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HomeBollywoodDawn Porter Talks Documentary Finance & Lady Bird Johnson

Dawn Porter Talks Documentary Finance & Lady Bird Johnson

Storied docs producer Dawn Porter has said private funding in the documentary space could help plug financial gaps that have opened up in today’s challenging market.

The Gotham Award-winner’s latest project, revealed by Deadline in February, is a documentary about Nelson and Willie Mandela that is part-funded by the Schultz Family Foundation.

Speaking at MIP TV today, Porter said her team at Trilogy Films is “reaching out for private funding” to finance big projects.

“We will need a broadcaster but are also reaching out [externally],” she added. “I’m looking at how we make films, how budget constraints are changing [the industry] and having honest conversations with partners about how we are going to do this together.”

Porter said she has spent time in recent months speaking with partners such as HBO, Netflix and CNN about “what is working for them and how their processes have changed” in the current climate. She also talked up the growth of news studios in the more premium space such as ABC News Studios, a partner on Trilogy’s The Lady Bird Diaries.

Although she cracked wise at the start of her talk with the opening line: “I bring you news from America where the commissions are plentiful and they all come within two weeks,” Porter urged doc producers to stay positive. She quoted one of her recent subjects, Lady Bird Johnson, who once said: “You have to wake up and keep going each day.”

“You have to remind yourself not to be devastated by the changes happening in the market,” she added.

Porter’s Trilogy has made a wealth of recent docs for both the big and small screen including on Luther Vandross, Bobby Kennedy and the history of the Supreme Court.

In a world of swirling disinformation, Porter said docs are “essential” to setting things in their historical context.

“We were able to go back to the 1950s with our Supreme Court series and realize that, while people think that the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative arc started with Trump, that is not actually the case,” she added.

“Nixon had four appointments to the Supreme Court and he was intent on turning it rightward, which he somewhat succeeded in doing. So it has actually been a slow march to where the court is today.”

Porter was speaking in the MIP Doc section of MIP TV on Sunday.

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