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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, November 2002

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

There’s making your film, and then there’s getting your film made. Finding a distributor for your documentary is often more arduous a task than making it. But we’re here to try to help you navigate through the sometimes byzantine process of getting your film to its audience. Mitchell Block, a longtime veteran in educational and home video distribution, presents a comprehensive analysis of the field—theatrical, broadcast/cable, and home video/educational—and offers a set of rules and guidelines for considering the possibilities of distribution, and its many permutations, obstacles and opportunities. He also has compiled an up-to-the-minute directory of players in the field—mainly in the US—that will, it is hoped, help to get you started as you consider the life beyond your film as you’re making it. Or, as Block recommends, before you make it. Although this directory is as comprehensive as we can make it, we do nonetheless apologize for any errors and omissions. And we acknowledge that the players will no doubt change as, say, economic circumstances change; some will drop out, some will merge with others, some will shift their priorities and emphases.

And again there’s also making your film, and having it vivisected by a coterie of fellow filmmakers, film scholars, curators and programmers. Filmmaker Michael Galinsky shares his experience of attending the weeklong Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, an intense immersion and exploration into the artistic process through screenings and discussions of works-in-progress, established films and bona fide classics.

Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine, lauded at Cannes, Toronto and elsewhere and now coming to a theater near you—courtesy of United Artists—uses the 1999 tragedy at Columbine High School as a touchstone for exploring, in his irreverent fashion, the condition and the history of violence in America. Michael Rose caught up with Moore between festivals to chat about guns, the American psyche and working without a plan—but with a healthy dose of humor.

Chuck Workman joins us again for part two of his “Tales from the Trenches” series on the process of making two films at once. Here he talks about access—how to gain it and how to work around it if you don’t get it.

Stay tuned for next issue, our year-end IDA Awards special, in which we honor our Career Achievement Award winner (Ken Burns), Pioneer Award winner (Agnes Varda) and Preservation and Scholarship Award winner (the UK-based Imperial War Museum). You can check out the Distinguished Documentary Achievement Award nominees in this issue, and place your bets! Next time, we’ll also look at Marco Williams and Whitney Dow’s Two Towns of Jasper, and Alan and Susan Raymond’s final return to An American Family, 30 years after the celebrated telecast.


Yours in actuality,

Thomas White