Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) launches online COVID- 19 production guide by and for documentary filmmakers

MONTREAL, Monday, September 28, 2020 – The Documentary Organization of Canada / l’Association des documentaristes du Canada (DOC) is pleased to release its online guide Documentary Production in the Era of COVID- 19: Best Practices by and for Documentary Filmmakers.

The first guide of its kind, Documentary Production in the Era of COVID-19 was created with input from the community of professional documentary makers and is aimed at helping filmmakers navigate new ways of working safely in the context of COVID-19. The guide was created in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC).

“DOC initiated this study to fill a gap for documentary filmmakers and empower them to make informed decisions about their productions based on official guidelines and emerging best practices sourced from within the community. Documentary is a small-scale, artisanal form of production and those working in Canada’s documentary sector are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19.” explains Michelle Van Beusekom, Executive Director of DOC.

The guide is based on a survey of 327 documentary professionals (directors, producers, crew), in-depth interviews with over 50 individuals (filmmakers, experts and documentary participants) and a rigorous review of health and safety guidelines from jurisdictions across Canada and abroad.

The survey, conducted in July 2020, indicated a strong need for additional, genre-focused, guidance with 91% of respondents indicating that they are planning to be in production or post- production on a new project within the next year and 75% of those who are currently working saying their primary concern is the safety of their participants and crew.

Researched and written by documentary filmmaker Chanda Chevannes, the guide is a response to calls from the community for more documentary-specific pandemic guidance to supplement high-level provincial/territorial film & television guidelines. It helps filmmakers work through ethical considerations (Should I Shoot?); jurisdictional and legal matters (Can I Shoot?) logistics; (How Do I Shoot?), as well as issues that may arise in post-production. The guide presents six illuminating case studies from Canadian filmmakers who are currently in production and provides links to a wealth of practical resources for those who are producing during these unusual times.

Download PDF copies of the guide here:

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DOC wishes to thank its partners the National Film Board of Canada (NFB); the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) for their support in creating this guide.


“Independent documentary filmmakers are currently facing incredible challenges in their work. Balancing the needs of creation with the health of safety of creators, participants and the public is paramount. The NFB has a deep responsibility to support the documentary community at this difficult time and we’re honoured to partner with DOC on the creation of this essential tool.” -Julie Roy, Director General – Creation and Innovation, NFB

“As a longstanding champion of the documentary community, CBC is committed to supporting independent filmmakers during this challenging period and helping them and their crews return to production safely. We are thankful to have an opportunity to partner with the DOC, NFB and DGC on these important new guidelines, to ensure that the perspectives of Canadian documentary filmmakers can continue to be shared with audiences at home and around the world.”– Jennifer Dettman, Executive Director, Unscripted Content, CBC and Chair, Documentary Channel

“The DGC proudly contributed to the creation of these important guidelines to help Canadian documentary productions address the challenges of filming safely and ethically during the COVID-19 pandemic. These guidelines perfectly utilize the experiences and know-how of documentary filmmakers, including our documentary director members, as well as organizations such as ourselves, DOC, NFB and CBC to bring to life now more than ever “the creative treatment of actuality”. We thank, especially, DOC for its commitment and tireless work to bring forward this vital tool to the documentary industry.” – DGC


About DOC

The Documentary Organization of Canada / l’Association des documentaristes du Canada is the collective voice of diverse independent documentary filmmakers across Canada. DOC is a member-driven, not-for-profit association representing over 1000 directors, producers, and craftspeople in the Canadian documentary community. DOC advocates on behalf of its members to foster an environment conducive to documentary production and strives to strengthen the sector within the broader screen industry.

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Spring, Executive Director
Documentary Organization of Canada