Alex has been a huge fan of documentaries for a long time. He has had the pleasure of speaking to Oscar® and Emmy® winning documentarians on the show. Here is a collection of the best documentary filmmaker podcasts IFH has to offer. From using NFT and Blockchain to making millions with self distribution and using the Filmtrepreneur Method. Get ready to take some notes. Enjoy!
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1. Lynn Novick
Since seeing one of her first documentaries, I was transfixed by her power of storytelling. Our guest is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary filmmaker, Lynn Novick—a formidable and respected PBS documentary filmmaker with thirty-plus years of experience in the business.
Her archival mini and docu-series documentaries bring historically true events to the big screen alongside her filmmaking partner, Ken Burns.
You’ve most likely seen some of her landmark documentary films. The likes of Vietnam (2017), TV Mini-Series documentary The Civil War (1990), College Behind Bars (2019), eighteen hours mini-series, Baseball (2010), and many more. All are available on PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel.
Just this year, the pair premiered their latest co-produced and co-directed three parts documentary on PBD—recapitulating the life, loves, and labors of Ernest Hemingway. The series explores the painstaking process through which Hemingway created some of the most important works of fiction in American letters.
2. Kevin MacDonald
On the show, today is academy award-winning documentary and film director, and producer, Kevin Macdonald. He is one of few directors who dance the line of film and documentary seamlessly. He directed documentaries like Whitney (2018), crowdsourced documentary – Life in a Day (2011), Marley (2012), among others.
He is famously known for his 2006 drama film, The Last King of Scotland, starring Oscar-winning best actor, Forest Whitaker. Kevin has made a huge name for himself and his work over his 27 years in the industry – dabbling in commercials, films, and documentaries.
As a boy, his granddad, Emeric Pressburger who was a legendary filmmaker in the 1940s lit his passion for filmmaking. When his grandfather passed, Kevin wrote a biography in 1994 about his grandad’s life journey, titled, ‘ The Life and Death of a Screenwriter’, which he later made into a documentary ‘The Making of an Englishman’ (1995). This was the start of him becoming a documentary maker.
In 1999 he directed the Box office hit and Oscar-winning documentary, One Day in September, which is about the 1972 Munich Olympic Games massacre, featuring a lengthy interview with Jamal Al-Gashey, the last known survivor of the Munich terrorists.
This project catapulted his career big time. He then made the adventure-docudrama, Touching the Void, another critically acclaimed film that won Best British Film at the 2003 BAFTA. The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.
3. Eva Longoria
Eva Longoria has long established herself as one of the most sought after television directors in Hollywood. Named by Variety as one of their most anticipated directors of 2021, Longoria continues to hone her craft, seek new projects, and expand opportunities for others by paving the way for future women and minority producers, directors and industry leaders in Hollywood and beyond.
Her strong work ethic coupled with her passion for storytelling has led to a pivotal moment as she prepares for the release of her feature film directorial debut with Flamin’ Hot. She recently wrapped production for the highly anticipated Searchlight biopic about the story of Richard Montañez and the spicy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos snack for which she beat out multiple high profile film directors vying for the job.
Eva has also contributed writing to publications on the subject of education. She also has a contract with L’Oreal and has been named one of the most beautiful people. Her latest documentary La Guerra Civil is in this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
This feature-length documentary follows the epic rivalry between iconic boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Julio César Chávez in the 1990s sparked a cultural divide between Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans. A chronicle of a battle that was more than a boxing rivalry, and examining a fascinating slice of the Latino experience in the process.
4. RJ Cutler
Our guest today, RJ Cutler opened up 2021 with his raw, emotional, and remarkable new documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry. He’s a phenomenal documentary and TV director and producer with nearly thirty years of experience in the business. The $2 million dollars documentary film which was directed, written, and produced by Cutler centered around singer-songwriter teen sensation and Grammy Award artist, Billie Eilish — Revealing the creation process of Eilish’s debut studio album ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’
The very intimate telling of Eillish’s solid support system and family, navigating the ropes of the music fame as a young artist depicted unconventionally and astoundingly.
From college, Cutler started off as a theater director in New York for nine years until he transitioned to filmmaking in 1993 with his debut film, The War Room. The film follows James Carville and George Stephanopoulos, at first during the New Hampshire primary, and then mostly in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the Clinton campaign headquarters. Producing the film, he was able to combine his journalism and theater directing backgrounds. The film went on to win an Oscar®.
He’s taken on great subject matters and big presences in his documentaries; the likes of legendary John Belushi, Anna Wintour, and Dick Cheney.
5. Paola Di Florio & Peter Rader
Today’s guests are Oscar® Nominated writer/director Paola di Florio & and producer Peter Rader. They worked on one of my favorite documentaries in recent years called AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda.
The film is an unconventional biography about the Hindu Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. Paramahansa Yogananda authored the spiritual classic “Autobiography of a Yogi,” which has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers, philosophers, and yoga enthusiasts today. (Apparently, it was the only book that Steve Jobs had on his iPad.) By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient Vedic teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and inspiring the millions who practice yoga today.
