Help Derek participate in the UnionDocs Summer Documentary Lab!

Derek Russell’s Summer Lab Crowdfunding

by Derek Russell

  • $2,000.00

  • $2,160.00

  • 0

    Days to go
Raised Percent :
Providence, United States (US)

From Derek:

I once wrote “Looking at the work of many artists, it’s easy to understand that we all have a unique language which speaks through our work. For many, it is the slight curl of their hand when they are drawing, or perhaps it lies somewhere in the nuances of weight and pressure. For me it is a shape; nothing more than a simple curve. Sometimes in my dreams curves compound into more curves, creating a labyrinth in my mind. They become distorted within my head. Stairways appear inexplicably in places they would never actually exist, rooms become caverns and caverns become galaxies. In many ways my dreams have created their own architecture, a playground and a prison. I like to imagine that if you unstrung me, pulled the line from my fingertips to the edge of my consciousness, the resulting shape would be a curve.”

I think about this sometimes when I try to imagine who I am going to become, where my work will take me. As a trained architect and multidisciplinary artist, I also ponder how these things inside my head can become real, not just for myself but for those around me. Architects tell stories in a rather similar way to filmmakers. First and foremost what matters is empathy; all else falls away. In my search to understand my identity as a designer and how my work can bridge the gap between architecture and film, I have arrived here. I am so honored to have been selected for UnionDoc’s Research and Development Lab. I feel so young, naive, so to be a peer among so many like-minded and incredibly talented makers is truly humbling. To make this dream a reality, I am looking for support from my community, in hopes that one day I can give it back. Please consider donating to this crowdfunding campaign. I couldn’t thank you all more for your time, energy, and support of my work.

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Derek Russell is an architect, author, activist, and multi-disciplinary artist who focuses on community oriented design as a way to incite meaningful change. Spending most of his life amidst the Colorado Rockies and rolling plains, nature has always been a crucial part of his life: society interweaves with landscape. He has devoted his work to the meaningful intersection between art, community, and governance, having worked for various environmental advocacy groups including Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab, Creature Conserve, and the Sunrise Movement. At that place where forests become plains and where plains become mountains, far beyond the reaches of city sprawl, you will find him.

Instagram: @derek_s_russell

About the Summer Documentary Labs:

The UnionDocs Summer Documentary Lab are a program for a select group of media artists from the US and abroad. Based in one of NYC’s most exciting neighborhoods, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the Summer Labs offer a platform for participants to spend the Summer making strides and clarify the creative direction of their projects to attract the potential team members, funders and producers they need to find their way to the finish. With a specialized hybrid in-person / remote format, an intensive schedule of screenings, open seminar discussions, weekly industry “field trips,” and inspiring artist visits from some of the most dynamic voices across the field of documentary, the SUMMER DOCUMENTARY LABS are tightly structured environments that bring participants into a select group of emerging filmmakers to get challenged and encouraged to think through every aspect of their works-in-progress.

Drawing inspiration from across disciplines, this intensive program should not be mistaken for an industrial, journalistic, or traditional documentary training. Scholar Scott MacDonald highlighted in The New York Times that, “UnionDocs has a healthy sense that the older definitions of what constitutes ‘experimental’ cinema and what constitutes ‘documentary’ are up for grabs.” Much emphasis is placed on workshopping lab participants’ writing about their projects as a way to both clarify the creative direction and attract potential team members, funders and producers. Participants receive focused, honest and helpful feedback on their project proposals from prominent documentary artists and industry experts.

The Research & Development Lab is a space for projects to grow while in their earliest stages. When a project is still largely a concept or idea, the lab helps filmmakers solidify the ideas with efforts, assignments, and conversations around best practices for grounding the project in its early stages of writing. This moment of focus can help set up projects for success from these nascent beginnings all the way through from funding to production to distribution.



A handprinted postcard of project concept art, with a personal note

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1 backers


A handprinted postcard of project concept art, with personal note and a Small original artwork 3”x5”

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6 backers


A handprinted postcard of project concept art, with personal note and a Large original artwork 18”x24”

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2 backers
Name Donate Amount Date
Nancy Pearce $250.00 July 30, 2021
Nancy Pearce $100.00 July 30, 2021
Laura Troutman $100.00 July 30, 2021
Daniel Sepe $10.00 July 29, 2021
Pamela Russell $1,200.00 July 28, 2021
Juli Charter $30.00 July 26, 2021
Theresa Boyles $100.00 July 25, 2021
Kim Haddox $50.00 July 21, 2021
Dawn Klock $100.00 July 16, 2021
Lisa Coudrain $20.00 July 14, 2021
Alan & Linda Russell $100.00 July 13, 2021
Pat Brown $100.00 July 13, 2021