80 – Hacking the Documentary Film Festival, Part One

Hacking the Documentary Film Festival, Part One

It’s that time again to turn our attention to breaking down the barriers of that ever-elusive filmmaking animal that we’ve all come to respect and love, but few of us truly understand… the film festival.

Last year, we ran a two-part special on the subject of the film festival for the documentary festival.  Lyndon Stone, festival director of Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, invited us into his world of curating and producing a documentary film festival and he helped us better understand what all goes on behind-the-scenes of such an endeavour, as well as how we, the doc filmmaker, can best apply to these festivals and use them to leverage our film’s success afterwards.  We also spoke with two filmmakers who were playing MDFF, in order to gain their perspective on what the documentary film festival experience was like for them, and how we might best be able to learn from their experiences.

Due to the popularity of that two-part special, we’ve decided to do it again in anticipation of this year’s MDFF!  Lyndon will again tee-up each episode for us and we will also have two doc filmmakers who have had their film’s selected as inclusion to this year’s festival.  And for part one of the special, we’ll talk with Tony Zierra, whose film Filmworker has been getting rave reviews at a number of festivals, including Cannes and MDFF.

Among other topics of discussion, we cover:

  • MDFF’s embracing of the short form doc
  • how & why MDFF decided to not just simply screen films, but to build relationships with the filmmakers and to assist them after the festival
  • practical tips for the doc filmmaker when applying to film festivals
  • Tony Zierra is a filmmaker who embodies the essence of living the doc life
  • Tony believes that film festivals are the doc filmmaker’s gateway to the world
  • how Tony kept rolling with the punches during his journey as a doc filmmaker and how you can too


Related Sources

Trailer for Tony Zierra’s Filmworker:




We are honored to have been invited by #DocLifer, Nic Justice, to give a workshop in downtown Philadelphia on the evening of Wednesday 25th July, 2018 and would love to invite you to attend. We will be presenting a mini version of our The Documentary Life workshop which includes:


  • The Filmmaker’s Identity and Fundamental Values
  • Personal and Professional Finances
  • Lifestyle Habits and Concious Living
  • Building a Support Network and the Importance of Community
  • Organization and Planning Elements of Both Doc Film and Leading a Doc Life


Presentation to be followed by a 20 minute Q&A session.  We will be sharing what we have learned from over 78 episodes of the podcast and our combined 25+ years of working in the film industry. And in addition, we look forward to getting to know our #DocLifer family a little better and connecting face-to-face.

We’d love to see you there, so book your ticket today!

To check out #DocLifer, Nic Justice’s Meetup group down in Philly, follow this link to Rough Cuts Philly!  Steph and I will be giving a workshop on Wednesday eve, July 25th from 6-9p . Tickets are only $20 and can be purchased here.




Sponsors & Thank Yous


Episode #80 is proudly brought to you by BlackBox Global, creators of the easiest way to turn your filmmaking skills into passive income!



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Free Music ArchiveSpecial Thank You to recording artist, Dlay who supplied music for this week’s episode of TDL. You too can download his music or other artist’s music by going to Free Music Archive today!


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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