How Niche Filmmaking Can Move Your Career Ahead
Julie Cohen has made & distributed 13 films in 10 years. Here’s how.
We all know that getting your first film made is hard. With the added pressure of expectation, getting a second made can be even harder. And then there are the Julie Cohens of the world. My guest on this episode, Cohen is a documentary filmmaker who has completed and distributed eight feature docs and five shorts in the past ten years, and won three Emmys along the way. And this is after a prolific career as a producer at NBC, where she produced more than 20 hour-long and two-hour programs for DATELINE, the network’s flagship investigative news show.
Cohen has been able to sustain this career in part by connecting with niche audiences through very subject-specific films, like her celebrated documentary The Sturgeon Queens about the famed lox and herring business Russ & Daughters in New York City. The filmmaker’s latest, available on iTunes now, is called American Veteran. It tells the story of Army Sergeant Nick Mendes, who was paralyzed from the neck down by a massive improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2011, when he was 21. The film, which follows Mendes through the five year period after his injury, was recently certified by the veterans rights group Got Your Six as one of their "6 Certified" films for fair depiction of veterans.
We sat down just before Veteran’s Day to discuss the new film, as well as tips she learned at DATELINE that help speed up production, how to reach niche audiences to market your work, and steps for sustaining your career in our unpredictable business.