The Doc Fix

Gail and Quinn - bringing order to their first feature documentary

Right from the first lesson, right from the first one on one with you, Nigel, we started benefiting. And we looked at each other after the first session, I went, can you believe it? We have, we have a Rosetta Stone here.
Quinn
We called you and you helped us - through your seminar and through your system - to fix our documentary.
Gail
It's just paid off tremendously for us... It's a rich, multi-perspective story now rather than just this, event, you know, day-by-day, year-by-year that we wanted to bring to the public, we now have a story. So thank you, Nigel.
Gail
Gail and Quinn came to The Doc Fix when they were in the edit and overwhelmed with material on their first feature-length documentary (about the world's first Horror Theme Park).

This is a wide-ranging conversation about their experience of The Doc Fix - their decision to join the program, where they were stuck, how the course design worked so well for them, finding their story, the value of the community, the one-on-one guidance, and more… Their documentary is near completion, with distribution and festivals lined up. More to come.
You know, I wish so much that we had taken this course before we started because, you know, I can't tell you how many times I've said this to Gail along the way..
Quinn
You want to affect your audience. And for lack of a better word, you gave us permission to manipulate our audience; to say this is going to make our audience feel the way we want our audience to feel at this point in the story.
Quinn
I just can't even thank you enough for giving us the tools to really be able to sculpt this story. The system is so simple, in its elegance. It's not complicated.
Gail
I would just like to say that to anyone who is considering making a documentary, we can't recommend this highly enough. It's our only regret is that we didn't do it before we started. But it was very, very helpful to us even deeper into our post-production process to help us shape our story. Because when you told us that you come to people who are stuck, and who are having trouble finishing their documentary after it's been shot, and after they've started, after they've written their scripts, and they've begun their editing and they realise they've got problems - they call you. And essentially that's what we did. We called you and you helped us - through your seminar and through your system - fix our documentary.
Quinn



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Ryan - on how this course has given him what he's been searching for, for over a decade.

I think what you've managed to do, is you've taken in 20 plus years of experience, you've condensed it down to 'this is what works'. And I think the thing that makes it really extra cool is because of where you worked for so long, and the time crunches you were on. It wasn't like, "Oh, well, this didn't come to me this week. So maybe next week, I'll get an inspiration for it". It's like, "No, my deadline is 5pm on such a date, and we're gonna have a great story".
Ryan
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Ryan, one of our students who is based in Los Angeles, brought these issues up in a conversation the other day. He has a number of projects in production and development and so has a fairly significant amount of experience.

But the trouble that he has run into is common at every level - whether you are a first-time film-maker or run your own production company.
I've spent years in different courses and seminars and books. And what I've learned in 12 weeks of this course, blows away everything that I've spent the last 10 years learning in other books and seminars and workshops and everything else. If I could trade this one course, for every other story course I've ever taken in my life, it would be a no brainer, I would do it in a second.
Ryan
And I feel like as documentary filmmakers, like so many times, you know, people really entrust us with their lives, I mean with their story, and it's a big responsibility. And I think that if nothing else, people should take this course just so they can make sure that they're honouring that story.
Ryan
The other thing that it's really changed me as a filmmaker, is that more than anything, it's really reduced our production costs. Now in post-production, I know exactly what I want. I know how to communicate it. And I know when it's working, and when it's not working. So the investment in the course has paid for itself tenfold just in money that we've saved in post-production.
Ryan




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Sharon compares her time with The Doc Fix to Cal Arts Film School in Los Angeles

If the Doc Fix had existed when I started film school, I know what I would have spent my money on.

Some of our students are first-time filmmakers. Others have a lot of experience making short films - both corporate and commercial. On the other hand, Sharon has a post-graduate theatre and film degree from the prestigious Cal Arts.

The CalArts school of Film and Video, dreamt up by Walt Disney shortly before he died in 1966, is one of the most prestigious film schools in Los Angeles (CalArts is located in the suburb of Valencia) and is a stomping ground for many of the best animators and filmmakers in Hollywood.

