Read Hank and Jilann’s Sundance Film Festival blog,

written as they went through the rollercoaster experience of premiering a film at this world-renown documentary film competition for the first time.





Documentor Blog
Writing Doc Treatments and Scripts

A documentary treatment is an invaluable tool to have throughout the development and production phases of your film. It can help you fundraise, gather in-kind resources, hire crew, and more. Here is a template that will help to prompt you if you're not familiar with the format of a treatment. 


Also, here is a basic documentary script template, as well as an example of a script using this template. 





An Interview with Jilann

Jilann was recently interviewed by Dan Schneider for Dan interviews artists and thinkers of our time. In these excerpts, get insight into Jilann and Hank's documentary filmmaking process and Jilann's philosophies on the medium. 

DS: In the last few years I have discovered a bevy of young and beginning documentary filmmakers that I believe are deserving of and in need of greater exposure for their often neglected art form. With this in mind, this DSI is with not only a film director, but a film producer named Jilann Spitzmiller. I discovered her work when I picked up a DVD copy of her and her director husband Hank Rogerson's 2006 BBC documentary film Shakespeare Behind Bars. Before I go into more detail on that film, and forthcoming documentaries or feature films, let me first welcome you, Jilann, and give you an opportunity to tell the readers a bit more about yourself: who you are, what you've done in your life, what your goals are (and if you feel you've achieved them), and also your place in the film world, etc.

JS: Thank you so much for this opportunity for deep reflection. It comes at a really fortuitous time in my life.
I am basically an artist, and always have been. The media I'm working in change, shift, evolve, but storytelling is always at the core of my work, whether it is writing, web site creation, painting or filmmaking. Another thing that is always at the core of my work, whether I was conscious of it or not, is spiritual exploration. Looking back, all the stories I've elected to tell (most of them with Hank), involve a deep level of searching for the human connection to a higher power and a questioning of what that means to us and how it impacts us. And I'm not talking religious or organized spirituality. And it might not be obvious on the surface, but it is a guiding force in my work.

As for achieving goals, I think that's a "constantly shifting sand", to quote Ben Steinfeld from our new film in the works, STILL DREAMING. I experienced a dark night of the soul recently, when confronted with some health issues, and from that darkness, I gained a lot of clarity about some immediate future goals, and hopefully the big picture of where I might be going as a filmmaker/artist. Luckily, the health issues have resolved, but the clarity has remained.

SilverDocs Report - ITVS and the Short Film


A workshop with Richard Saiz, Senior Programming Manager

I attended a very engaging and thought-provoking workshop with the ever eloquent and incisive Richard Saiz. It was an interactive session where Saiz posed the possibility of the short form documentary taking on more prominence in the near future because of the streaming video audience. His theory is that the traditional ½ hour doc is a hard length to program on television, but a perfect length for online viewers, whose online attention span has grown from 2 minute YouTube videos to actually viewing films and programs up to 25 – 27 minutes in length at an average sitting. And he added that online viewers are beginning to seek richer content and better produced material as well.

“Nobody’s an expert when it comes to this new landscape,” Richard said. “But it’s clearly not all about ‘appointment watching’ or the TV grid anymore.”

SilverDocs Report - Producing for Public TV

Moderator, Chris Hastings, Managing Producer/Editorial Manager, WORLD Channel/WGBH Lab
Presenters – Tim Mangini, Director of Broadcast, Frontline/WGBH
Chris White, Director of Programming, American Documentary / P.O.V.
Robert Bahar, Filmmaker, “Made in L.A.”; Co-founder, Doculink

Work-flow, Work-flow, Work-flow

This was an informative panel that was more about the technical aspects of producing for television rather than about content. All the panelists agreed on the basic premise that the tech landscape is constantly changing and as we go from a tape-based world to a digital file world, producers need to become more involved and more knowledgeable about work-flow. It’s not a step that can be skipped.

Tim suggested thinking “about your project from the back-end forward”. You don’t always know where your project will be distributed, but count on any possibility.

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