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Making a Short Documentary

Lesson 18 of 35

Develop a Fundraising Trailer


Making a Short Documentary

Lesson 18 of 35

Develop a Fundraising Trailer


Lesson Info

Develop a Fundraising Trailer

So develop a trailer so that you can actually start to shop around. Now, I showed you the Kickstarter ask. So that was one way of raising money. I'm gonna show you next, 'cause-- Bring It to the Table is a project I'm still very, very immersed in. What I'd like you to do because you'll have a relative comparison. We did that initial Kickstarter trailer to say, "Hey, will this work? "Cool, it's gonna work." The RNC and DNC are coming up. We know we need to be there. Kickstarter, immediate money and we'll build a community of supporters, right? That also helps because you have an immediate audience because people cared enough to invest. It could be anywhere from $1 to $1,000, but they invested in the project. So then, we got out and we shot a bunch with all that support we had. The next thing was, okay, let's now cut what this film will look like so we can actually see if we can get more support to see it through to fruition. So then we cut, what is more of a fundraising trailer, which i...

s really a sample that has scenes so you can see what the actual film might be like. You're gonna see some of the same exact footage you just saw but you're gonna watch how this project is now morphing in its next iteration. The goal here is to prove the project's worthiness. It should show you that we can do it. It's a valuable project. We've come this far. We're gonna make it happen, but still you probably want more. You can see where it's headed. We have to share some scenes, and we wanna leave some things open-ended. So with that, let's watch this eight minute. I didn't think I was part of the problem until my son called me out. (whimsical music) What's your recollection? Why are we doing this? We were watching, I believe it was Fox News. A reporter who had definitely conservative views and everything he said, you would just shoot down. So I called you a, dammit what was the word? Intolerant. I called you intolerant because I felt like you should listen to the other side and at least hear what they have to say. So the funny thing is that I remember it being in the kitchen. I don't remember sitting in front of a TV. I honestly just made that up. I don't remember where it was. I just-- That kinda sounded good. So Bring It to the Table actually started right here at this table, at my dinner table, and had this crazy idea where I thought if I could just invite people to sit down at my table and talk politics, and actually listen to what they had to say, then it would be the beginning of actually breaking out of that mold. (upbeat, quirky music) I don't know why it is we can talk about sex easier than we can about politics, but people kind of feel that possibly they might be judged by what they say. But I don't like to get into politics, because it can be very controversial. Is it liberal, conservative? Let's say here. I'm conservative. I think it depends, honestly, on the issue. There. You're talking about a left to right paradigm. Doesn't work that way. It's holographic. It's multi-dimensional. (upbeat music) After speaking with dozens of people in the New York area, I was ready to hit the road. We're heading down south for 10 days. Virginia, North Carolina. I haven't had many at the table yet that I totally disagree with. You know, usually I can see something reasonable in what they have to say. To sit at the table with somebody whose ideology goes so against everything I hold true and dear, I think is gonna be tough. Would you be interested in sitting down for a 10-minute interview? You're gonna have to tell me a little bit more about who you are before I talk to you. Okay. Do you represent a political party? We do not. We are completely nonpartisan. Well I'm a conservative right now. Okay. Would you like to sit down and talk about it? I've already identified you as not being conservative based on what you said. What did I say? Hey, it was good talking to you. I believe every person ought to try to support their self in this world. And too much liberal is giving away what other people has worked for. As far as I'm concerned, the role of government should be to ensure our civil liberties. If they step in to, let's say, tax me so they can give it to somebody else, then that's no good. Folks have said, in the past, to me at other places, "Well, politics and religion should not mix," but I contend that it should. We had one woman who sat at the table. She said, "You know, Christ wanted to feed the poor." So I don't understand why conservatives don't seem to want to take care of poor people. But I say that that's not true of all conservatives any more than it's true of all Democrats. Whenever folks come here and want a hand-out, I say, "Can I have your afternoon?" I put them out in the parking lot with a broom. My mother raised us, a single mom. I'm the oldest of three boys. And my mother never received public assistance. She just worked three jobs, and she worked really hard. And she was one of those people that just was kind of a nose to the grindstone kind of person. I've always admired her for that. And I think I get my work ethic from her. Yeah, I appreciate you letting me be a part of it. Thank you, it was great to meet you. I appreciate it. I will, and now is email-- Is