Doc Filmmaking, Festivals, and Podcasting with Thom Powers

Thom Powers has been more in touch with documentary filmmaking and filmmakers than most anyone I know. Which makes sense, since he made docs for about a decade, programs for two of the most prestigious film festivals (TIFF and DOCNYC), and is now the host of the podcast, Pure Nonfiction .

Please join us as we have a candid conversation with one of the industry’s more recognisable voices. A conversation, one doc filmmaker to another. One podcaster to another.


Topics Discussed

  • How Thom Powers went from making HBO and PBS docs to running film festivals
  • How Thom Powers took his experience as a doc filmmaker and made his festival for doc filmmakers
  • How and why DOCNYC is one of the more unique doc festivals around
  • How Thom Powers has had such great access to doc filmmakers for his Pure Nonfiction screenings and podcast


Chris in Cambodia Series

In Chris in Cambodia, TDL host and doc filmmaker, Chris G. Parkhurst shares some of his stories and lessons from his most recent trip filming in Cambodia, working on he and his wife, Steph’s, current documentary, Elvis of Cambodia.

In Part Three, Chris talks about his first couple of weeks settling into his old haunt, the capital city, Phnom Penh. And how it has changed over the years. He also battles some serious editor’s block, being unable to delve back into his passion project, Elvis of Cambodia. And how it took a spark and a sound to turn things around for him, just when he feared all might be lost.


#Doclifer Stories

Where we share our listeners #doclives and filmmaking stories. This week, we visit with This Little Land of Mines, director, Erin McGoff, who shares with us her first experiences working on her first feature doc.


Sponsors & Thank Yous

Thank you to music licensing platform, Music Vine for their fresh and diverse music and for contributing the wonderful music that we’ve used in this week’s episode.

If you need any music for your doc project, we can honestly recommend Music Vine.

Want 20% off of your first music licensing purchase?  No licensing restrictions or number of tracks! Simply use promo code MYDOCLIFE at checkout!



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Rate and Review

If you have found value in this podcast please leave a review so it can become more visible to others. Simply click the link and then click on the Ratings and Reviews tab to make your entry. Thank you for your support!



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.


  1. Fred Bell on 05/10/2019 at 9:09 PM

    Hi Chris,

    Love your podcast, listen almost every week to you and Thom Powers. I find your show both useful and entertaining. Just finished listening to this episode, and had to get something off my chest concerning film festivals AND THEIR LACK OF FEEDBACK! I just finished my first real doc a few months ago – a 20 min. film about a desert river near Death Valley, CA and some folks committed to its conservation. I’ve submitted it to a number of festivals now, costing me a good chunk of change, and have been rejected by all of them. I’ve attended enough festivals and have certainly seen enough docs to know that what I’ve made is not crap, but I won’t pretend that it’s a festival winner, either. My rant concerns the lack of feedback from the festival selection committees – NOT A WORD! The only indication that I’ve received is watching my FilmFreeway account move from “In Consideration” to “Not Selected.” The festival submission process feels more like a lottery with very small odds. Frankly, I have garnered bigger audiences through my personal efforts of displaying the film at monthly meetings of local conservation organizations and on social media. I guess festivals will keep on doing what they’re doing – there’s no shortage of people who play the lottery. But I for one am hesitant to waste my funds and efforts on another festival submission for my next film. Perhaps if I received a minimal amount of constructive feedback my attitude would be different. Thanks, if you have read this far. I know you’re a busy guy. Keep up the good work on DocLife. Sincerely, Fred Bell (P.S. )

    • Chris G Parkhurst on 05/14/2019 at 11:42 PM

      Thanks for the great feedback, #Doclifer Fred! And, of course, thanks for being such a committed listener of the programme.

      Your comments are interesting. And you are not alone in some of these sentiments. I’ll be reconnecting with our good friend, Lyndon Stone of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival in a month’s time for another upcoming festival special. If I think to, I’ll try and remember to ask him about your feedback question. I know that in the past, many festivals used to offer such feedback. But I also know that some festivals are absolutely inundated with thousands of films. Still, it can be very frustrating for us filmmakers who end up with nothing to gauge our “rejections”. So, I’m very glad that you have brought this up, Fred!

  2. Bradford on 05/22/2019 at 5:57 PM

    Boy, does the #ChrisInCambodia story about having editor’s block, and the epiphany with “Balcony Buddha Guy” really resonate with me! Love these segments!

    • Chris G Parkhurst on 05/22/2019 at 6:46 PM

      Yes, we all could use a little Buddha-esque inspiration from time to time, #doclifer Bradford! Thanks for listening!

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