Documentary Film Writing

Monday, June 19, 2017 - 6:00pm - 10:00pm
Monday, June 26, 2017 - 6:00pm - 10:00pm
Enrolment is limited to: 

Is the main idea of the film compelling/fresh? Will the audience relate to the protagonist? What is the main conflict? Will the audience care? Variations of these and other questions can be found in the coverage templates script readers are asked to follow as they evaluate independent documentary film proposals. Increasingly, filmmakers are expected to deliver docs that have the same crowd-pleasing traits dramas possess—with one key difference: where drama writers can dream up scenarios, documentarians must stick to facts. How can a doc filmmaker meet these expectations when he/she wants to tell a story that may be unfolding? That is the subject of this two-night workshop. Night One deals with development. How can you pitch your idea? How do you write a clear, concise and convincing one-pager? What is a sizzle reel? Night Two is devoted to production. How do you craft a shooting script/treatment? How do you know if your film needs narration and how do you determine what kind? What is the ancillary written material programmers, broadcasters and media representatives like to see with a film? If you have a great idea but have been unable to express it, if you've been asked for an outline and are stuck on paragraph one or if you've been in the cutting room with your footage for too long, this class can help you with the various obstacles and take the next step.


Participants must bring a short description of their documentary concept to the first day of class. This course is recommended as a companion to the Producing Documentary Film and Directing Documentary Film workshops.



Steve Lucas has been writing, producing, show-running and storyediting popular films and TV shows for 35 years. His documentary film writing and story editing credits include the Genie Award-winning The Champagne Safari and Last Call at The Gladstone Hotel, and the Academy Award-nominated After the Axe, which he also co-produced. He recently co-wrote Once An Immigrant, a CBC documentary telecast as part of Firsthand, the network’s new point-of-view documentary series. Steve’s award-winning drama writing credits include Global’s Blue Murder, which he co-created and show ran, CBC’s Major Crime and the independent feature film Diplomatic Immunity, both of which he wrote and co-produced. A U of T graduate, he helped develop and now coordinates the Advanced Television and Film Script to Screen Program at Centennial College. He is currently at work on a number of new film and TV projects.