An Immersive Documentary filmmaking Experience

Taught by a team of award-winning documentary filmmakers, this unique hands-on workshop will teach you the practical skills you need to tell great nonfiction stories.  If you’ve always wanted to make a documentary and didn’t know where to start, or if you’ve made a documentary and want to take your craft to the next level, this class is for you.

This interactive class focuses on three core skills for making great documentaries: how to film compelling interviews, how to capture dynamic real-life scenes, and how to shoot effective b-roll footage while making the most of your budget. You’ll master these skills through daily exercises, teaming up with your classmates to interview one another and shooting vérité scenes in Brooklyn’s lively Gowanus neighborhood which your teachers will review every day.

Other classes demonstrate everything on high-end gear you may never see again, but we emphasize shooting techniques that will get you great shots with even the most basic camera. And most importantly, we show you how to get the footage you’ll actually need in the edit room.

We'll also cover other key topics, like recognizing which story ideas are worth pursuing (and which are likely to lead to a dead end), licensing archival footage and music, and finding an outlet for your work.

Documentary Filmmaking Intensive isn’t just a camera workshop. Our goal is to teach you to be a top-notch storyteller.

My questions were used as jumping off points for discussions about technique that I now constantly think about when I am out shooting.
— Mel Bavaria/Videographer and Multimedia Journalist
After the first two hours I’d learned more than what I’ve learned on my own in the last two years.
— Zachary Branigan/Executive Director, Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy

Teaching Roster

Editor and co-writer, Inside Job, 2011 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary; editor, writer, and senior producer of Showtime’s Emmy-award-winning documentary series "Years of Living Dangerously"; editor and co-producer of The Recruiter (HBO), which won a Columbia duPont award for excellence in broadcast journalism in 2010.

Post-production supervisor on Inside Job (Academy Award for Best Documentary 2011) and producer on Hot Coffee (Sundance 2011, HBO). His editing credits include Welcome to the Dollhouse (Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival), Happiness (International Critic’s Award, Cannes Film Festival) and Storytelling (Cannes Film Festival), all for director Todd Solondz.

What You Will Learn

  • Documentary story structure: identifying a viable story with interesting subjects and characters; getting the story on camera in the most effective way; feedback on and help shaping your specific story ideas

  • Capturing great sound: the importance of good audio; how to use mics and set-ups to achieve excellent sound

  • Interview techniques and strategies: preparing for and shooting a formal interview; ways to ask questions that elicit the most compelling answers from your subject; making your subjects feel comfortable; placing subjects in the most ideal environment for sound

  • Shooting vérité footage (live action footage of real-life events): how to use and move the camera while you're shooting in order to make your scene as interesting as possible AND provide the best material for your editor; becoming comfortable capturing your subjects on film without being imposing

  • Sourcing external materials: Using archival footage; fair use material; licensing and finding music

  • Shooting b-roll (supplemental footage which will help bring your film to life) : lighting and composition of b-roll footage; seeking out and shooting b-roll that will be most useful to your editor

  • Documentary editing overview: Learn fundamental editing techniques for documentaries through real-time live editing

  • Budget and legal topics: Overview of fundraising and grant-making; making the most of your budget; getting signed releases

  • How to get your film seen: Overview of film festivals and other venues, buyers and platforms for documentaries - as well as creative ideas for getting your film into the world. Class may include a special guest on this topic

Who Should Attend?

This class is perfect for everyone from beginners and first-time filmmakers looking to get started, to experienced producers, directors, and video journalists who want to take their skills to the next level by picking up tips from award-winning documentarians.

Prerequisites & Preparation

All equipment and materials are provided. No experience is necessary.

Upcoming Classes

March 23 - 24 & 30 - 31 (weekend format)
July 15 - 19


Monday - Friday

Saturday & Sunday
(over two weekends)

Course Fee