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Documentary Distribution: Maximizing Opportunities

For the independent documentary filmmaker, finding one’s audience is more challenging than ever. There is more content uploaded to YouTube every day than all the hours of programming produced by the major networks in the last sixty years. The global output of feature films is about 50,000 per year. Creating a distribution strategy begins with acknowledging the media landscape is saturated with content and is fragmented.

Today, developing the most cost- and time-effective marketing and distribution strategy to reach audiences is a responsibility increasingly shouldered by filmmakers themselves. Join us for an exploration of the distribution landscape where we discuss exhibition windows, aggregators, acronyms such as DIY and DIWO, the importance of having a Plan B and realistic expectations for storytellers in a confusing, ever-changing marketplace. Our panelists will share their experiences from theatrical to educational options to help you ask the right questions and consider the options available for your project.


Caitlin Boyle
is the Executive Director of Film Sprout. Boyle began her career as a journalist, working on staff at NPR affiliates WFIU and WFUV and at WNET. After founding Film Sprout in 2009, she became a leading voice for the nontraditional distribution of documentary films and a champion of films’ power to affect grassroots social change. Her presentations have rallied filmmakers at SXSW, Hot Docs, IFP, Sheffield Doc/Fest, RIDM, Los Angeles Film Festival, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and the New York Foundation for the Arts, among others. She serves on the board of UnionDocs, the advisory board of NYU’s Cinema Research Institute and the documentary advisory committee of the Paley Center for Media.

Randi Cecchine
joined Films Media Group in 2012 as Acquisitions Manager. She has a background in documentary production and education and loves connecting with filmmakers to help bring their important work into classrooms.

Nancy Gerstman
is co-president and co-founder of Zeitgeist Films. She has worked in all aspects of film distribution and exhibition including a stint at Landmark Theatre Corp., the largest independent theater chain in the US. She is in demand as a juror, panelist and commentator on issues related to independent and foreign language film. Gerstman is also a permanent Artist-in-Residence in the Master's Program in Media and Communication Arts at CCNY.

Robert L. Seigel
has more than twenty years experience in the counseling and representation of producers, writers, directors, distribution companies and foreign sales agents concerning development, production, marketing, distribution and exploitation of fiction and non-fiction film, television, publishing and new media projects. His clients’ projects have appeared theatrically and on network, syndicated, public and cable television and have earned Academy Award and Emmy nominations, as well as, awards and prizes at major film festivals. Seigel has lectured at the Independent Feature Project, the Woodstock Film Festival, New York Women in Film & Television, the Practicing Law Institute, the School of Visual Arts, New York University and Seton Hall Law.

Kelly DeVine
(Moderator) has been the Artistic Director of the Global Peace Film Festival since 2006. She curates film programs with local, national and international groups, creating a community-centered hub that educates and inspires, while providing the resources for citizens to become change agents. DeVine has consulted for impact projects for noted, award-winning documentaries such as Bully, How To Survive A Plague, Revolutionary Optimists and others. A long-time film acquisitions and programming professional, she has consulted with FilmBuff and the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI). A key member of IFCTV’s Acquisitions team for nearly 8 years, DeVine has covered independent feature film and short film markets, negotiating hundreds of film acquisitions.


Produced by Kelly Devine and Pearl Park

Special Thanks to Marcia Rock and the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute


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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