there access through, is it on here? Yeah, it's on there. It's all well and good, you know, to have somebody whose mother managed to never take public assistance, and you know, had one change of clothes or whatever it is. She's exceptional. She is absolutely a role model. But to assume everybody will live up to that standard, I think is so impractical. Is that conservative idealism? You know, it's like people keep talking about liberal idealism. Maybe conservative idealism is that you take the most heroic amongst us and say that's where we're all aspiring to be, and it's absolutely attainable. My attitude had started to shift. I was ready for my biggest challenge yet. It was time to take the table to the Republican National Convention. We arrived last night in Tampa, and the first day of the convention's been canceled. That's why this place is also empty, 'cause there's a hurricane on its way. Everything's shut down for the day. I've made a lot of assumptions about what other people think. Hopefully what we've come to see is this really, that these parties are made up of shades of red and shades of blue. When they start talking about healthcare and then people are gonna have fines, and you're gonna be forced into this box, where that's not liberty. If you get diagnosed with cancer, the rest of us who do pay insurance, end up paying for you. Is that okay, or is that infringing on our liberty? But that's because you're assuming you're gonna have to pay for me. I had a sister, she didn't have insurance, she got cancer. She went the natural route. She, five years, she passed away. She wasn't a burden on the system. (solemn music) How can you possibly support a party that doesn't support you? I knew I was a conservative long before I knew that I was gay. In the Bible, marriage is between a man and a woman and it should be sacred. It's kind of a tough one for me. You don't get your marriage license from a church. You get it from city hall. It is a civil institution, one granted by the state. It is unconscionable and unconstitutional to deny us that same protection. But I don't agree with the precept from the beginning or the concept that a man and a man or a woman and a woman can be one. (people shouting) If you don't follow Jesus Christ you guys are gonna die and wind up in hell, and you think because you're an American, God's gonna-- If we could come to the table and say we both want what's best, and then fight like crazy with each other over what the best way to get there is, we could still get up from the table as friends. Where Democrats may get it right, I think is their love for the country, as much as we do. We should give each other credit for that. Whether or not we agree with what a perfect America looks like, that's what we should be fighting over. We're heading home now, from the RNC. I definitely don't feel as divisive in my attitude, but I do feel much clearer about where my beliefs are coming from. We wanna talk, but we don't wanna listen. God gave me one mouth and two ears. I think political discussions should happen more often, because I'm sure there's a lot of things about the Republican party that I have wrong, that I get wrong. I like the idea of having a conservative brand to pull me back. I think a lot of it comes down to listening. We don't listen enough. It's obvious, politicians don't listen. What happens is, when you actually listen, there's that dangerous possibility you might change your mind. You don't have to basically agree with someone's point of view, and you can tell somebody, "I don't agree with your point of view." That doesn't make you intolerant. You've explained your point of view with me and it still sounds dumb as hell, sorry. Do you think I'm becoming more tolerant? Have I changed? Not really. I think you're still kinda, still true down, like you're trying to do it, but you're not really becoming more tolerant. Do you think there's any hope for me? Yeah, I think, I mean you're working. I can tell you're trying. It'll come, it'll come. So, that gives you a taste of how it's evolving now. Right? I dove in. We did our kind of proof of concept in the neighborhood. Got some support. Hit the road. And now this is the next phase. Eight minutes, this is what this film is about, how it looks, what it's like. It's well on its way, at this point. It's a project that I'm excited to share with you. It's a tough one too, if you were trying to pitch this project, before you started to shoot it. It's a little bit like hard to wrap your mind around. It's a little hard to explain, even when it's done. To be able to show it, and then take that out, and say, "Hey, we need more support." This thing's got legs. This is worth finishing. Do you wanna see more? Was that ultimately something that you thought, "This yeah, I could continue." I can imagine that there's ways it could progress. Also, you have a very clear sense that the goal is within reach. I'm not just blowing hot air here. I'm gonna make this incredible film and it's gonna capture the voices of many, many different people, but they're all gonna somehow fuse together. It's all gonna flow. You're just thinking, "No way. "There's a much safer bet in this other project, "that's some historical figure, "whose life we know what it's about." There's a real sense here that this is the real deal. You can imagine it, and I've shown enough material that you can say, "Oh, all right. "You guys are gonna do this, you're gonna "pull this off."

