A to Z of Documentary Producing: From Creation to Distribution

New Dates TBC!

A to Z of Documentary Producing: From Creation to Distribution

Date: (awaiting dates)

Duration: 2 days (weekend)
Capacity: Max. 12 participants
Fee: £275  10% Early Bird discount available for a limited period.

This 2-day course is designed to provide an overview of how to produce broadcast factual programmes or series’, and independent productions.  Starting with the early stages of how to develop an idea, the course will take participants through development, treatment presentation, budgeting, scheduling, legal and compliance issues to the finished product – and then onto festivals and selling into the international market.

The course is suitable for absolute beginners and those who already have some experience of documentary filmmaking, but want to learn how it all fits together in order to understand how a project is managed from start to finish. 


Participants are advised to come along with one idea to discuss on the first day.  The following day schedules, budgets and legal and compliance issues will be worked through with reference to individual projects. 

Participant’s ideas will be discussed within an industry context with guidance given on how to develop their idea further.  Existing treatments, taster tapes and documentaries will be used to illustrate useful points.   And ideas will be workshopped in the group providing useful external feedback.  By the end of the course participants will be able to shape their ideas more clearly and have a better understanding of how they could fit into the market place.

The second part of the course takes participants through schedules and budgets along with a guide on how to generate the necessary legal and compliance paperwork. 

As a guide, Tracey will create a budget for a project which will be projected onto a screen.  By building up a budget line-by-line participants will gain an insight into how to run a production – sample contracts and release forms will be discussed and examples handed out.  There will also be a discussion about different funding routes, post-production, festivals and international sales agents.

Long or short, fully-financed or funded through favours – this will provide researchers, assistant producers and fledgling independent film makers with a solid grounding in all aspects of producing, from ideas generation to pitching, from budgeting to the back end and from copyright to contracts. 


  • To provide a rigorous framework for deciding which ideas to develop and to understand what makes a treatment good and whether you need a taster tape.
  • To workshop participants’ ideas and to explore how to make them appeal to funders and how to approach commissioners, co-producers and production companies.
  • To provide a guide as to how budgets work.

Tutor profile: Tracey Gardiner, Producer

Tracey Gardiner entered television after a career as a stockbroker in the City, when she joined FulcrumTV. After more than fifteen years at Fulcrum she then set up her own production company, Iridescent Films, which made the three part BBC 2 series PILGRIMAGE with Simon Reeve (a co-production with Lion Television). She is currently the executive producer of a feature length documentary, 100 MEN, funded by the New Zealand Film Commission and MPI Distribution.

Tracey started out making programmes about business and current affairs over twenty years ago but then branched out into science, arts, history and observational documentaries, putting together international co-production deals and private finance to fund projects. Key award winners include: KEYS TO THE CASTLE (BBC) which won A Scottish BAFTA and RTS in 2015; THE WINNER LOSER (BBC), shortlisted at IDFA and winner of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival Award in; HOW M&S LOST ITS BILLIONS (C5) Wincott, Best Documentary; SIGHTHILL STORIES (BBC) Scottish BAFTA; SEND ME SOMEWHERE SPECIAL (BBC) Grierson Newcomer Winner.

The Daily Mail said about PILGRIMAGE: “a truly miraculous journey”, TV Times: “a truly engaging first leg...4 stars”, Daily Mail: “The excellent Simon Reeve returns with a three-part series...illuminating, engaging and enjoyable viewing” and the Mail on Sunday said “a life - affirming new series...4 stars”

On BBC1 documentary TOO OLD TO BE A MUM? (2010) The Telegraph said: The film tiptoed through the ethical eggshells with an equanimity that did its makers proud. The bare facts spoke loudly enough...this was a perfect subject for a television documentary, because the pictures made their own argument."