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Documentary Filmmakers Join Forces For Innovative Oscar Campaign, Do It Yourself Style

Bad PressKing CoalJoonam and Fantastic Machine are all award-winning documentaries, yet in the race for Oscar recognition, they’re underdogs. Despite the many honors they have collected at festivals around the world, each of these exceptional films has struggled to land distribution, complicating efforts to get attention from Academy voters (on Monday, King Coal did lock down a deal with American Documentary for broadcast next year on POV).

Instead of throwing up their hands and leaving things to fate, the teams behind the four documentaries have taken the remarkable step of banding together to launch a joint For Your Consideration campaign, Do It Yourself fashion. Oscar-winning King Coal producer Diane Becker, Joonam producer Keith Wilson, and Bad Press co-director Joe Peeler join the latest edition of Deadline’s Doc Talk podcast to talk about their groundbreaking venture.

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Typically, these films would consider themselves rivals, pitted against each other in the hunt for Oscar gold. But the filmmakers are intent on establishing a new paradigm. Their DIY FYC initiative “aims to introduce new models for documentary awards campaigning, centering collaboration over competition,” according to a release from See-Through Films, the company behind Fantastic Machine, “while creating space and opportunity for a much-needed conversation around the future of documentary distribution.”

Peeler, for his part, calls for reform in the Oscar campaign process, to allow documentaries that “fell through the cracks” to gain much-deserved attention. It’s an urgent topic — voting to determine the Oscar documentary feature shortlist begins next week.

That’s on the new episode of Doc Talk, a podcast hosted by Oscar winner John Ridley and Deadline’s Documentary Editor Matt Carey. Doc Talk is a production of Deadline and Ridley’s Nō Studios, presented with support from National Geographic Documentary Films.

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