Documentary Organization of Canada

The Documentary Organization of Canada is a non-profit organization representing the interests of independent documentary filmmakers in Canada. Founded as the Canadian Independent Film Caucus in the 1980s, DOC is the collective voice of independent documentary filmmakers across Canada.
DOC advocates for documentary filmmakers nationwide on issues that affect the industry, and offers professional development workshops and networking opportunities. DOC was a founder of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in 1995, and of the national magazine Point of View.
Board chair John Christou said in 2009, "Being a documentary filmmaker is a privilege, not a right. If you want to create a documentary, you have to fight, scrape, beg, steal, sell, borrow and perform other innumerable unpleasant acts. But when it works, it's pure and wonderful."


The Documentary Organization of Canada is the collective voice of independent documentary filmmakers across Canada. It is a member driven organization dedicated to promoting, supporting and developing the art form of documentary filmmaking.
In 2008, DOC celebrated its 25th anniversary. It was founded by a dozen independent filmmakers who were invited and brought together by Cinema Canada magazine to a round table discussion of the film production scene. The following year, in 1983, a different group of filmmakers began meeting on their own in Toronto. These documentarians got together to discuss collective benefits, but it was a vital need for political representation and advocacy that inspired the group to create an organization of independent documentary filmmakers. They founded what would later be called the Canadian Independent Film Caucus, which was subsequently incorporated as the Documentary Organization of Canada in 2003.
Today, DOC has more than 875 members across the country with chapter organizations in British Columbia, Alberta, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau, Quebec and the Atlantic region.


DOC actively advocates on behalf of documentary filmmakers to obtain representation in forums where decisions are made about the production and distribution of documentary films and videos. Specifically, DOC seeks to strengthen institutions, funders, broadcasters, distributors, co-ops, and exhibitors which contribute to the production of independent film and video in Canada. DOC also attempts to eliminate conflicts between different sources of funding for documentary film.
DOC and its member organizations across the country also promote access to broadcast windows across the whole range of television outlets and promote increased distribution opportunities for documentary films through theatrical release, television, and non-theatrical and home video markets. DOC also works to ensure that broadcasters and government institutions make all documentary archival material available to independent filmmakers freely, efficiently, and at a reasonable cost.
Today, DOC's advocacy efforts concentrate around three major policy issues: the licence renewals of the private conventional television stations, the arrival of the Canadian Media Fund, and copyright consultations with the federal government.

Getting Real

In 2011, DOC released a report examining the state of the documentary film industry from 2006 to 2009: Getting Real 4: An Economic Profile of the Canadian Documentary Industry. According to one media commentator, the report reveals, "a dire period in the Canadian documentary landscape...the industry is in distress." While there's been a positive 77% increase in attendance at documentary film festivals across Canada, production in documentary films dropped to its lowest level in six years and English-language sector production dropped by a whopping $52 million. The report reveals that one of the main obstacles is distribution: broadcasters are increasingly turning to lifestyle and reality shows for their programming and it is increasingly difficult for documentaries to get air time. As another media outlet put it: "The industry is still reeling from the effects of declining funding from broadcasters and sources such as the former Canadian Television Fund, now the Canadian Media Fund."


Giving Voice

In 2010, DOC with CBC’s documentary announced the establishment of a documentary masters apprenticeship program, Giving Voice: Filmmakers Working with Filmmakers.
The program is the extension of DOC’s widely attended public Masters’ Speaker Series, Filmmakers Talking to
Filmmakers. Giving Voice is designed for documentary professionals transitioning to the next stage of their career. The program offers the apprentice the opportunity of in-the-field training with a veteran master of the documentary craft. The chosen apprentices work with the masters for a period of four months during production and have the opportunity to learn from an established and recognized documentary filmmaker while witnessing their creative process.


DocSHIFT is a program that facilitates new creative partnerships and helps develop innovative digital and interactive documentaries through mentorship, prototype development, project incubators, training workshops, interviews with innovators in the field, case study research and networking opportunities. It also includes the docSHIFT Index, a comprehensive library of digital documentaries.
DocSHIFT is an initiative of chapter organization, DOC Toronto, and is made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, in partnership with the CFC Media Lab, Hot Docs, the National Film Board of Canada, Ryerson University, and the Bell New Media Fund.

Allan King Memorial Fund

In 2009, a documentary film giant, Allan King died and the documentary community came together to mark the loss with the creation of the Allan King Memorial Fund. The purpose of the commemorative fund was not only to honour their colleague, but to put money into the hands of the independent documentary filmmakers of the future. The fund was established by DOC with the filmmaker's family for the benefit of the Canadian documentary community.

''Point of View''

Point of View, also known as POV, is a magazine on documentary film. First established in 1990 by the DOC under the editorship of Wyndham Wise, it became independent in 2010 but remains in close collaboration with the DOC.
The magazine publishes feature content in paper form twice annually, but publishes news, reviews, interviews, and feature articles more regularly on its website.


Here are a few key dates in the organization's history:
• 1983 – First meetings, first intervention letter. CIFC is founded in Toronto.

• 1985 – First newsletter is sent - by fax. It eventually becomes POV Magazine.

• 1988 – Montreal chapter is formed.

• 1991 – A National Executive is formed - John Walker, President.

• 1991 – First edition of POV Magazine, edited by Wyndham Wise – Geoff Bowie, first Publisher.

• 1994 – The first edition of Hot Docs is held- Paul Jay was Chair of CIFC and Founding Chair of Hot Docs!

• 1995 – Atlantic chapter is formed.

• 1996 – BC chapter is formed.

• 1997 – Hot Docs incorporates as a separate charitable organization.

• 1998 – First coast-to-coast National Executive elected - Gary Marcuse, Chair.

• 2003 – The CIFC changes its name to DOC.

• 2006 – Ottawa chapter is formed.

• 2006 – Newfoundland chapter is formed.

• 2007 – Winnipeg chapter is formed.

• 2008 – Alberta chapter is formed.

• 2009 – Newfoundland chapter folds.