Past Workshop Descriptions

Documentary Filmmaking & Storytelling with Daniel Carsenty Part 1

A digital workshop presented by the Goethe-Institut Toronto and LIFT. Co-presented with Toronto Arab Film and Toronto Palestine Film Festival.  Please be reminded that you do not need to participate in Part 2 to attend Part 1. Part 2 is designed as a hands-on exploration of what Carsenty talks about in his artist talk.

Daniel Carsenty is a Berlin filmmaker currently working at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, teaching at the Raindance Institute London
 and the International Academy for Film and Media in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The documentary The Devil’s Driver, co-directed by Daniel Carsenty & Mohammed Abugeth, is celebrating its world premiere at TIFF 2021. The Goethe-Institut Toronto showed the Canadian premiere of Carsenty’s debut, the refugee drama After Spring Comes Fall, in 2016 at GOETHE FILMS @ TIFF Lightbox.

The central element of this workshop is the idea that a film—documentary or fiction—is at its core a character-driven story. The camera captures the relationships between people and visualizes the unspoken elements at play. Most films pivot around 'dramatic' scenes. Scenes in which characters express their wants and needs either vocally or through the subtext of body language. They run up against an obstacle and we as an audience 'discover' their true character in the way they deal with the obstacle on screen.

This two-part workshop, aimed at emerging and intermediate filmmakers, will create awareness for the basic elements of storytelling at play and show examples in which these elements have been successfully captured on screen.

Carsenty will present a 90-minute artist talk open to those registered for the two-part workshop as well as general audiences. He will be joined from Berlin by his collaborator filmmaker Mohammed Abugeth. The documentary “The Devil’s Drivers”, co-directed by Daniel Carsenty and Mohammed Abugeth, is celebrating its world premiere at TIFF 2021. The Goethe-Institut Toronto showed the Canadian premiere of Carsenty’s debut, the refugee drama “After Spring Comes Fall,” in 2016 at GOETHE FILMS@TIFF Lightbox.

After this artist talk, participants who are registered in Part 2 of the workshop will go out and independently film a dramatic scene with their own camera to be presented on the second day. The scene that participants shoot should have the power to stand alone as a short film or could be the centre of a longer documentary. Students can shoot on a smartphone or any other medium of recording video, but be aware of sound-recording implications. For more information on Part 2, please see the separate registration portal on our website.

Things to keep in mind when capturing your own scene...

An empty bus station can tell a story as intricately as the packed bakery next door. It only requires a different way of observation.

In a scene with many people or with a clear protagonist, it is often enough if the camera follows the story. But in a place where little happens, it is very important to understand where to place the camera and how to connect the different visual elements.

Subjective vs. objective camera. Does the protagonist lead the camera or the director? How do I make this decision as a film-maker and which implications will it have on the story-telling?

This workshop will be presented via ZOOM. Please ensure that you have downloaded it prior to the workshop. A meeting link will be sent to participants both 24 hours prior to the workshop as well as a reminder 1 hour in advance. 

If you have any questions about this Artist Talk and Workshop, feel free to contact LIFT Development Coordinator Cayley James at

Past Instructor: Daniel Carsenty
Category: Creative Practises
Maximum Capacity: 50
2 hours of instruction $0 or PWYC donation

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