Moving towards a more inclusive and sustainable production model
There is no monetary profit in documentary filmmaking that tell stories that that need to be told precisely because in mainstream production efforts it is the bottom line, not the story, that matters most. As production executives in Hollywood and with the Charlottesville-based Heritage Film Project, the for-profit film production company we founded in 2008, Soledad Liendo and I understand this trade-off between story and profit; we have been there ourselves.
However, during the last decade we’ve also learned that the untold stories that often do not appeal to for profit production companies have been some of the most artistically and emotionally rewarding for us at Heritage Film Project. I can think of, to name just a few those produced over the last few years, despite COVID and with very limited funding, documentaries such as “Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement,” “Rita Dove: An American Poet,” “The Other Madisons,” “A Soldier’s Dream,” and “At Home with Alice Parker.” What an extraordinary journey this has been. And what a privilege it has been to document such creative, courageous, and inspirational individuals. Through these films we have discovered a special interest and talent for exploring the lives of artists, poets, scientists, composers, and social thinkers and activists. Their life’s work is transformational; their quiet, sometimes unappreciated, heroism cries out for documentation and for audiences beyond their particular fields. Our films are now available in public and academic libraries through well-respected distribution channels so that they can be accessed easily by teachers, students, and researchers worldwide. Our documentary catalogue has been explored by over one million viewers, across four continents and in many different languages.
We are grateful to our documentary film subjects; the opportunity to work with them has confirmed our faith in the extraordinary potential of creative individuals, no matter their field, to unlock human potential and to help us build more equitable, more inclusive, more just communities. We also are grateful to our friends here in Charlottesville, from our original home in Argentina, and from around the world for their support and counsel.
Our viewers and friends are telling us to adopt a nonprofit model so that we can take on more “stories that need to be told” and make it possible for our champions to make tax deductible donations for these important projects. That’s why we are establishing the Documentary Film Fund, a 501C3 organization, as a stand-alone but complementary organization to Heritage Film Project.
We look forward to sharing news about documentary film projects in development and our plans for institutional partnerships, and we welcome suggestions for new projects as well.
19 July 2021