Seminars, Workshops & Masterclasses

All seminars are held at the US Navy Memorial (Metro: Archives), unless noted otherwise. $5 discount (per seminar/per student) for student groups of 5 or more. $40 all-day seminar pass for students also available. Bring your student ID. Question? Email to

To download a PDF of the seminar schedule, click HERE.

Saturday February 28th

wala - law 10111:00 AM – 12:30 PMENTERTAINMENT LAW 101 – THE BASICS

WALA attorneys John Mason and Janet Fries will examine key issues involved with contracts, funding/crowd funding, insurance, distribution, revenue, business organizations, and general best practices. (In partnership with WALA – Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts)
$16 HERE or at the door


WALA attorneys Kenneth Kaufman, Joshua Carpenter, and Brian Frankel will discuss the legal issues of copyright, trademark, licensing, the use of music/sound, use of video clips, locations usage and permits, rights to images, etc. This panel will also include a conversation about filming at public events like protests and demonstrations relating to the topics of advocacy and privacy. (In partnership with WALA). $16 HERE or at the door.

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM: ACTING Panel with annet Mahendru and other cast of sally pAcholok

Annet Mahendru (best known for her role as Nina Sergeevna on the FX series The Americans) and other cast members of the feature film Sally Pacholok, premiering at DCIFF 2015, Michael Gabel,  Andrew Ballard, and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh will speak about the creation of a character from page to shoot, and how actors can take an active role in the development process. $20 HERE or at the door (limited to 30 attendees).


There are undoubtedly many topics that would be considered “newsworthy,” but how do you pick the right one? Is it a strong personal story? Or an important social/political issue? A topic with a guaranteed large target audience? Local documentary filmmakers, Carl Colby (The Man Nobody Knew), Jeff Krulik (Led Zeppelin Played Here), and Richard Chisolm (Cafeteria Man), will discuss these and other considerations that come into play when choosing the right topic for your documentary.
$16 HERE or at the door.

cinematography and technology5:50 PM – 7:20 PM: CINEMATOGRAPHY AND TECHNOLOGY: AN INDIE TOOLKIT

Learn how to navigate the mind-boggling array of equipment and format choices — what’s out there and what’s coming soon for indie filmmakers on a budget. Filmmakers Richard Chisolm and Paul Moon will lead an honest, interactive discussion about cinematography gear, and the overlapping worlds of traditional studio and independent films.
$16 HERE or at the door.

Sunday March 1st


The software that powers today’s games can be used in a variety of ways that were not possible or practical in the past. Game engines and modeling software has become cheap and or free. Now filmmakers can easily harness the power of game technology for pitches, pilots and pre-visualization. How do you get started? In this workshop, game design professors Boris Willis and Chris Wren, Assistant Professors in the Computer Game Design Program in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, George Mason University, will show you the power of this technology and introduce you to the tools and resources for preparing you next film. $16 HERE or at the door

vikram1:45 PM – 3:15 PMMASTERCLASS WITH veteran multi-award-winning documentary director and producer vikram jaYanti

This masterclass with Vikram Jayanti (The Agony and The Ecstasy of Phil Spector, James Ellroy’s Feast of Death, Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine, The Darkness of Abraham Lincoln, When We Were Kings, etc.) will focus on his experiences interviewing difficult, eccentric, larger-than-life and often notorious subjects, and the techniques and strategies that have produced the best results for his films. $20 HERE or at the door (limited to 30 attendees)

low budget financing3:30 PM – 5:00 PM: LOW BUDGET FILMMAKING

What does it take to make a good independent film with any chance of getting attention? How much does it cost? Where does all that money go and where does all that money come from? What are the financing alternatives that do not include crowdfunding? Darrien Michele Gipson, National Director of SAGIndie, will answer these and other questions about low budget financing. (In partnership with SAGIndie). $16 HERE or at the door


The screenplay is the first step in getting a film made, before everyone involved with the production puts his or her fingers prints on it. Learn how to navigate the story development process, hook financiers, producers and talent in order to get your script off the page and onto the screen from Monica Lee Bellais, a screenwriter and producer working in both Washington DC and Hollywood. The seminar will focus on all areas of development so screenwriters of all levels can continue to work on their craft. Without strong characters, the dialogue will be flat and the script will be lifeless. Don’t destroy a cool, powerful, funny, romantic, culturally shocking, or a politically moving scene with predictably bad dialogue. Participants will gain an understanding of formatting tricks for crisp scene flow to make characters come to life! (In partnership with Women in Film and Video). $16 HERE or at the door