Filmed over three years with the participation of 30 countries around the world, the documentary examines the world of yoga, modern and ancient, east and west and explores why millions today have turned their attention inwards, bucking the limitations of the material world in pursuit of self-realization.
6. Mike Dion
This week, I wanted to pick the brain of a brilliant filmmaker and Filmtrepreneur, Mike Dion. Mike is an award-winning filmmaker, marketing strategist, and multimedia storyteller who has made a living over the last 20+ years applying all the tools needed by a Filmtrepreneur. He’s found his niche creating documentaries of adventurous brevets and transcontinental cycling races across the US, Mexico, and Canada.
By using the core concepts of the Filmtrepreneur Method, he has been able to continually make money with his films for over a decade.
These core principles are:
- Find a Niche Audience
- Be of Service to that audience
- Create a Film and Products they need or want
- Create ancillary products that service that community
- Build multiple revenue streams
Mike has produced globally distributed feature-length projects like Hair I Go Again, Inspired to Ride, Reveal The Path, Where The Yellowstone Goes, and Ride the Divide that can be streamed across major platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes.
7. Julie Cohen & Betsy West
Today on the show we have Oscar® nominated documentarians Betsy West & Julie Cohen. Betsy West (Director/Producer) is an Academy Award®-nominated Emmy winning director/producer of RBG (Magnolia, Participant, CNN Films, 2018), along with Julie Cohen. Most recently, she and Cohen directed My Name is Pauli Murray (Participant/Amazon Studios), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021.
Betsy was executive producer of the MAKERS PBS/AOL documentary and digital series about the modern women’s movement, and the feature documentary The Lavender Scare (PBS, 2019). As an ABC News producer and executive producer of the documentary series Turning Point, she won 21 Emmy awards. Betsy is the Fred W. Friendly Professor Emerita at Columbia Journalism School.
Julie Cohen (Director/Producer) is the Academy Award® nominated, Emmy winning director and producer of RBG (Magnolia, Participant, CNN Films, 2018) along with Betsy West. Her film My Name is Pauli Murray, also directed with West, premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
8. Michael Rubenstone
We all hear stories of filmmakers working on films for years and years. Well, I don’t know about you but I’ve never met one until now. In my journeys at Sundance and Slamdance, I met one of these crazy and passionate filmmakers, his name is Michael Rubenstone. Michael the director of the documentary On the Sly: In Search of the Family Stone, which premiered at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival.
When I heard his crazy story I had to have him on the show. Michael has been chasing Sly from Sly and the Family Stones for over 12 years. The stories he told us in the interview were insane. Talk about passion. We can all learn something about dedication, persistence and just plain nuts.
9. Sean Mullin
Sean Mullin is an award-winning filmmaker. His critically-acclaimed feature film debut as a writer/director — Amira & Sam — won the top prize at numerous festivals and was distributed theatrically by Drafthouse Films. He’s the co-writer/co-producer of the film, Semper Fi – alongside Oscar-nominated director Henry-Alex Rubin (Murderball) and Oscar-nominated producer David Lancaster (Whiplash). Lionsgate released the film theatrically in 2019. He’s the writer/director of a feature-length documentary – Kings of Beer – about the world’s most intense brewmaster competition, which was released theatrically in 2019. He’s the writer/director of It Ain’t Over – a feature-length documentary about baseball legend, Yogi Berra – which will be released in 2022.
Prior to his filmmaking career, Sean served in the military. He was stationed in Germany as an army officer, but finished his time as a Captain in the New York Army National Guard – where he was a first responder on September 11th, 2001. For several months, he spent his days working as the Officer in Charge of the soldiers stationed at Ground Zero – and his nights performing stand-up comedy.
Sean holds an MFA from Columbia University and a B.S. from The United States Military Academy at West Point. He is a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), as well as the Producers Guild of America (PGA). Sean is represented by UTA. He resides in Los Angeles, where he runs Five By Eight Productions and is a guest lecturer at USC, AFI and West Point.
Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra is one of baseball’s greatest. He amassed ten World Series rings, 3 MVP awards and 18 All-Star Game appearances. He caught the only perfect game in World Series history. Yet for many his deserved stature was overshadowed by his simply being himself and being more recognized more for his unique personality, TV commercial appearances and unforgettable “Yogi-isms,” initially head-scratching philosophical nuggets that make a lot more sense the more you think about them. In telling the whole story, It Ain’t Over gives Berra his due in following the life of a savvy, commanding, bad-ball hitting catcher with a squat frame but also a D-Day veteran, loving husband and father and, yes, product endorser and originator (mostly) of his own brand of proverbs now ingrained into everyday life.
10. Griffin Hammond
Today on the show we have an OG in the online filmmaking education space, Griffin Hammond. I’ve followed Griffin for years and was so excited to sit down and talk shop with him. Griffin Hammond is a documentary filmmaker in New York City, known for producing DIY filmmaking tutorials for indie filmmakers, and his award-winning documentary Sriracha. We discuss how he made over $90,000 with a documentary short film.