Class Description


  • Figure out what your story is and create a story arc or narrative.
  • Perform extensive research and gather background information.
  • Prepare for, conduct, and edit an interview.
  • Use B-roll footage to round out your story.
  • Master the post-production process and create a polished finished piece.
  • Find partners and funders through pitching and trailers.


Documentary film is an incredibly powerful way to tell a story, but it can also be a daunting project to undertake. How do you figure out your story, theme, and vision? What’s the best way to interact with your subject? What about all the technical aspects—from lighting to audio to editing? And of course, how will you get the funds to complete your film?

If all these uncertainties are causing you to rethink your idea of making documentaries, then this class is a must for you. Award winning documentarians and photojournalists Ed Kashi and Julie Winokur will give you all the information and inspiration you need to tackle your project and see it through to the finish.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Identify a great subject and define your vision.
  • Research your subject thoroughly and find other work that’s been done on it.
  • Choose and gather the equipment you’ll need.
  • Prepare for your interview, including formulating the right questions.
  • Conduct an interview, including setting up your lights and capturing the audio.
  • Create a post-production workflow.
  • Write a compelling pitch and create a trailer to gain funding and support.
  • Generate a variety of end products, including videos for social media and still photos.

Whether you’re looking to create shareable videos on social platforms or hoping to gather funding to produce a bigger project, this class will help you simplify the process and begin creating documentaries for clients or to fulfill your own artistic vision.


  • Photojournalists and photographers wanting to get into video to expand their capabilities and explore new ways of telling stories.
  • Budding filmmakers who need the knowledge and inspiration to get started on their project.
  • Those who want more technical information and skills on how to develop and produce video and film


  1. Class Introduction

    Ed Kashi and Julie Winokur, a husband and wife filmmaking team, offer an overview of this class on how to make a short documentary.

  2. How Did We Start Making Documentaries?

    Ed and Julie describe their backgrounds, explain what has led up to their careers as documentary filmmakers and talk about how to start making documentaries.

  3. Universal Themes Through First-Person Storytelling

    See some of Julie and Ed’s early work and listen to them discuss the importance of first-person storytelling, the integration of stills and video, and publication across media platforms.

  4. Use Visual Language to Tackle a Theme

    Julie and Ed show a more recent project to talk about how to structure a documentary and the infinite options for tackling a theme.

  5. Issue Driven & Non-English Story Development

    Ed shares his documentary about young Syrian refugees and discusses documentary story development. He talks about what it’s like to create an extremely personal project that is both emotional and newsworthy.

  6. Translate a Theme Into a Film **Warning: This lesson contains scenes of graphic violence**

    Learn about the differences between themes and stories, how to translate your concept into an actual film, and what goes into the documentary storytelling process. **Warning: This lesson contains scenes of graphic violence**

  7. Turn Failures Into Lessons

    Look at an example of an idea that didn’t pan out and learn about the mistakes documentary filmmakers make.

  8. Finding Your Subjects

    Your subjects are your collaborators. They’re with you throughout your journey of making a documentary, so it’s important to learn how to find a documentary subject.

  9. What is Your Motivation?

    Discover what your motivation is for telling a particular story and learn about finding a documentary theme.

  10. Follow Your Passion & Invest in Yourself

    Sometimes you need to invest your own time, money, and energy to do a project. Julie and Ed talk about getting started in documentary filmmaking.

  11. Client Work Vs Legacy Work

    Learn how to bring your documentary filmmaking skills to short videos for clients.

  12. Translate the Idea to Reality

    The first thing to do once you have an idea is to do a lot of research. Learn about researching a documentary so you can understand the issue inside and out.

  13. Create Multiple Products from One Idea

    Sometimes you can create smaller pieces that focus on a particular story from larger projects. Here you’ll learn more about documentary storytelling techniques.

  14. Pre-Production Plan

    Before you start shooting, get on the phone with your subject to talk about logistics, background information, and other essential aspects of the documentary production process.

  15. You Just Have to Dive In

    At a certain point, you need to just dive in and get to the work—there’s really nothing to lose. Here you’ll go over the steps to documentary filmmaking.

  16. Time & Cost for Projects

    The harsh reality of trying to get films made is the difficulty of raising money to get the job done. Ed and Julie help answer the question of how much do documentaries cost—from person hours to equipment to travel.

