Young Filmmakers Find Confidence and Community at NeXt Doc


Young Filmmakers Find Confidence and Community
at NeXt Doc

Photo credit: Maya Suchak | NeXt Doc Fellows and staff with presenting filmmaker Khalik Allah.

Early last month, 16 emerging documentary filmmakers arrived on campus for NeXt Doc, a week-long intensive program that supports the next generation of diverse documentary storytellers. The program, collaboratively organized by Youth FX and the Logan Nonfiction Program, features award-winning filmmakers sharing knowledge, inspiration, and screenings; practical workshops from leaders in the documentary industry; and plenty of time for young participants to bond and learn from one another.

“NeXt Doc upended my expectations about how much a week can change the course of your career and can alter your perceptions about your craft,” said César Martínez, a 23-year-old filmmaker from San Antonio, Texas, based in Brooklyn. Most powerful for him was when participants screened one another’s films in the common room of the dormitories. “It was organic, unexpected, and full to the brim with creative energy, feedback, and support,” he said.

Photo credit: Jamel Mosely | NeXt Doc Fellow César Martínez

Martínez’s experience at NeXt Doc was a definite turning point for him. “Before NeXt Doc, I felt I had to pay my dues in the documentary world, helping produce others’ work, editing videos for other people, etcetera, for the next seven or so years before I could consider taking on a serious documentary project by myself. Taking a risk to make a film required understanding the industry better, knowing how to learn the ins and outs of financing your life beside a project, and truly being connected to enough people that your film would matter somewhat if it got made,” said Martínez. “After NeXt Doc, however, I believe in myself to take on the films that I want to make, with the only risk being more and more growth as a storyteller.

Last week, Martínez reconnected with some of his NeXt Doc fellowship cohort for dinner in New York City. “Before the appetizers had even arrived, we were talking about how we could support one another in our endeavors and personal projects as filmmakers.” That surprised him, as filmmaking often feels like a highly competitive undertaking. “I can trust that they care, as they can trust me with sharing the most personal and intimate element of our lives as filmmakers: our vision of how we see the world and how we think our work can make it just a little bit better.”

Photo credit: Maya Suchak | Kristin Feeley and Jeanelle Augustin from Sundance Documentary Program present at NeXt Doc.

By creating a community of supportive knowledge-sharing and skill-building, NeXt Doc bolsters the confidence and creative capacity of emerging filmmakers at a critical point in their careers. “In my experience working with young people, many do not feel like they have a voice, despite the incredible promise that some of them show,” said NeXt Doc founder Bhawin Suchak. “Young people are at the forefront of movements across the world,” Suchak said, “and it is our responsibility to provide them with the chance to have mentorships, artist-in-residence opportunities… access to things that normally youth wouldn’t have access to.”

NeXt Doc contributes to the Logan Nonfiction Program’s focus on independent filmmaking that shapes public discourse, contributes to strong democracies, and provides accurate portrayals of our world. Your generosity supports creative changemakers like César Martínez—and helps to build a more diverse, inclusive, and innovative documentary film industry.