Past Workshop Descriptions

Advanced Documentary Storytelling Studio

This workshop is designed for filmmakers who have an idea for a documentary (short or feature-length) they would like to explore and develop over the course of four (4) online sessions. Participants should arrive with an idea (possibly two if they are undecided which one has more potential), be prepared to invest time outside of the workshop and actively engage in group discussions over the course of the four (4) weeks. The goal by the end of the workshop is for participants to have a script outline as well as materials for a pitch deck (including but not limited to a three-sentence synopsis, a long synopsis, a director’s statement and a visual and sound treatment). As well, a tentative calendar of development and/or production activities shall be elaborated by students to encourage continuation with their projects after the workshop has concluded. 

Expanding upon content introduced in “Documentary Storytelling” we will further explore and apply to each project concepts such as theme, premise (understood as the fundamental truth about the theme), 3-act-structure as well as the dramatic structure of acts and scenes, conflict, dramatic tension, character development, rhythm, tone, narrative visual and sound resources to tell the story. Participants will watch documentary shorts or fragments of feature docs to analyze how these concepts apply to the film in question and whether we feel they are “successful” or not and if not, why? What could work better?

Students shall be expected to work on their projects and bring advances to each session for in-class discussion in such a way that progress is made in each session for every project. As well as developing their own project ideas, students will be working on how to present their ideas concisely, clearly and with passion and emotion to have a maximum impact on the listener. We will also work on how to offer constructive, structured criticism based on the concepts we’re working with (and not simply based on our own subjective points of view) and finally active listening will be encouraged in order to appreciate how ideas are perceived when we present them (oftentimes in contrast to what we intended).  

In this workshop, explore and delve into the following questions for your projects: Does the idea have dramatic potential? Are the theme and premise clear? Does it resonate with the audience in the way the idea is presented? Does it elicit an emotional response? Are the characters multi-dimensional and captivating? How can interviews be planned in such a way that they result in emotionally engaging material? Is it feasible? (among others). The last session will consist of a structured, timed pitch session wherein each participant will present their project to the group followed by a Q&A, in-class discussion and possible next steps for each project to come to life.

Location: Online via Zoom
Category: Filmmaking Intensive
Maximum Capacity: 10
12 hours of instruction in 4 parts$225 /member$250 /nonmember

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