Professional Workshops


Generous support for the workshop is provided by:

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

SUMMARY: Independent filmmaking is flourishing, but stories can be undermined when filmmakers and journalists don’t bulletproof their stories against powerful critics or opponents. The goal of this workshop is to elevate the journalistic standards of independent filmmakers, increase the impact of their stories and help them break new ground. Topics covered will include:

  • Interviewing and storytelling techniques to strengthen creativity
  • Fairness: how to prepare for public information/distortion of your reporting
  • Ethics: recreation of events, point of view scenes, use of hidden microphones and cameras, use of studies and polls, providing recording equipment to third parties, use and limits of releases, privacy and trespassing, payments and licenses, advance screenings
  • Sources: relationship with sources, use of confidential sources, the “reporter’s privilege”
  • Legal: libel, copyright law, plagiarism, how to avoid litigation

The workshop will include one-on-one coaching, as well as ongoing support for participants via phone or Skype with veteran journalists and legal experts for up to a year following the course.

WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 5 – Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017


WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Independent filmmakers and journalists with multiplatform projects that include a documentary film. Women, minorities and those from underrepresented communities are encouraged to apply.

INSTRUCTORS:  Veteran producers and reporters from the IRP and elsewhere, including IRP Director Lowell Bergman; Gary Bostwick, media attorney; and Dawn Porter, award-winning documentary filmmaker; and Kerry Smith, senior vice president of editorial quality for ABC.

TUITION: $1200. Includes course material and some meals. Does not include transportation and lodging. (Full and partial scholarships are available, as well as travel stipends for those living outside the San Francisco Bay Area. Tuition should not be a barrier to applying.)

REQUIREMENTS: Interested applicants must submit their resume, a letter of recommendation from someone who knows their work and a one-page memo explaining their project and what editorial issues it has raised. Applicants might be interviewed by phone.

DEADLINE TO APPLY: All materials must be submitted by November 15. The deadline has passed. Keep checking back for information on the next workshop, which will be held in October 2017.

QUESTIONS? Contact Janice Hui, director of special projects, at

Apply for Workshop

  • In the space above, please explain if you need tuition assistance.
  • Accepted file types: pdf.
  • Accepted file types: pdf.
    The story proposal is a one-page memo explaining your project and any editorial issues it has raised.
  • Accepted file types: pdf.
    The letter of recommendation can written by someone who knows your work.
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