Living Docs

What is the Living Docs Project?

The partners in the Living Docs Project believe that the ethos of the web – collaboration, constant learning, and iteration — offers a fundamentally new way of producing documentary. We hold events, celebrate projects and share code to explore the unique possibilities that the web offers to documentary creators.

What sorts of projects do you support?

“Living Docs” are the descendants of classic moving images, but closely resemble software in their structure and approach. Like software, these new documentaries put the user at the center of the experience. Like the best documentaries, they are grounded in real human stories and experiences.

Above all, Living Docs projects are “web native.” Put another way, the web has given documentary filmmakers a powerful way to distribute their films, but we have only scratched the surface of how it can change storytelling.

The web offers a shared commons of images and sounds, conversations, and data about our politics, our histories, ourselves. It transforms audiences into active participants. It opens the door for documentaries to become living, changing, and constantly evolving works.

What We Do

Living Docs require new skills, new teams, and new aesthetics. We support this emerging field in a number of ways:

Hack Days

We host hack days that pair developers with documentary filmmakers to rapidly prototype web documentaries. We believe that making things is a joy, and a necessary process to develop a common vocabulary between those who create the web and those who create documentaries.

Project Support

We follow and study projects that we’ve funded, supported, that use open technologies, or that we simply want more people to experience.

Documented Best Practices and Lessons

We want documentary makers sharing their experiences, their challenges and victories, and also their code. Our blog follows a cross-section of projects and the emerging field and create original content that celebrates the genre.

Code Sharing

The explosive growth of the web owes itself to the ability of others to “view source.” By seeing how the web is put together, we not only learn how to create original new work, but are given a shortcut to creating new work by building on that of our peers. We will help documentary producers do this, and to sort through the narrative and business implications that follow.

Production Funding

The doc world is changing as the role of broadcasters shift and audiences attention is fractured. New methods of supporting the art of documentary must exist on the web if this fledgling genre is to thrive. We’ll offer a path to production financing that is grounded in sharing resources, so all documentary makers can take part in these efforts.


Mozilla believes that users of the web should also be makers of the web. We support documentarians and other storytellers through the Mozilla Popcorn project, creating a set of technologies for linking media to the web.  We also run events, host gatherings, and create curricula that teaches “web making” skills and literacies.

The Tribeca Film Institute is a 501(c)(3) year-round nonprofit arts organization founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001. TFI empowers filmmakers through grants and professional development, and is a resource for and supporter of individual artists in the field. The Institute’s educational programming leverages an extensive network of people in the film industry to help New York City students learn filmmaking and gain the media skills necessary to be productive citizens and creative individuals in the 21st century.

The Center for Social Media showcases and analyzes media for public knowledge and action—media made by, for, and with publics to address the problems that they share.The Center pays particular attention to the evolution of socially engaged documentary film and video in a digital era. With public events, conferences, convenings, research, and codes of best practices, the Center incubates social issue media strategies.

Independent Television Service (ITVS) is a global media organization that funds, presents, and promotes award-winning documentaries on public, cable, and foreign television, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens. ITVS is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

The Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) inspires social change through art, education and technology. We envision a world where a diverse group of independent media makers possess the skills they need to tell, distribute, and preserve their stories through existing and emerging media. For independent documentary filmmakers, we offer the year-long MediaMaker Fellows program and the intensive Producers Institute for New Media Technologies. We also nurture young documentarians through our Next Generations programs The Factory and Digital Pathways. We are thrilled to be helping pioneer new open source, web native filmmaking strategies.

Get in touch

If you are interested in attending or hosting an event, adding code to our directory, or have a project that we should know about, contact us!