Doc Lab

Exchange ideas, gain insights, and refine your documentary project with professional feedback and mentorship.
 
 
Documentaries are a challenge to shoot but what comes next can be even more complex. Shaping the film in editing, finding the narrative arc, determining the right length, even deciding if you're done shooting. And you'll need strategies for fundraising, distribution, trailers and marketing. Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan are Oscar-nominated, master filmmakers with decades of experience between them in producing, shooting, and shaping films. Bring your projects in any phase of completion (from preproduction through post) to get the knowledge and support you need to make the best film from your material.

Instructors

Jeanne Jordan

Jeanne Jordan is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker who has been making documentaries and dramas for over twenty years. The Independent said of her resume, "it reads like PBS's greatest hits."
 
Troublesome Creek: a Midwestern (co-directed with Steven Ascher) won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance, was nominated for an Academy Award and received many other awards. It was released theatrically and broadcast on PBS The American Experience, the BBC premier documentary strand Storyville, ZDF Germany and many others.
 
Jordan and Ascher's feature documentary, So Much So Fast premiered at Sundance, was released theatrically to critical acclaim, and has been broadcast on PBS FRONTLINE, BBC Storyville, ZDF Germany, and many other networks around the world.
 
Raising Renee, part III in the Families in Trouble trilogy, premiered at Full Frame, won the Audience Award at the Independent Film Festival Boston and Best Documentary at the Syracuse Film Festival. It was broadcast on HBO, Knowledge Canada, SVT Sweden and AVRO Netherlands.The film was nominated for an Emmy (Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming).
 
Jordan was Series Producer of the PBS children's series Postcards from Buster for two seasons, producing a new, international version of the show, nominated for the Outstanding Children's Series Emmy both years.
 
Among her awards are the Prix Italia, a Peabody award and an International Documentary Association Distinguished Achievement Award. She was nominated for a Directors Guild of America Award and an Independent Spirit Award. She received the Michael DeBakey Journalism Award and an Insight Award from the National Association of Film and Digital Media Artists.
 
Jordan edited two films of the groundbreaking civil rights series Eyes on the Prize which won an Emmy Award and the DuPont Columbia Award, and films for American Experience, including season opener, Amelia Earhart and The Wright Stuff. Other editing includes My Mother's Murder for HBO and the Emmy-nominee, A Normal Face for NOVA. 
 
Her dramatic feature work includes several films for American Playhouse, including Noon Wine, Lemon Sky and the Emmy-winning series Concealed Enemies on the trials of Alger Hiss. She edited the bilingual feature, Blue Diner which won the prestigious ALMA award.
 
In 1988, Jordan and Orlando Bagwell produced Running With Jesse, a chronicle of Jesse Jackson's presidential run for FRONTLINE, which Jordan also edited. She has produced and edited several pieces for The PBS Newshour and films for the PBS series Art Close Up, which won and were nomintated for Emmys.
 
Jordan graduated from the University of Iowa and began her career at Iowa Public Television. She has twice been honored with a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard and she was a member of the Breadloaf writers conference. She has taught filmmaking at Harvard and the Art Institute of Boston. She has lectured and held master classes in several countries, including Tokyo University, the CPB/PBS Producers Academy, the Full Frame Fellows Program, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, and the Aristoteles Workshop in Romania sponsored by the European network Arte. She has been a guest critic at Yale University, Duke University and Rhode Island School of Design.
 
Jordan has advised and contributed to numerous film productions. She and Ascher are currently Executive Producers of the ITVS-supported film, Deej.
 
She has received grants from the Artists Foundation, the LEF Foundation, the Paul Robeson Foundation and many state humanities and arts councils. Her films have screened at numerous festivals internationally, including the Sydney Film Festival (Audience Award Winner), San Francisco Film Festival (Audience Award Winner) and they are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Library of Congress, Harvard Film Archive, UCLA and the Sundance Collection.
 
Writing on Jordan's work has appeared in numerous publications including Documentary Magazine, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Variety, Ecran Total and books including Documentary Storytelling by Sheila Curren Bernard.

Steven Ascher

Steven Ascher is an Academy-Award nominated director, writer, educator and media consultant. The Boston Globe calls his work "filmmaking at its finest."
 