11. Adam Schomer
Adam Schomer is a conscious filmmaker, president of i2i Productions and is known for going to extreme lengths to follow stories that empower us. Feature documentaries include THE HIGHEST PASS (2012), THE POLYGON (2014), ONE LITTLE PILL (2015). WOMEN OF THE WHITE BUFFALO (2022) and the #1 iTunes Best-Seller and NETFLIX hit, HEAL (2017).
His recent docuseries is a heart pounding and spirit driven quest to find freedom on motorcycles in the Himalayas, THE ROAD TO DHARMA (2020) and its companion online course for Living a Life of Freedom. In addition to making films, he has been a documentary distribution consultant for select films including CHASING THE PRESENT and produced their online summit as well as the online summits for FANTASTIC FUNGI and HEAL.
12. Adam Scorgie
Adam Scorgie’s plan A has always been to work hard, be humble and take chances; and it has worked tremendously to date. A father of 3, a loving husband and an acclaimed documentarian, Adam has an astonishing ability to balance his relentless work schedule and his invaluable family time.
Born in Trail, British Columbia, Adam has also spent time living in Australia, Singapore and the Unites States of America. Primarily growing up in BC’s Okanagan Valley, Adam was inspired to move to New York City, where he spent 3 years studying film and television at the renowned William Esper Studios in Manhattan.
Upon his return to Canada, Adam invested every dollar he had to produce his first feature documentary, ‘The Union: The Business Behind Getting High’. ‘The Union’ exceeded all expectations by being selected to 33 film festivals, where it won several best feature documentary awards.
13. Taylor Morden
Many of the tribe know that I spent thousands of hours working in a mom and pop video store throughout my high school years. This is why I’m so excited to bring you today’s show. We have Taylor Morden, director, and producer of the nostalgia documentary, The Last Blockbuster (2020). And if you want to know how to sell a movie to Netflix, just make a documentary about the company Netflix helped destroy.
The Last Blockbuster is a fun, nostalgic feature length documentary film about the rise and fall of Blockbuster video and how one small town store managed to outlast a corporate giant. In 2017, when Morden started filming the Blockbuster documentary, there were only 13 blockbusters around the United States. You need to listen to him recount the moment he got the idea to produce The Last Blockbuster and all the ways the universe aligned for this project. We talked a great deal about his distribution plan, the challenges indie filmmakers face, and his company PopMotion Pictures.
14. Torsten Hoffmann
I’ve discussed the importance of finding a niche audience and serving that audience with your films and content in my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur. Today on the show a filmmaker has done just that. We have Australian filmmaker and Filmtrepreneur, Torsten Hoffmann. His niche audience is people interested in crypto, blockchain, and NFTs.
Torsten’s interest in cryptocurrencies dates back to a paper on Alternative Currencies he wrote while doing his MBA. By 2013, Bitcoin piqued his interest and soon after materialized into his 2015 directorial debut documentary, Bitcoin: The End of Money as We Know It. The documentary is a concise and informative crash course about Money and Crypto Currencies. The success of his first film documentary slanged Torsten into high-profile speaking engagements at MIPTV & MIPCOM, AIDC, and Medientage, to speak on blockchain-related trends. Last year, he produced and directed a subsequent documentary, Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Future of the Internet.
Basically, he revisits Bitcoin and sets out to explore the evolution of the blockchain industry and its new promise. It asks the fundamental question; Can this technology, designed to operate independent of trust and within a decentralized network, really provide a robust alternative to the Internet as we know it?
This film has since gone on to be one of the most consumed pieces of content in his niche. From the way, he marketed the film to the title Torsten used the Filmtrepreneur Method in every aspect of making the film.
He has also launched numerous entrepreneurial ventures to support independent content creators with his passion for media and technology. If it’s one person who can break down the sometimes intimidating ideas of blockchain, Hoffmann is the man. We also do a deep dive in NFTs as well.
15. Brady Trautman and Alex Blue
Not many of us get to tick off ‘sailing around the world’ off our dream to-do list. But our guests today, Brady Trautman and partner, Alex Blue, have been living their ultimate best life at sea for the last ten-plus years while creating video content for their business, Cruisers Academy.
The adventure began with Florida natives Brady and his older brother, Brain, with whom he initially started the youtube channel, Sailing Vessel Delos, back in 2008. It wasn’t until 2012 they received their first check from Youtube, which was basically ‘bear money.’ Soon after, they joined Patreon.
Eight sailors, filmmakers, and adventurers pile into a 48 ft sailboat with the goal of exploring and capturing the beauty of Svalbard, the northernmost settlement in the world, only 600 miles from the North Pole. The sailing expedition brings 24 hours of sunlight, dangerous glacial ice flows, and up-close encounters with polar bears, beluga whales, walrus’ and much more! After 2.5 years of post-production and over 2000 hours of editing, it’s time to bring YOU our biggest project yet!
Alex, a media student running her film and photo company shooting on party boats across South America, joined the Delox crew in 2017 on a sail across the Atlantic to South Africa.