Perry Gruber ~ Documentary Weekend

Perry Gruber

Perry Gruber

As you know, I had a wonderful time at Portland’s first-ever Documentary Weekend. I had such a wonderful time that I wrote a post about my experience the day after it was over. I’m super-excited that Perry Gruber, co-founder of Documentary Weekend with Mark Grimes, agreed to meet with me and discuss the project from a founder’s perspective.

I asked Perry Gruber to tell me about Documentary Weekend: “It’s a gorilla-style filmmaking event for anyone, not just for people interested in film. Some people had no experience whatsoever; some had lots of experience from traditional backgrounds. Over the course of a day-and-a-half, individuals form into teams, they’re assigned a topic and then they pre-produce, shoot, edit, produce and premiere their very own documentary in 30 hours. The fast-paced nature keeps it really energetic and exciting.”

According to Perry, “The vision behind Documentary Weekend is that we’re looking to do something that’s new, that’s interesting and that’s never been done before. This is one idea that we came up with among a large number of other ideas that we’re implementing.”

So, how did documentary weekend match up with their original vision? “Documentary Weekend met every one of our original ideas. When we first started talking about it, we were concerned that the idea would not live up to what we eventually want to see happen, which is to expand around the world. We want people who are not affiliated with us to be able to launch their own Documentary Weekends, without worrying about getting a license, and generate content at their local community level, with support from Mark and I and this network of people interested in seeing creativity come to the big screen.”

I asked Perry Gruber what stood out for him as the best moment from that weekend: “The opportunity to see people showing their documentaries at the premiere on Saturday night and the pride that people had when they watched their documentaries show up on the big screen. Teams spent a lot of hard hours trying to get their documentaries put together. Showing their results at the end of the event was really the high point. Everyone worked so hard to make it happen, they had very little time and ran into all kinds of obstacles. In the end, it all worked out and we were really proud to see that happen.”

Mark Grimes

Mark Grimes

I also asked Perry what was the greatest learning from that weekend. Perry laughed when he told me, “Never underestimate Murphy’s Law. Every single team ran into problems, some with technology matching during editing and some people with using new technology they had never tried before. As a result, our agenda slipped. Next time, we’re going to leave a lot of time for Murphy’s Law to happen, so we can better hit our milestones over the two days.”

How does Documentary Weekend make money? Perry Gruber told me, “There are lots of avenues to the revenue question. The first thing we’re looking at is getting sponsorships, corporate sponsors who are interested in the mission of what we’re doing: introducing people to this genre and exposing creative outlets through documentary creation. When all that content is created, we’ll be able to seek out advertisers for the actual documentaries or between the documentaries. Of course, other opportunities may show up that we can’t even think of right now.”

Perry Gruber and Mark Grimes met at a speech that Perry gave while working at Intel about corporate social responsibility. “Mark was in the audience and what I had to say resonated with him. After my speech, he came up and said we have to go to lunch, and that was seven years ago. Ever since that lunch, we’ve been meeting every Thursday. Now, because I work out of Nedspace, we’re pretty much together all the time during the work day, scheming great ideas like Documentary Weekend.”

For those who aren’t familiar with Nedspace, which was founded by Mark Grimes, it’s one of the premiere co-working spaces in Portland, OR. It may be the oldest too. Nedspace offers entrepreneurs and remote employees a desk or office for a relatively small amount of money, where they can work as part of a community, rather than out of a coffee shop.

The first four documentaries are available on the Documentary Weekend YouTube channel and they’re embedded in my original blog post. Perry and Mark are in the process of growing the audience for those documentaries. Eventually, events could be happening in multiple cities every single weekend, so the amount a vast amount of content will explode on their YouTube channel. Then, Perry Gruber explains, “At that point, very interesting opportunities present themselves for entertaining people and generating revenue.”

Will there be Documentary Weekends outside Portland? Perry Gruber said that he and Mark are focusing on the West Coast. A couple more are in the works, but Perry couldn’t reveal where those will be held. The next Documentary Weekend in Portland is coming up quickly, on November 14-15 at Nedspace. For more information, go out to

Here’s my post about Documentary Weekend from an attendee’s perspective:

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Perry Gruber laughingPerry Gruber, Documentary Weekend

Cynthia Kahn, Founder of Amused Now