns.

About this column: Many filmmakers ponder in anguish, How do other people—celebrated people—do it? Am I taking too long to make this documentary? Does everybody spend as much money as I am spending, or am I spending too little? And when filmmakers share their lessons learned in interviews in the glossy trade magazines, their tales seem to follow the arc of otherworldy heroes rather than real documentary makers, i.e. human beings like you and me. So each month, the Doc Doctor will go out into the world (this real world) of filmmakers who are successful and find out how they made it. The "Anatomy of a Film Column" is a chance to learn from filmmakers' hits and misses in real life examples. —Fernanda Rossi, story consultant a.k.a. the Documentary Doctor

Boom or Bust: The Cinema Guild's Ryan Krivoshey

Cinema Guild director of distribution, Ryan Krivoshey talks with the Independent about the evolution of independent film distribution


Cinema Guild's short film "Sari's Mother" has been nominated for an Academy Award.

Ryan Krivoshey, the Cinema Guild's director of distribution, talks with The Independent about the evolution of independent film distribution, how the perception of the documentary has evolved since 9-11 and how Internet distribution has had an impact on the way films are seen.

Much has changed since 1968 when Philip and Mary-Ann Hobel created The Cinema Guild and television was the niche market for all things educational.

"Slumdog Millionaire" Clip

"The Baby Formula" Trailer

"In the Family" Trailer

Blogging TIFF: Pontypool Changes Everything

A review of "Pontypool", one of TIFF's "groundbreaking films", which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival this month.


Director Bruce McDonald on the set of "Pontypool" his eighth feature films, which screened at TIFF this month.

Blogger Gillian Moody takes a look at the zombie-esque "Pontypool", a part of Toronto International Film Festival's Vanguard series, which imagines a world where a virus is spread through the English-language.

On Tuesday, Septemer 9, Canadian-made film Pontypool, a movie by director Bruce McDonald of The Tracey Fragments, (starring 2007 Oscar nominee Ellen Page from the movie Juno) screened at TIFF’s Vanguard, a program dedicated to groundbreaking films.

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