Tim Burton, one of CalArts’ earlier graduates, has since been followed by a series of notable Disney animators including Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), Brad Bird (The Incredibles) and Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (Frozen).

Film studies degrees offered at CalArts include the BA, MA, MFA and DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts).
2018/19 tuition fees: US$48,660 (all students excluding M.A. in Aesthetics and Politics students)



"Yes, I have a master's degree from the California Institute of the Arts, which was three years, very expensive. They only gave scholarships to one person. So out of all my class, they only accepted eight people out of the whole country.

My graduate degree, my film, school education has led to a life of being able to support myself as a filmmaker. So why would I want to invest in another? Because I did not learn what I can learn here in that schooling. It wasn't taught. The ideas that are available in the Doc Fix are not ideas that I have heard anywhere else.

I finally realised that I - and the same thing happened to me when I went to graduate school - I realised that I had gotten to the point to where I knew that I did not know how to become a better director. And that I needed somebody to teach me. That is how I felt when I discovered Doc Fix. I knew that I did not know how to become a better documentary filmmaker - in general, a better filmmaker. I did not know how to go to the next level. And the things that I was hearing in your class made me think it's more than worth the investment. This is what I need in order to get these tools. I can't get them anyplace else. I certainly can't get them for free on YouTube.

And not only that. When you think about the amount of money that I could spend attempting to make a documentary without the skills that I need. That can be very expensive, especially if you're counting how expensive time is. And for me, time is right up there with money, I don't want to waste it.

When I came into this course, I knew that I did not know my story. I did not know where it was headed. And I intended to follow it and hope that that was good enough. I think people are going to come into this course already thinking they know their story. This course will surprise you, it will show you a whole series of levels not one, not two, but at least three or four other levels to your story that you may not have realised are there.

And I had to get honest with myself, as the days went on, and I was preparing, I felt like all I was doing was following (my subject) around. And I began to feel like even if I had five shooters and 10 cameras, and all the time and all the money in the world, we would still just be following him around collecting, you know, hard drives full of coverage.

The approach to storytelling in your course is very different, and is very specifically aimed at documentary filmmaking, which is quite different from storytelling for narrative filmmaking. In narrative filmmaking, you'll hear very similar ideas like theme, main character, act, structure, all of those things that are familiar to me. But in documentary filmmaking, this project that I'm working on hasn't happened yet. So how do you write a script for something that hasn't happened yet?

There has to be a great deal of understanding about how a documentary best unfolds, and only an experienced documentarian can tell you that it best unfolds along certain lines. And without those facts, those elements it might wander or just turn into a list. A list is the word that you used very early on, that I knew I was headed toward.

And you used a word in class last week. This is the word - your work will feel "authored". Your documentary will feel "authored". And a person may wonder how is it possible with a documentary? I'm not sitting down and conceiving of it, hook line and sinker? Act one, two and three? I'm telling you about something that someone else has done. I'm just trying to, you know, give you the high points. Well, it's not like that at all. I've learned that I'm going to decide the theme of this film. Based on what I what I've learned about it, I'm going to decide on the theme. I'm going to decide to whom is the film directed.

If the Doc Fix had existed when I started film school, I know what I would have spent my money on. This course is unusual. There aren't any others that I'm aware of that or like it. I don't have to go to a physical building, to to study it. I don't have to live in London in order to attend. And could I really afford not to take this course if I'm serious about the work that I'm doing? And my answer quickly was "No, I cannot afford to pass this up".




Matt and his colleagues in New Zealand on The Doc Fix transformation

We've made so much progress in maybe two months more progress than we've made in the last three years. It's been life-changing for us... that's worth it a million times over. So good.

Matt, Josh and Tom, are a team of New Zealand filmmakers who have a background in corporate films and commercials, and are now producing comedy shorts and series based on their travels in their country, and elsewhere. They came to The Doc Fix to build a methodical approach to storytelling so that they could produce films that are richer and more meaningful, while at the same time reach to a global audience.

I think the rubber hits the road (is) being able to talk to you every week, and you're extremely patient, so each call goes for about two hours, and you make sure everyone has a chance to talk about their projects and what they stuck on. And just having that insight every week makes sure that we progress so we don't get stuck
It's hard to know who to listen to who to trust, but the level of experience you've got and the content and the way it just clicks together in a practical sense. That's the value right there. I think that's what makes it different to everything else that I've done.
If you're making a documentary project, whether it's a series or a one-off, and you genuinely want it to succeed, and you're willing to put the work in, then you should join the course.
We've had some success in the past, but I think the biggest difference is our confidence. Now we've got something that we can use every single day. We love storytelling, and we're super excited for the future.




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Jeremy on using The Doc Fix to build his YouTube audience


Jeremy is
a content creator from British Columbia whose gone from working on film sets, to picking up a camera and then creating short-form documentaries for all sorts of commercial clients.

Here's the crazy part. I've never bought a course in my life because I've always felt I can get it free online. But there was something about this one where I felt like this was different. I'd never seen anything like this before. And I don't think there are any communities like this in the world, where they focus on this deep level of storytelling.
For me it's been incredible, because of the fact that I don't think I have other resources, I don't have a big community working on a team of a huge film. So it's just me, I'm a content creator. And storytelling is probably the most powerful thing a company can do to understand, to promote its brand. Because storytelling applies to everything I do on a daily in my daily life.
I think what you need is that desire to want to learn to be better. And I think that I would highly doubt anyone, on any level wouldn't get something wonderful out of this course.
If you create a good product, I don't care if it's a documentary, or if it's, like I said, a more commercial driven story. You're going to get more clients because you're going to be creating incredible stories that people actually want to watch. So I, I literally felt instantly. When I watched the first couple of pieces of content I was like, this is worth it for me right here. You know, I can justify that. But that was the way I felt it really truly instantly.
"I saw this course, as a way of having a breakthrough from something that I've been doing for decades now. I never have really reached to the pinnacle of where I want to be. When I submit my documentary to Netflix, why do they say no? When I look at that, and they said no, last summer. When I look at what I know now I realised if I'm honest with myself, it's not good enough.

And it's not the camera that I own. It's the storytelling aspect. I know there's something missing there. And so I know I have to keep working on it, I have to continue to work on it. And I know myself when I stay determined, I will get there.

And what's crazy, here's the crazy part. I've never bought a course in my life. And I'm in I've been doing digital marketing for like 10 years, I've never bought a course in my life. And because I've always felt like what I can get is free online. But there was something about this one where I felt like this was different. I'd never seen anything like this before. And I don't think there is any community like this in the world, where they focus on this deep level of storytelling.

And it was also really awesome to work with you, Nigel, because I think you have a very technical sort of way of breaking things down things, it's oftentimes will go a little bit above what I understand. But then you have a simple way of stopping and breaking it down into easily digestible pieces.

And thank you for having this group. Because it's wonderful that people can go into their own living room and talk to people all over the world with different experiences. And what you actually do find out is that storytelling is really the same. Whether you're doing a short film, a full-length documentary, or a half-hour TV show, where you're creating content online. It's the same thing.

I would highly doubt anyone, on any level wouldn't get something wonderful out of this course. Because there are so many different levels to it. And you can go in as much depth as you would like, with you, because you really understand the storytelling process.

I actually felt like when I just read that PDF on chronology, I thought, oh my gosh, that's worth the price of admission right there. It once you understand these things, you can create better content for clients.

The money is kind of, I don't even know how to explain it. The money is nothing. If you create a good product, I don't care if it's a documentary, or if it's, like I said, a more commercial driven story. You're going to get more clients because you're going to be creating incredible stories that people actually want to watch.

So I literally felt it instantly.

When I watched the first couple of pieces of content I was like, this is worth it for me right here. You know, I can justify that. But that was the way I felt it - really, truly instantly".