Essentials Bootcamp

Weekly, Wednesday June 19 - Wednesday July 10

4-Part Crash Course in the Essentials of Documentary Producing

Date: Wednesday June 19, Wednesday June 26, Wednesday July 3, Wednesday July 10, 2019
Time: 6:30pm-9:30pm (all dates)
Location: Bitmaker General Assembly, 220 King St W #200, Toronto, ON 
Price: $215 for DOC and LIFT members, $265 for non-members, $150 for students with valid ID. No single day tickets.
Suggested Experience Level: Early-career.

Space is limited to 30 participants

Early-career producers: learn how to get your doc projects funded, made, & seen! Our highly popular Essentials Bootcamp is a four-part crash course in the producing essentials that every working filmmaker needs to know.

Packed with case studies, real-world insights from veteran producers, and sample documents from successfully funded films, these four intensive and interactive sessions will help you:

  • Learn the 101s of funding, approaching funders, and pitch packages.
  • Find out how to navigate legal & business affairs of a doc project.
  • Navigate the world of budgets, financing plans, and production management.
  • Get advice on creating a festival strategy and creative distribution.
  • Take a behind-the-scenes look at how award-winning documentary projects were produced — and the challenges they faced along the way.
  • Meet & network with peer producers and filmmakers in the class.
  • Ask your burning questions about working as a producer in the industry.

Led by veteran filmmaker and educator Chanda Chevannes (Unfractured, Living Downstream), Essentials Bootcamp is a necessary primer for any early-career documentary professional.




Chanda Chevannes

Chanda Chevannes is a Canadian documentary filmmaker, writer, and educator. She makes artful documentaries about complex social issues that amplify women’s voices. Her award-winning films have been broadcast on six continents, been seen by more than four million people, and have inspired tangible legislative and social change. Chanda’s most recent film is Unfractured, which screened as the opening night film at Toronto’s Planet in Focus Film Festival and was honoured with the award for Best Canadian Feature Film. She lives in Toronto and is the mother of two beloved children, Hannah and Henry.


Guest Speakers

Nicholas de Pencier is a documentary Director, Producer, and Director of Photography. Selected credits include Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles (International Emmy), The Holier It Gets, (Best Canadian Doc, Hot Docs), The True Meaning of Pictures (Gemini, Best Arts), Hockey Nomad (Gemini, Best Sports), Manufactured Landscapes, (TIFF best Canadian feature), and Act of God (Gala opening night, Hot Docs). He was also the Producer and Director of Photography of Watermark, (Special Presentation, TIFF & Berlin, Toronto Film Critics Award, Best Canadian Film, CSA Best Doc), and Black Code (TIFF) which he also directed.

He co-directed and photographed Long Time Running (Gala TIFF) about the Tragically Hip’s last tour. He was a Co-Director, Producer and Cinematographer of Anthropocene: The Human Epoch which was a Special Presentation at TIFF and was released widely in Canadian Theatres in 2018. With his partner Jennifer Baichwal, he runs the documentary production company Mercury Films, and is also a principal of Reframe Health Films which specialises in short films for the web.

Ngardy Conteh George is an award-winning documentary filmmaker committed to working with marginalized, and often unheard communities, especially those that represent the rich cultures and complexities of the African Diaspora. Her directorial works include Dudley Speaks for Me (Best Canadian Presentation, Caribbean Tales Int’l Film Festival, 2016), award-winning Sundance supported feature length documentary The Flying Stars (Best documentary – BronzeLens Film Festival, 2015) and most recently TV hour Mr. Jane and Finch commissioned by CBCDocsPOV and nominated for a Golden Sheaf award. Ngardy is the co-founder of newly formed Oya Media Group, a Black women-led production company in Toronto.

Divya Shahani is an associate at Hall Webber LLP. Her practice focuses on entertainment, intellectual property and corporate matters. Ms. Shahani represents clients ranging from film and television producers, distributors, writers, talent, new media and technology start-ups, music producers and record labels. Divya is particularly passionate about supporting the legal needs of emerging artists.

Divya is a member of Women in Film and Television Toronto (WIFT-T), and Women in Communications and Technology (WCT). As Head of Events at WCT, her contributions have included spearheading an inspiring event for entrepreneurs in collaboration with the Ryerson Digital Media Zone with key note speaker Kirstine Stewart of Twitter.

Cornelia Principe is an Emmy©-nominated, award-winning producer with over 20 years of experience. Her latest release PREY took two top prizes at Hot Docs 2019 including the Rogers’ Audience Choice Award for Best Canadian Feature Documentary. Other current projects include 14 & Muslim for CBC and, in post-production, the feature documentary Send Us Your Brother with director Nisha Pahuja. Other recent credits include How To Prepare For Prison, The Motherload and the feature documentary The World Before Her which earned 20 awards and distinctions including best documentary at Tribeca and Hot Docs and was voted a 2012 TIFF Canada top ten.


Amy Saunders is the CEO and Founder of boutique PR and Innovative Communications Strategy firm, AlphaPR. AlphaPR is known for it’s cutting-edge clients, bold strategies, and commitment to values. With almost a decade in the communications industry, Amy Saunders works with clients in both documentary and narrative film, as well as music and books. AlphaPR’s past clients include Hot Docs Best International Documentary Award Winner of 2018, ‘We Could Be Heroes’ by filmmaker Hind Bensari, and Hamburg Best Film Bronze winner in 2018, ‘Firecrackers’ by filmmaker Jasmin Mozaffari.

A current candidate for OCAD University’s Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation, Amy Saunders brings sustainable foresight and trend-forecasting to AlphaPR’s campaigns and strategy in their holistic and innovative approaches. She is also the first person to ever walk two “ghosts” down a red carpet at TIFF.




Session Schedule



Veteran filmmaker Chanda Chevannes (Unfractured, Living Downstream) lays the foundation for what every producer needs to know. Drawing on indispensable insights from her own decade-spanning career, she’ll discuss the duties & skills of a producer, developing a pitch package, how to evaluate the market potential of a project, and how to go after development funding.

Other topics include:
* Developing an idea into a viable, pitch-ready film
* Writing a successful treatment
* Chain of title & how to option projects
* How to create a strong verbal pitch


Guest producers will take you through the development & production process of their films. We’ll use their projects as case studies on the 101s of production management, including: building budgets, creative problem-solving, and the challenges of production. *Special guests to be announced*

Other topics include:
* Building a schedule and production timelines
* Casting & finding your subjects
* Managing travel, crews, and gear
* Production insurance: what you need to know


In this intensive primer, entertainment lawyer Divya Shahani (Hall Webber LLP) and instructor Chanda Chevannes will demystify the language of legal & financial documents. Learn the basics of incorporation, financing plans, copyright, clearance, and keys to negotiation. And submit the logline of your work-in-progress to a draw, for a chance to receive a live consultation on your current film.

Other topics include:

* Introduction to tax credits
* Building cash flows & cost reports
* When should you incorporate as a business?
* Fair use, fair dealing, and E&O insurance


Learn how to sustain an audience through the life cycle of your film, with help from film programmers, impact producers, and directors. We’ll explore how to maximize your festival strategy, outreach & distribution, and how to engage an audience.

Other topics include:

* Marketing plans and creating a brand for your project
* How to create a release strategy
* Creating an effective impact campaign
* Thinking outside the box to find your audience


Producer’s Exchange Presenting Supporter:
Producer’s Exchange Presenting Sponsor: