Ask the Doc Doctor

Blurring the Lines

The boundary between her film—about children with cancer—and her life evaporated when Julia Reichert herself was diagnosed with cancer

Ohio-based filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s 3-hour and 45-minute documentary A Lion in the House follows five families with economically and racially diverse backgrounds over six years during their fights against childhood cancer.

Making it on public TV

The Documentary Doc outlines how you can get on PBS, and the difference between the network's hard and soft feeds

Dear Doc Doctor:
How can I get my work onto public television?

Is it okay to bring my kids to along when I'm shooting?

The Documentary Doc answers that question, plus whether you should tell people if you're pregnant

Dear Doc Doctor:
I’m a cinematographer, and I just found out that I’m pregnant. Should I tell people? I can’t afford to lose any jobs right now.

Do I need a business plan?

Plus, the Documentary Doctor tells you how to say no to a project gracefully

Dear Doc Doctor:
I’ve been asked for a business plan for my documentary. I thought those types of things were only for fiction films. Do I really need to write one?

Is documentary the new memoir?

A sociologist’s view from the couch


I am a sociologist who conducts historical research on race and social policy, so my work has something in common with a documentary filmmaker’s attempt to uncover some version of “the truth” (however defined).

What if nobody "gets" my film?

You are responsible for making sure people understand the message you are trying to convey, the Doc Doctor says

Dear Doc Doctor:

Nobody seems to like my film—they say it’s unclear and hard to follow. Why aren’t they getting the story?

Budgeting for archival footage

The Documentary Doctor suggests you start by listing your key elements

Dear Doc Doctor:

How can I calculate how much archival footage I’ll need for my film, and how much it will cost?

Making a documentary abroad

Don't let the excitement of an exotic locale cloud your judgment, the Documentary Doctor says

Dear Doc Doctor:
I’m planning to make a documentary abroad. Am I better off bringing my own crew or hiring there?

How much should I hustle?

An outreach campaign need not be time-consuming or expensive, the Documentary Doc writes

Dear Doc Doctor:

My film projects and ideas are well-suited for public television. But as an independent filmmaker I can’t envision my work fitting into pre-formatted programs. Do I have any options besides just selling a finished film?

Is it too late to edit myself out of this film?

You may not love your onscreen persona, but trying to edit yourself out of a film will be challenging, the Documentary Doc writes.

Dear Doc Doctor:

I think I made the mistake of putting myself in my film as the inquisitive filmmaker—as a woman, I’m not sure if the role really suits me. What can be done at this stage to save the film?

Syndicate content