Case Study: Swim Team, A Doc from Soup to Nuts

No documentary journey is the same, but every documentary faces similar challenges from concept to community engagement. Producer/Director Lara Stolman had her own ups and downs as she made her way through the process of making her film Swim Team. The film chronicles the rise of a competitive swim team made up of teenagers on the autism spectrum.

For this case study, Stolman will highlight for us the key moments she experienced in proposal writing, budgeting, fund raising, selection of production team, post-production, film festival launch, broadcast rights and community outreach. She got a lot of help from attending NYWIFT events and is happy to share what she learned in this conversation with Marcia Rock, Chair of NYWIFT’s Documentary Committee and Director of News and Documentary, NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.


Photo Credit: Andy Foster

Lara Stolman is an award-winning producer and director of television and film. Her work has appeared on NBC, MSNBC, TLC, AMC, VH-1 and The New York Times‘ website. For Swim Team, her first feature documentary film, she was named an IFP Documentary Lab Fellow, awarded the New York Women in Film & Television Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness grant and was provided funding from the Aetna Foundation, Easterseals and the Karma Foundation, among others. Swim Team screened at over 50 international film festivals, won 14 awards, began its theatrical release at New York’s IFC Center and aired on PBS’ POV. It is currently streaming on Netflix. Stolman appears as a featured speaker on autism, disability advocacy, independent filmmaking and distribution. She recently traveled to Kazakhstan as a guest of the US Embassy and as part of American Film Showcase to give talks, workshops and screen Swim Team.


Marcia Rock (Moderator) has produced twelve documentaries since 1984 and received many awards including three local Emmys and several nominations. Her work covers international dilemmas, women’s issues as well as personal perspectives. She recently completed two films on veterans, Warriors Return  and Service: When Women Come Marching Home (NY Emmy). Her recent short, Soldiers Period, produced with Patty Stotter, grew out of their work with women veterans and was distributed via social media. Rock’s other films include Salt Harvesters of Ghana (2007) (Best Short, Newburyport Documentary Film) and Writers’ Rooms: The Making of a Mural (2008). Her documentary Daughters of the Troubles: Belfast Stories (1997) won many awards including the AWRT Grand Documentary Award. Rock has produced several pieces on New York City and writers including McSorley’s New York (1987 Emmy), Village Writers: the Bohemian Legacy (1990), and Reynolds Price: a Writer’s Inheritance (1989). Rock’s films have also gone in more personal directions.  Dancing with My Father (2003), ponders how adult love is shaped by what a child learns at home and Surrender Tango (2006) compares the rules and roles of tango with contemporary relationships. Rock is a professor and Director of News and Documentary at the NYU Arthur Carter Journalism Institute. She is co-author with Marlene Sanders of Waiting for Prime Time: The Women of Television News. Her work has been featured on public and cable television. Her films are currently in distribution with Cinema Guild, Filmmakers Library, and Women Make Movies.

Produced by Marcia Rock

Hosted by the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute

Special Thanks to Marcia Rock, Director of News and Documentary
at the NYU Arthur Carter Journalism Institute and Chair of NYWIFT’s Documentary Committee

Photo Credit: Nicole Chan

February 25 @ 6:00pm
6:00 pm — 8:00 pm (2h)

NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10003


$15 for NYWIFT Members
$25 for Nonmembers
Register by prepayment online


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#nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.