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Documentary Foundation Certificate

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Raindance Film Festival

10a Craven Street

London

WC2N 5PE

United Kingdom

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About the Documentary Foundation Certificate

The documentary filmmaker is the driving force behind a film or TV programme that documents real-life events – past or present. A documentary director shapes everything about the film’s content and presentation, including the interviews, script (if applicable), filming and music.

This five-week film documentary filmmaking course provides a detailed overview of the skills, knowledge and professional requirements for those wishing to make documentaries – film and television. The information covered in the Documentary Foundation Certificate includes how to develop distinctive ideas that work as effective and engaging documentaries, deciding the most appropriate way of filming it and finding the right people to appear, picking the right music and sound, and then shaping the finished documentary into a story that works dramatically and emotionally.

What will it cover?

Week 1: How Good is Your Idea?

You think you’ve got a great idea for a documentary but will it really make a film? It’s not enough to just find a subject that interests you. A documentary is much more than that – especially one that people will want to pay money to see. This first class explores how you can find out whether your idea will really make a film and how you can ensure that it does.

  • Deciding what sort of documentary you are making
  • Getting your documentary to ask a question
  • Deciding on an appropriate style e.g. comedy treatment of a serious subject
  • Establishing drama in your documentary
  • Putting your idea to the test

Week 2: Interview Style and Technique

Having built the all-important foundations of your film in the first class, it’s time to search for the people to inhabit your documentary. Is it better to use regular people or professionals? How do you know who will be right to interview? And how do you convince people who’ve never been in front of the camera to bare their soul in front of a potentially intrusive camera? What are the five big mistakes of interviewing?

  • Choosing the right participants
  • Deciding if you need a narrator
  • Choosing where to put the camera and frame size
  • The behaviour of the crew before, during and after an interview
  • Coverage during the interview
  • Practical interview exercises

Week 3: Camera, Lights and Style

The lighting and camera style will affect the story you are telling. And to decide that style you must first know the story you are telling. Once decided you have to be able to realise that vision on an appropriate budget

  • Choosing an appropriate style for your story and budget
  • Deciding to go hand-held and without lights
  • Shooting a documentary on your mobile phone
  • Filming successful drama reconstruction
  • Comparisons of different styles and techniques
  • Basic lighting exercises

Week 4: Editing & Sound

Story telling is an art. I often see well-shot documentaries with interesting characters that are dramatically a mess with no real sense of vibrant story-telling. Once in the cutting room, it may be too late to salvage a badly thought-through film. But then again, with a little additional filming, it could be the making of a film.

  • How to use a dramatic arc
  • Make them laugh, make them cry, but make them wait
  • What to cut-away to
  • What to do if your film is not coming together in the edit
  • The power of serendipity
  • Using sound design instead of music
  • Choosing and briefing a composer
  • Dramatic analysis of a great documentary

Week 5: Sell Your Documentary

So you think your film is ready to send out into the big wide world of documentary exhibition? But is it really? What have your test screenings told you? Is it time to invite a broadcaster into view a rough-cut? Should it be entered to film festivals before you try to sell it to broadcasters?

  • What if broadcasters aren’t interested?
  • Making your film the best it can be
  • Learning from recent documentary success stories
  • When is it better not to be commissioned?
  • Getting music and interviewee clearances
  • Utilising film festivals to promote your film and get your next film commissioned
  • Using the internet to showcase your film
  • Marketing your film

What will you achieve?

On completion of the Documentary Foundation Certificate, students will have acquired the skills, knowledge and confidence to then undertake documentary filmmaking projects – short, feature of TV series.

How will you be taught?

A mix of lecture-style, discussion and Q&A. There will be time for students to ask the tutor questions, and also be some further watching and additional activities suggested.

Who should attend?

The Documentary Foundation Certificate is suitable for those new to the world of documentary filmmaking, as well as for those seeking to refresh or develop their existing knowledge of making documentaries.

About the tutor

Col Spector is an award-winning director who began his career producing and directing documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4. These include Just Enough Distance, The Lost Supper, The Real Alan Clark, and Trouble At The House.

He then went on to write and direct the short comedy drama New Year’s Eve (starring Stephen Mangan & Keira Knightley) before making his feature debut with the low-budget unromantic comedy Someone Else(starring Stephen Mangan & Susan Lynch) which was distributed by Soda Pictures in the UK and the IFC/Sundance Channel in the US. His second feature, the relationship comedy Honeymooner (starring Gerard Kearns) was also distributed in the UK by Soda Pictures and recently broadcast on BBC1. He is currently in pre-production on a new dramedy feature.

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Date and Time

Location

Raindance Film Festival

10a Craven Street

London

WC2N 5PE

United Kingdom

View Map

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 7 days before event

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