81 – Hacking the Documentary Film Festival, Part Two

Hacking the Documentary Film Festival, Part Two

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 two of the special, we’ll talk with Dawn Mikkelson, whose film Risking Light marks Dawn’s fifth documentary film in which she has applied to the film festival circuit.  This is her first to play MDFF, which had reached out to her a couple of years prior when they were made aware of a crowdfunding campaign for the film.

Among the topics of discussion, we cover:

  • how the MDFF film selection process goes through a very specific panel process
  • why it’s important for festivals to be hosting more filmmaker visits
  • how Dawn Mikkelson’s first festival experience changed her entire perception of the film festival circuit
  • why it’s exciting & important for doc filmmakers to have their subjects present at some festival screenings
  • how festivals are a critical way for a doc filmmaker who isn’t from LA or NYC to casually network with other doc filmmakers or industry people who might help you get your next doc funded



Related Sources

Trailer for Dawn Mikkelson’s Risking Light:



FREE TDL LIVE WEBINAR EVENT – How to Shoot & Sell Stock Footage with Pat McGowan

Blackbox Global founder, Pat McGowan gives webinar on shooting stock footage

Don’t miss our upcoming live webinar event with BlackBox.Global founder and stock footage expert, Pat McGowan on July 19th at 7p EST.  Pat will be giving us a list of best practices for shooting and selling stock footage.  The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session, a great opportunity for you, #doclifer, to ask any burning questions that you may have about this great additional revenue stream for the doc filmmaker!

This event is free to all subscribers to the TDL Weekly Newsletter.  If you’ve not yet signed up for this awesome newsletter, well now might be a great time to do so!




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


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.

Leave a Comment