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Bait Your Hook: Create Your Best Documentary Sample and Trailer

In order to succeed, documentaries need a strong base of support - first to get made, then to be seen. A sample reel is a filmmaker's best chance at fundraising, and a great trailer helps to hook an audience. This event will discuss the secrets to a strong sample or trailer, and will include filmmakers, funders and broadcast gatekeepers. Four NYWIFT members will receive an opportunity to screen trailers for critique.


Doug Block
is an internationally acclaimed documentary director, producer and consultant whose latest film 112 Weddings, will premiere June 30 on HBO. His award winning body of work includes The Kids Grow Up, 51 Birch Street, Home Page and The Heck With Hollywood!  His producing credits include Silverlake Life, Jupiter’s Wife, Paternal Instinct, A Walk Into the Sea, The Edge of Dreaming, and Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. Block is also the founder of The D­-Word, an online discussion forum for documentary professionals worldwide.
Twitter at: @DougBlock

Sabrina Schmidt Gordon
 has been producing and editing award winning documentaries for over a decade. Her latest film, Documented—the story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas' life as an undocumented American and his fight for immigration reform—has just been acquired by CNN Films for broadcast in 2014.  Gordon's other credits include the acclaimed documentaries, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes and Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter. She teaches at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, serves on many media panels, juries and boards, and is a contributing editor at The New Black.

Judith Helfand
turns corporate corruption and environmental justice into personal, highly charged and entertaining work. Her films include the Sundance Award winning Blue Vinyl, its Peabody Award winning prequel A Healthy Baby Girl and The Uprising of '34. She received a United States Artist Fellowship in 2007 and a MacArthur Grant for her current project Cooked, an exploration into extreme disparity, heat and the politics of disaster. Helfand co-founded Working Films in 1999 and Chicken & Egg Pictures in 2005, where she is currently Creative Director. She helped to produce the Oscar nominated and Dupont winning short The Barber of Birmingham and executive produced Brooklyn Castle, Semper Fi: Always Faithful and Private Violence, which premiered at Sundance 2014.

Cynthia López
 is the Executive Vice President of American Documentary at POV and Co-Executive Producer of its public televsion series POV. She has forged innovative media partnerships with Harpo Studios, Nightline, The Discovery Channel, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, The Moth, Netflix, The New York Times, Pentagram, Inc., StoryCorps, Al Jazeera, NPR and WNYC. She is the founding chair and a trustee of NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers), serves on the board for Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) and the World Bank Connect4Climate 2013 jury. She has been a featured speaker at many prestigious universities, as well as the MoMA, New Museum and the Apollo Theater.

Fernanda Rossi
has collaborated on more than 500 fiction scripts, documentaries and fundraising samples, including two documentaries nominated for an Academy Award® and many that received funding from ITVS and National Film Board of Canada. She has given lectures in more than 12 countries and at world markets such as Hot Docs and Sheffield Doc/Fest. In addition, she is a trainer for special programs and grant evaluator for foundations. Her book Trailer Mechanics: How to Make Your Documentary Fundraising Demo, 2nd Edition, has become somewhat of a bible on demo production to industry professionals.

Marcia Rock, Moderator has produced 12 documentaries since 1984 and received many awards including two local Emmys. Her work covers international dilemmas, women’s issues and personal perspectives.  She recently completed two films on veterans, Warriors Return, about the struggle with Post Traumatic Stress by Navajo veterans, and Service: When Women Come Marching Home, about women veterans’ transition from active duty to civilian life.  From the plight of salt harvesters in Ghana to the changing role of women in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, Marcia uses her insight and personal style of filmmaking to reveal women in a changing world. Marcia is the director of News and Documentary at the NYU Carter Journalism Institute and she co-authored with Marlene Sanders, Waiting for Primetime: The Women of Television News.

Produced by Maria Pusateri, Carol Cassidy, Veena Rao

Join the conversation on Twitter: #nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts