The Documentary Filmmaker’s Roadmap is a concise and practical guide to making a feature-length documentary film—from funding to production to distribution, exhibition and marketing. Using her award-winning film Musicwood—a New York Times Critics’ Pick—as a case study, director Maxine Trump guides the reader through the complex lifecycle of the documentary Film. Her interviews with lawyers, funders, distributors, TV executives and festival programmers provide a behind-the-scenes look that will assist readers on their own filmmaking journey.

Written from the perspective of a successful documentary filmmaker, the book covers mistakes made and lessons learned, a discussion on the documentary genre, crowdfunding, pre-production through post, test screenings, the festival circuit distribution, legal pitfalls, fair use and more. Perfect for documentary filmmaking students and aspiring filmmakers alike, this book emphasizes the skills needed to succeed in a competitive production market. An appendix includes useful web links for further study, a list of films for recommended viewing and sample release forms.

This concise guide is ideal for the classroom or as a quick reference out in the field, at a budget meeting or in the editing room.

chapter 1|7 pages

Research: Choosing Your Story

chapter 2|12 pages


chapter 3|18 pages

How to Choose Documentary Genres

chapter 4|8 pages


chapter 5|9 pages


chapter 6|12 pages


chapter 7|6 pages

Social Media and Print Assets

chapter 8|23 pages


chapter 9|14 pages

The Edit

chapter 10|19 pages

Case Study: Cartel Land Edit

chapter 12|5 pages

Brain Trusts, Test Screenings and Outreach

chapter 13|18 pages

In Conversation With

Fork Films Funder, Women Make Movies Distributor, DOC NYC Film Festival, PBS POV Television Strand Exhibitor

chapter 14|15 pages


chapter 15|12 pages

Distribution (or Selling and Income)

chapter 16|6 pages


chapter 17|6 pages

Press and Marketing

chapter 18|8 pages

TV and Streaming

chapter 19|4 pages

In Conclusion