  17. Writing a Strong Pitch

    Learn how to pitch a documentary idea so you can clarify your vision, get others excited about your project, and propel your idea forward.

  18. Develop a Fundraising Trailer

    Creating a documentary pitch video will help you showcase your idea and raise money for your project.

  19. Identify & Approach Partners

    Learn about finding documentary partners who might be interested in working with you or supporting your idea and how to approach them.

  20. Define Your Desired Impact

    Finding a topic for a documentary means you’ll have to think about what you want to accomplish with your work, whether it be a personal goal or something more far reaching.

  21. Introduction to Working in the Field

    Get an introduction about working in the field and location scouting for film.

  22. Shoot: Interview Set Up

    Learn about documentary interview setup, including doing a pre-interview, coming with the necessary equipment, and knowing where you’ll be placing your cameras.

  23. Shoot: The Interview

    Here are some interviewing tips for documentary filmmaking, including how to prepare your subject, figure out your questions, and allow your subject’s voice to truly come out.

  24. Different Types of Interviews

    There are many different documentary interview styles. Some have a formal set-up with artificial light, some are more casual with natural light, and some are done on the go.

  25. Shoot: Capturing B-Roll

    B-roll is everything you shoot outside of the interview and is used to establish a sense of place, put your character in context, and tell more of your story through visuals. Here are some things to consider with b-roll.

  26. Shoot: Detail Shots

    Detail shots allow you to focus on something small and particular that helps to illuminate your story. Here’s how to create a filmmaking shot list.

  27. Shoot: Capturing a Scene

    A scene is an opportunity to watch your subject interact with someone else, offering further information about their life and character. Learn some key documentary film shooting tips.

  28. Shoot: A Set Up Shot

    Creating a great set-up shot involves thinking about the lighting, the background audio, and the camera angle. Here you’ll learn about some filmmaking shots and angles.

  29. What Video to Keep in The Edit?

    The film post-production process workflow is an intensive process of figuring out what to keep, what to toss, and what to polish for your final product.

  30. Identify Strongest Audio as Starting Point for Edit

    Learn about audio post-production techniques, including starting with your strongest piece of audio so you can begin with something powerful and compelling.

  31. Use Audio to Guide Narrative

    Ed and Julie discuss the importance of sound in documentary. Listen for the narrative spine, the unfolding of information, and the integration of multiple voices.

  32. Transform Raw Content Into Finished Piece

    The quality of your final cut depends on your visuals, music and ambient sound, and the editing rhythm. Here you’ll learn about documentary post-production editing steps.

  33. Building Scenes in Your Edit

    One way of creating a short documentary is to focus on building your scenes and try to create some drama within them. Find out about some key drama film editing techniques.

  34. Short Doc Created from Pre Shoot: Resonant

    Watch the final cut of “Resonant,” the documentary that Julie and Ed created for this course, and learn about finishing a documentary film.

  35. Final Thoughts

    Ed and Julie talk about why they work on documentaries and provide some filmmaker inspiration.


Elisa Correa

wow, wow, wow! what a amazing course! I learned so much, I was inspired so much... congratulations, Julia and Ed, you are excellent teachers and do a really wonderful and powerful work. thank you!

a Creativelive Student

OUSTANDIING COURSE, congratulations creative live for bring Julie and Ed in teach about documentary filmmaking. I have watched and bought a fair few courses on this subject and not one of them comes close to this. You can see the amount of work Julie and Ed have done to make this course amazing. The best bits for me are the real teaching opportunities when Ed and Julie are making their violin documentary. I have never seen this before in any course. Thanks Ed and Julie for an amazing course and letting us see inside there work that you do and sharing all your experience with us. I've never really written any feedback for most courses, so this must be a good one :)

a Creativelive Student

Ed & Julie provide so much insight & knowledge into the documentary making process. This is a high-level class that gives you a wonderful overview of what goes into making a powerful and interesting documentary film. It was so helpful to watch them work on an actual short film from start to finish, and to hear their workflow. You'll need to learn the technical nitty gritty elsewhere, but this course will help you dive into how to tell stories on video. I particularly loved the segment on doing interviews, and Julie is an absolute pro at this! Also really nice to see Ed & Julie working/teaching together and how their different skills complement each other. It was a pleasure to learn from them!