What’s the DOC Institute?

The DOC Institute develops and leads programs to help filmmakers succeed at every stage of their careers. Offering creative inspiration and insider advice, we’re a hub for the non-fiction community. The DOC Institute is a one-stop shop for professionals to learn business skills, hone their craft and make industry connections.

Our beliefs

1We’re guided by Canada’s brilliant documentary principles and tradition.

2Those aren’t just a bunch of projects. They’re jobs and careers.

3Deep hands-on learning comes from real world pros. No shallow tips.

4Learning needs are as diverse as our filmmakers. One size does not fit all.

5Success takes business skills, perseverance, creativity and connections.

6You can make it!

Can you help me?

The DOC Institute is for everyone involved in making non-fiction and docs. Whether you’re a director, producer, editor, cinematographer, researcher, writer, interactive producer, jack-of-all-trades or “it’s complicated”, you’re welcome at the DOC Institute. Familiar faces include:

The Lone Wolf

You want inspiration, feedback or collaboration.

The Rookie

You want to start a lifelong career—from scratch.

The Networker

You want to meet funders, partners and supporters.

The Sophomore

You want projects to succeed and a path that sustains.

The Starving Artist

You want real-world business and negotiating skills.

The Veteran

You want to stay ahead, get back on top, or grow.

Does my project fit?

The DOC Institute is dedicated to non-fiction of all flavours and formats. That includes POV theatrical documentaries, non-scripted TV series, interactive docs, non-fiction games, non-fiction shorts and more. If it’s influenced or inspired by the documentary tradition, it counts!


Producers Exchange

Pick up real-world business skills. Become more savvy, professional, competitive and confident.

Everything you need to know about producing non-fiction. Led by top producers and stuffed with real-world insight, this bootcamp covers topics like funding and financing, business affairs and legal, distribution and marketing, and accounting and budgeting. 2-day crash course.

Find out more about the Essentials Bootcamp.

Get Hot Docs-ready. This rigorous and intimate market-preparation course mentors 8 emerging, high-potential producers as they get ready to successfully pitch and sell their projects at Hot Docs.

The application deadline for the 2014 Breakthrough Program has passed. Please contact us if you have questions or if you would like to receive updates on this program.

The Breakthrough program is made possible with the generous support of its founding sponsor, the Ontario Media Development Corporation.


Need a refresher? This flexible, in-depth program builds on our Essentials Bootcamp. Emerging, mid-career and experienced filmmakers can choose modules like Funding & Financing, Business Affairs, Legal, and Marketing and Distribution. Starts Fall 2014.

Commitment-phobic? Our pop-up Savvy Producer Clinics are held throughout the year to help you prepare for funding applications and other key opportunities.

Thinking long-term? These intensive sessions are for established industry veterans to interact with leading consultants (both from inside and outside the industry). Discuss pressing concerns, future trends, and how they’ll impact the sustainability of production companies.

Meet current industry decision-makers, buyers, and private investors face to face! Learn about their latest programming priorities, which types of projects are being green-lit, how big their budgets are, and how to get your foot in the door.

Masters Series

Hone your craft, professionally and creatively. Strengthen your process, get inspired and create better projects. Register now

This intimate professional development series focuses on the craft and art of documentary media. Celebrated documentary filmmakers and other acclaimed pros (including editors, cinematographers and sound design) share their expertise and experiences.

Find out more about the 2014 Masters Series Classes.

The Masters Series is supported by ArtsVest – Business for the Arts and the Toronto Arts Council.

Polish your project in a structured, supportive space. The Masters Series Lab is a forum for you to constructively workshop and improve your project, guided by our guest Master and encouraged by your fellow participants.

Find out more about the 2014 Masters Series Labs.

How did the hottest non-fiction projects succeed? Meet the teams behind incredible, buzz-worthy work—and learn how their processes, challenges, and decisions shaped the outcome. It’s a special insight into our industry’s pioneers, mavericks and masters in the making.

DOC Connects

Make connections outside the usual broadcast and festival scene. Meet stakeholders in promising sectors.

Explore opportunities in the educational market. In this series, non-fiction creators learn how to make projects more classroom-friendly while teachers learn about the great docs available—and how to use them for powerful educational experiences.

Docs in Class is made possible with support from the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

Discover new audiences and uses for documentaries in the third sector. Engage with social service agencies, community groups, non-profits, and linguistic communities that are eager to use non-fiction for richer dialogues and activism.

Docs for Change is generously funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

This free documentary screening and public discussion series is focused on community engagement and activism. These screenings of local docs link Torontonians to important social issues of our time.

Community Connections is generously funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.


DocTorontoThe DOC Institute is an initiative of the Documentary Organization of Canada, Toronto Chapter. After several vital Canadian programs for filmmakers closed their doors, we felt something was missing for the community and for our careers. We’ve stepped up to fill the gap by strengthening our hub and expanding and formalizing our professional development offering.

We undertook a series of extensive interviews with documentary practitioners we knew and those we didn’t. We spoke to people of all experience levels, checking in with them about their career objectives and challenges, and asking what else we could do to support their journey. We found incredibly diverse projects, goals and dreams — but many common needs.

With our strong programming track record (including conceiving Hot Docs and POV Magazine), and our deep roots in advocacy, we realized we could help in a meaningful way. So here we are — a first of its kind in Canada — the DOC Institute.

Our friends

This list will continue to grow, but thanks to our inaugural group of moral supporters!

Jennifer Baichwal

Jennifer Baichwal

John Kastner

John Kastner

Shelley Saywell

Shelley Saywell

Manfred Becker

Manfred Becker

Barry Stevens

Barry Stevens

Kevin  McMahon

Kevin McMahon

Interested? Get involved or contact us.