DOCNYC’s “All About the Short” day of panels included discussions of content, style, and new platform possibilities, but the audiences displayed the most hunger for information surrounding how to get paid for short documentaries. The second panel of the day (“Who’s Buying?”) focused on this issue, although the subject was also raised during the general panel. People are clearly interested in how to leverage this new zeitgeist of short filmmaking and what options exist for funding.
“Who’s Buying?,”moderated by director/producer Trish Dalton, presented the perspectives of folks in the corporate, online sphere – Sarah Lash (Acquisitions) and Jed Weintrob (VP Production) for Conde Nast and Dan Silver (Director of Development) and Andrew Jenks (filmmaker) for ESPN.
I never would have expected that the most creative approach to short docs would be coming from ESPN, but Silver impressed me with his interest in finding good stories and collaborating with filmmakers. ESPN has gained recognition for its 30 for30 series. While one might write off the ESPN avenue as being only for popular sports, he indicated that they’re interested in all sports (even something obscure or amateur) and are also developing data-driven films (for 538) and pop culture films (for Grantland). Most important for him were story and execution. And passion. “I’m interested in giving people starts, to nurture filmmaking.” They don’t buy short documentaries so much, but produce and distribute a lot. “We collaborate with filmmakers to see what the project is together.”