51 – The Imposter Syndrome + Conversation with Doc Filmmaker, Lourdes Portillo

The Imposter Syndrome

Do you consider yourself a documentary filmmaker or is that a term that you are hesitant to give yourself?  Is there something that is holding you back from your first documentary film? Perhaps what’s keeping you from being a doc filmmaker, or making your doc film, or living your doc life, is something called imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is a concept that basically describes the inability of an individual to internalize one’s accomplishments as well as having a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.  And I’m confused that so many of us doc filmmakers experience at some point in time in our own doc lives.  Which is what we’ll take a look at in our opening segment of today’s podcast. We’ll discuss:

  • Definition of imposter syndrome and how it applies to us #doclifers
  • why you are already a filmmaker qualified to make a documentary
  • how you can overcome the fear that you are under-qualified to make your doc film


Podcast Conversation

In our shared conversation with a doc industry guest segment, I sat down with Academy Award and Emmy Award-nominated doc filmmaker, Lourdes Portillo.  On the eve of her being awarded the prestigious International Documentary Association (IDA)’s Career Achievement Award, we have a frank and open conversation about the state of documentary: what it has meant for her in her life as well as what it might mean for future doc filmmakers and..

  • how she became an Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker with her first film without ever having any prior filmmaking experience
  • how aspiring filmmakers today make the mistake of concentrating on all of the shiny and latest camera gear and forget the most important element to a documentary: story
  • advice for writing your first grants for your first projects
  • what it means to be awarded an IDA Career Achievement Award


Related Resources


Trailer for Lourdes Portillo’s brilliant personal documentary The Devil Never Sleeps – as discussed in the episode – can be seen here:




Top Resources



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Host and TDL Founder, Chris G Parkhurst

Chris is a documentary filmmaker and the founder and host of The Documentary Life, a platform which aims to inform and inspire documentary filmmakers from around the globe.

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