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How to Make Your First Docuseries (#180)

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Hey it’s Fei, host for the Feisworld Podcast! I’m here to make an announcement for a new mini series, where I’m going to share with you every other week starting Friday Oct 12th, 2018. These minis come out in between our regular interview format episodes.

Mini Series, What’s That?

Mini episodes aren’t new to Feisworld. They are bite-sized content, generally 10 mins or less, where I aim to share, reflect and teach you a few things I learned along the way. Instead of sharing minis one at a time, and often with topics that are independent from one another, I decided to curate mini series where I get to dive deeper into the topics that are really going to help you from documentary filmmaking to podcasting to project management. We will include worksheets for many of these episodes so that you can download them right away and begin working on your own project. For each worksheet, you get a clean-slate as well as an example from Feisworld. 

First mini series: How to make your first docuseries

In 2018, I bootstrapped the production of the first Feisworld Docuseries. It is the most challenging and rewarding project I’ve ever accomplished. Docuseries (aka episodic documentaries) share many elements in common with documentary. If you’ve been “cooking” some ideas, this series could help make it a reality.

From ideation, planning to budgeting, traveling on the road, post-production, marketing, festival submissions, working with distributors, I’m going to cover many topics throughout the entire lifecycle of docuseries filmmaking. What’s also quite exciting is that I’m producing many of these mini episode in near realtime. As of October 15th 2018, we’ll be done with production/shooting of the docuseries. Starting mid October we’ll be knee-deep into post-production with an expected launch date of our first docuseries in early 2019. 

We are a small team of 4 people – Producer, Director, Editor and me. We’ve also hired others on a project-basis who worked as sound engineers and production assistants  

Other Great Resources

In addition to what you are about to hear and learn,  I want to point out two very popular and useful resources.

One resource called IDA: https://www.documentary.org/. IDA offers lots of useful information and can be used as your one-stop-shop for documentary filmmaking from planning, budgeting to applying for funding, finding sponsorships, etc.

Another great resource is called PBS POV: http://www.pbs.org/pov/filmmakers/resources/ in their own words “Use POV’s free and comprehensive resources to get your project made and seen. Find grant information, public television initiatives, engagement strategists, film festivals, new media funding and more.”

Wait, then what’s the point of me blogging and recording this episode?

There’s no one way to produce a documentary. There are no precise steps or recipe for success to follow. Even if you find someone who’s done just what you are looking for (that’s great), but you are going to find out sooner or later that your path isn’t going to be the same, which is why making a documentary is so exciting. 

What attracted me to create this series is that I’m doing this while learning how to do it. It’s part teaching and part journaling. Instead of seeking perfection, we have to be incredibly nimble and fail fast and fail often. Because time and budget are both limited for us, we need to focus on critical path as a team.

Why Did I Create This?

I hope this mini series and all the future ones will inspire you to share your message, do something you believe in. Even if financial gains don’t follow right away, you’ll learn so much along the way about yourself and those around you who are eager to make a difference. 

The first step is often the most difficult, which is to give yourself a chance, the permission to pursue something that may or may not work. 

There’s no easy way to unblock yourself. No one feels externally cheerful and certain. The one thing I can never be more thankful of is my tribe of mentors and friends who have given me both the courage and support to discover my new self.


About the Feisworld Mini Series
How to Produce a your First Small Budget Docuseries

This mini podcast series was launched in November 2018 as part of Feisworld Podcast, releasing new episodes every 2-3 weeks with learnings captured and distilled from Feisworld Docuseries. You don’t need a fancy degree or a big budget. Our minis are built in with templates and examples you can use right away. Everything in plain English, and no industry jargons.

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