Troublesome Creek: a Midwestern (co-directed with Jeanne Jordan) won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance, was nominated for an Oscar and received many other awards. It was released theatrically and broadcast on PBS The American Experience, the BBC premier documentary strand Storyville, ZDF Germany and many others.
 
Ascher and Jordan's feature documentary, So Much So Fast premiered at Sundance, was released theatrically to critical acclaim, and has been broadcast on PBS FRONTLINE, BBC Storyville, ZDF Germany, and many other networks around the world.
 
Raising Renee, part III in the Families in Trouble trilogy, premiered at Full Frame, won the Audience Award at Independent Film Festival Boston and Best Documentary at the Syracuse Film Festival. It was broadcast on HBO, Knowledge Canada, SVT Sweden and AVRO Netherlands. The film was nominated for a 2013 Emmy (Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming).
 
Among his awards are the Prix Italia, an Emmy, a Peabody award and an International Documentary Association Distinguished Achievement Award. He was nominated for a Directors Guild of America Award and an Independent Spirit Award. He received the Michael DeBakey Journalism Award and an Insight Award from the National Association of Film and Digital Media Artists.
 
He is author of The Filmmaker's Handbook: a Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age (with Ed Pincus) a bestselling text and a staple of universities and film schools internationally.The Independent calls it "the bible." The Boston Globe calls it the "gold-standard technical reference." The New York Times calls it "seminal." Ascher has written greatly expanded new editions; the fourth was released in 2013. Over 300,000 copies in print.
 
Ascher produced, wrote and directed the drama, Del & Alex, starring Thomas Derrah and Polly Corman (broadcast on A&E and many European networks). He and Ed Pincus directed the feature documentary, Life and Other Anxieties; a newly restored version screened at Lincoln Center in 2012. He has produced and directed several pieces for PBS Newshour, films for the PBS series Art Close Up, which won and were nominated for Emmys, and an episode of the Emmy-nominated Postcards From Buster. 
 
He has directed TV spots and image, training and marketing pieces for major corporations, government agencies and nonprofits including Disney, Sheraton, Cisco Systems, Health Dialog, McGraw Hill, Biogen, FM Global, Deloitte & Touche, the Texas Rangers, and the IRS, and has served as a consultant for Web and video strategy for such clients as Harvard Business School Publishing. He has received numerous awards for his corporate work, including Telly Awards, the Brandon Hall Gold Medal, Gold and Silver Remis from Worldfest Houston, Gold Hermes Creative, Platinum Empixx, and Gold Health Sciences Communications Association Award.
 
He has produced and directed installations for museums and institutions around the world including the Australian National Maritime Museum, Science City, the House of Seven Gables, and traveling exhibits for the U.S. Information Agency. Awards include the Interactive Video Award of Excellence. 
 
He graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude. He has taught filmmaking at Harvard and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has lectured and held master classes in many countries, including Tokyo University, VGIK national film school in Moscow, the CPB/PBS Producers Academy, the Full Frame Fellows Program, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, the Aristoteles Workshop in Romania sponsored by the European network Arte, and at the University Film Study Center. 
 
He has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival, the Emmys, the Full Frame Film Festival, the Independent Film Festival Boston, the National Student Film Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival and the McKnight Fellowship. He has been a guest critic for several film programs including Yale University, Duke University and Rhode Island School of Design.
 
Ascher has advised and contributed to a great many film productions. He and Jordan are currently Executive Producers of the ITVS-supported film, Deej.
 
He has received grants from the Artists Foundation, the LEF Foundation, the Paul Robeson Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and many state humanities and arts councils. His films have screened at numerous festivals internationally, including the Sydney Film Festival (Audience Award Winner), San Francisco Film Festival (Audience Award Winner) and they are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Library of Congress, Harvard Film Archive, UCLA and the Sundance Collection.
 
Ascher's writing on film has appeared in publications such as Documentary Magazine, the U.S. Department of State's eJournalUSA, and the book, The Film Industry: Opposing Viewpoints. He contributed to Honest Truths: Documentary Filmmakers on Ethical Challenges in Their Work.
 
Writing on Ascher's work has appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Variety, Ecran Total and books including Documentary Storytelling by Sheila Curren Bernard.