Producing the Documentary

Characteristics Of This Class:

If the challenge and reward of documentary filmmaking excites you, but you don't know where to start, this workshop will give you a guide to the whole process! Putting together a good documentary (and getting it seen) is like completing a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle the size of a basketball court - with only blue pieces.

This workshop will cover the basics of this demanding and underpaid art form, from the personal to the practical. We'll go through all the stages of documentary planning, from pre-production to filming to promotion.

This workshop will cover:

  • What defines a "documentary"
  • Finding a story, research, and finding your own voice
  • Who does what and who pays for it
  • Preparing to shoot interviews and B-roll
  • Working with others, organizing the mess: logs, outlines & scripts
  • Licensing music and footage
  • New technologies to pay attention to
  • Funding sources, markets, and film festivals

You'll also receive tons of great supporting documents including sample budgets, templates of common production forms and releases as well as a range of articles.

Who Should Take This:

Anyone who wants to make a documentary but isn't sure where to start. Some filmmaking experience is helpful, but not necessary.

Abigail Wright

Abigail Wright

Abigail Wright is a professional filmmaker, writer, producer, and information designer. For the independent film company Miranda Productions, Inc., Abigail wrote and produced four environmental documentaries that have accumulated over eighty major awards and have been broadcast all over the world. She is the senior producer of an innovative immersive website soon to be launched, working on a hybrid documentary based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and developing a TV series for kids on the wonders of food. Before moving to Boulder in 1994, Abigail acted and directed on stages in New York, Toronto, and Montreal.

This class helped to build my confidence as a film producer. I feel very lucky to have been introduced to Abigail's world of expertise. I'd like BDA to offer a feedback workshop for film producers.

Jennifer, 9/3/2014

Helpful tips from real world experience.

Courtney, 3/19/2013

I got a lot of useful and practical information that would be hard to find on my own. The instructor was knowledgeable and realistic in her presentation, she was awesome!

Chris, 3/19/2013

Very informational. Abby was great!

Nathaniel C., 3/19/2013

Excellent class. All the elements were broken down very well. Great presentation, great visuals and handouts.

Dana, 4/17/2012

A lot of good info on documentaries. The instructor was very knowledgeable and easy to interact with.

erik, 4/17/2012

Very informative!

Melodi, 4/17/2012

Abigail was fabulous and definitely knows this business.

James, 1/10/2012

It was so informative and well organized. Abbey is a great speaker - lovely voice, great insights. Excellent information.

Maggie, 1/10/2012

Instructor had solid experience and knowledge of the subject.

Cheryl, 6/23/2011

A good snapshot of documentary filmmaking.

Paulette, 3/30/2011

Abigail provided a very comprehensive look into the world of Documentary film making, and posed great tips and hints as well as caveats and pitfalls. It was very helpful!

Gabriel, 10/12/2010

A great overview of a very complicated subject, what a comprehensive background Abigail has for teaching this class!

Dara, 6/29/2010

I was looking for an introduction to basic concepts - bull's eye. Content was worthy of a graduate-level class.

Luke, 12/15/2009

The seminar was top-notch. Very informative, anecdotal, and up-to-date. You are very fortunate to have Abby on board. She is first class. Don't lose her. I hope you are paying her well.

Ken, 6/2/2009

Abigail Wright is great - very knowledgeable, thorough & informative.

Hannah, 6/1/2009

This was a great class. I drove up from Colorado Springs and it was so worth it. Abigail truly wants to inspire you and give you the tools needed. I am very grateful to her and the BDA for sharing this. The attachments she sent with forms and contacts and websites was invaluable.

Suzanne, 9/24/2007

Very thorough on details and the role of producer, including forms, logs etc.

Shari, 7/20/2007

It was great. Very informative and current.

Felicia, 12/11/2006

Informative and creative session. Class participation was helpful and fun. Great class for those embarking on new documentary.

Whitney, 12/11/2006

The session met my expectations. The Ms. Wright enriched her lecture with practical insights that I found valuable.

Maribel, 3/31/2006

The instructor was very knowledgeable in the field and a good speaker.

Todd, 3/31/2006

Lots of information, It gave a clear understanding of what goes into creating a documentry. I loved all her notes that she is going to forward in an attachment, that alone is worth 1000 words.

Kirk, 3/31/2006

Conceptural, historical and practical - good mix.

david, 1/13/2006

Very good information and exactly what I was hoping for.

Michael, 1/13/2006

Brought elements to my attention I hand't thought about previously.

Sheryl, 1/13/2006

Related Classes & Workshops

Below is a list of classes & workshops that are related to the one you are reading about now. We also encourage you to take a look at our "help me choose" page for much more information on choosing which BDA program is right for you.

Optional Payment Plan for In-Depth Intensives:

We want to make our training as accessible as possible so we offer a simple payment plan for our In-Depth Intensives. Each of the 4 payments is 25% of the total registration fee with no finance charges or other costs. The first payment will be taken when you register and the remaining 3 payments are paid every month for the following 3 months (detailed payment information in the table below). It's easy to take advantage of this option and we encourage you to sign up early since these programs often fill up fast! If you're interested, don't register online. Instead, please contact BDA staff at 303-800-4647 or email us with the name and start date of the intensive you wish to attend ( and we'll get you setup, take your first payment, and confirm your registration.


Payment Program Details

  BDA Member Non-Member
Payment 1
Paid at time of registration.
$17.25 $22.25
Payment 2
Due one month after registration.
$17.25 $22.25
Payment 3
Due two months after registration.
$17.25 $22.25
Payment 4
Due three months after registration.
$17.25 $22.25
Note: registrants using the payment plan are not eligible for the early registration discount and always pay the standard registration fee ($69.00 for BDA members and $89.00 for non-members).

Watch This Online!

This program is also available to watch or download immediately from our OnDemand program for only $50.00!

See Online Details

Or, pick an in-person date below and register to attend a live class.

Registration Fees

BDA Members: $59.00

Non-Members: $79.00

Registration Discount Applied
You save $10.00 by registering before midnight on 2/7/2015. Standard registration fees for this program are $69.00 for members and $89.00 for non-members.

Scheduled Dates

February 11, 2015

Complete Schedule:
2/11/2015 | 6pm - 9pm

Location: Boulder (Details)


June 17, 2015

Complete Schedule:
6/17/2015 | 6-9pm

Location: Boulder (Details)