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Latest Podcast Episodes

YouTube For the Documentary Filmmaker with David Hoffman

It’s hard to refute the power and potential of the second biggest search engine in the world, YouTube. Especially for the independent doc filmmaker. Here at TDL we have long talked about the importance of you, the doc filmmaker, in fully embracing and becoming your best entrepreneurial self. The importance of building your own brand.…

Making the Sports Documentary with Gotham Chopra

Sports documentaries have really come into their own as a documentary genre. The truth is that the built-in drama and sometimes off-the-field shenanigans make for some really compelling stories. Entities like ESPN’s 30 For 30 series, HBO Sports, Netflix and Hulu’s ventures into sports docuseries, all have been making these films and really elevating the…

Documentary Film and the Music Composer with Nainita Desai

When it comes to documentary film – and really film, in general – one of the forgotten heroes is often the film’s music composer. And yet, it’s often the music that truly elevates a film from good to greatness, making the storyline and all of its visuals just a bit more rich, complex, and emotional.…

Mental Health and the Documentary Filmmaker with Rebecca Day

We doc filmmakers are no strangers to mental health. Whether by the very nature of being doc filmmakers or from the subjects of our documentaries, we’re often dealing with levels of anxiety, stress, and/or depression on a daily basis. Still it’s not something that we often openly talk about. That is, not until recently, as…

Finding Yingying with Jiayan Shi

When it comes to being affected by the coronavirus, we doc filmmakers, of course, are no exception. Whether we work in tv broadcasting, run video productions, or are freelancers, we are all feeling the impact of the massive shutdowns happening due to Covid-19. So in today’s episode I’d like to offer up some ways in…

Fire in Paradise with Drea Cooper

One of the most compelling, intense, and well done documentaries that I saw in all of 2019 wasn’t even a feature length film. In fact, its run time was only 39 minutes. But it was 39 mins of riveting documentary that was financed and distributed by Netflix, and it came from ZCDC‘s Zachary Canepari and…

Documentary Film Promotions & Marketing with Jon Reiss

The playing field for distribution, promotions, and marketing for independent documentary filmmakers seems to be changing daily. But one thing that remains, is Jon Reiss, the veritable guru on all things film distro, promotions, and marketing. And for this week’s episode he weighs in on this latest, including how social media marketing and ad placements…

First Time Doc Filmmaker Wins the Stanley Cup, with Joshua Riehl

Joshua Riehl was a first time doc filmmaker when he decided to make a film about his passion for the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League. So how exactly did he manage to pull this feat off, including getting actor Jeff Daniels and some of the world’s most recognizable names in hockey to…

Film Travel Tips and Gear Insurance

Are you thinking of traveling for your doc any time soon? Awesome. You know how much we love to travel for our doc filmmaking. And Chris has got some super useful tips for your doc filmmaking travel adventures! And whether you’re traveling abroad or just down the street for your next bit of filming, make…

Latest Blog Articles

How We’re Showing Up For Our Community in 2020

By Chris G Parkhurst

The end of each year is a perfect time to reflect on what is going right and what could be going better in your life, your career and with your documentary filmmaking goals. It is often around this time – late November and until the end of the year – that we begin to process…

#Doclifer Stories – Matthew Ritenour

By DoclIfer Stories

#1. – How and why did you first get interested in documentary filmmaking? I grew up shooting skateboarding videos and local punk shows in the Florida Panhandle. I had this Sony DV Handicam and I would do most of my edits in camera straight onto the tape. Looking back on it now, I think I…

#Doclifer Stories – Maricla Pannocchia

By DoclIfer Stories

#1. – How and why did you first get interested in documentary filmmaking? I started in the spring of 2018, out of necessity. I’m Italian and I’m the founder and chairman of an Italian charity called Adolescenti e cancro (Teens and Cancer) and I felt the need to share with the world the inspiring story…

Margaret Mead Film Festival

By Stephanie Vincenti

  American Museum of Natural History, New York October 17-20, 2019   About the Festival The American Museum of Natural History’s, Margaret Mead Film Festival, features documentary films, shorts, and other media that increase our understanding of the complexity and diversity of peoples and cultures around the world. Inspired by anthropologist Margaret Mead’s groundbreaking use…

5 Tips for Making the Personal Documentary

By Chris G Parkhurst

Often times as documentary filmmakers, we will choose topics that are near and dear to our hearts, we have quite personal connections to these topics.  So it’s only natural we choose to be a central part of our films and make what is known as the ‘personal documentary’. While some of the more powerful stories in…

5 Best Practices for Making Film Extras

By Chris G Parkhurst

When making film extras, you should be thinking of the five things we have listed here as you make your film.  Remember, you are an independent filmmaker, and because of that you are going to be responsible for selling yourself and your film.  Think of ways to be procuring extras as you are making your…

What You Need To Know About Your Fiscal Sponsor

By Chris G Parkhurst

Finding your fiscal sponsors for your documentary film is an important endeavor if you are looking to offer your donors a tax-deductible donation and obtain grant funding. There are so many criteria to consider when deciding which fiscal sponsor best fits you. After all, there can be many other perks and advantages to your fiscal…

5 Tips for Producing Your Docuseries

By Chris G Parkhurst

Producing your docuseries is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. It’s a journey that not all filmmakers want to take but it’s a great way to expand your documentary idea into long-form. Here are some tips on how to produce your own docuseries. Enjoy the ride!   5 Tips for Producing Your Docuseries   1. Killer…

Tips To Successfully Crowdfund Your Documentary Film

By Chris G Parkhurst

Crowdfunding is one of the best ways to start fundraising for your documentary. It has become a favorite way of doc filmmakers in raising funds that will either make or break their documentary films. We’re offering you some advice in order to make it easier for you to successfully crowdfund your doc film.   Clear…

Hi there! We're Chris and Stephanie.


We created The Documentary Life for you, #Doclifer, because after almost 30 years of commercial, narrative feature film and documentary work, we want to help and support other filmmakers just like you in making the documentary films that you want (and need) to make.

We lead documentary lives and our goal is to help other filmmakers lead theirs through our podcast and Academy.