A great documentary is a work of art; a combination of idea, skillful craft and intuition. It’s a director’s personal journey. Our 16-week directing workshop takes you through that journey, step by step, helping you apply skill to instinct as you develop your own idea into a short film.

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Idea Development

Our Approach

Great documentaries feel as though they happen spontaneously. The truth is that every frame is the result of careful planning and thought. Our aim is to expose you to all your storytelling options and then help you make informed decisions. However, our mission is not just to lead you blindly through the making of one short film, but to give you the tools to think as a director and make consistently successful choices as you move beyond the course.

concept development

Challenge #1: Portrait

Have you ever seen a photograph revealed in a dark room? Out of a fuzzy collection of shades, a sharp image slowly emerges.This is how documentary portrait works. There are no plots or arguments to rely on. Rather, a collection of images are assembled. Alone these have no significance, but together begin to reveal a deep theme or idea for the audience to discover.  In this challenge, you'll be forced to begin thinking cinematically as you identify and rely exclusively on the meaning of each image that you capture.

Challenge #2: Topic-Driven (Essay)

The essay is the most direct and efficient approach to conveying large amounts of information. In this approach, a thesis is posed and then supported with several arguments, eventually leading the audience to a conclusion. Essay documentaries work best when your goal is to inform or persuade your audience about a certain topic. In this challenge, you will learn the tricks to keeping an audience engaged through the power of arguments as opposed to characters or plot. 

Challenge #3: Story-Driven

Story-driven documentaries borrow the tools used by fiction storytellers to engage and entertain an audience. These stories typically unfold on camera through characters who embark on what is ideally a life-changing journey. As audiences identify and empathize with these characters, they grow with them and discover the lessons to be learned. In this challenge, you will learn to identify and gather, through interviews or observation, the dramatically relevant moments that you need in order to craft a story on screen.

Short Film

Directing is doing. That’s why the heart of this course is hands-on experience. From idea, conception, shooting and finally post, you will progress through the entire directing process - start to finish - as you workshop and complete your own short film. At every stage, you will have ample time to share your work and get informed feedback as you progress.

Weeks 1 – 8: Through a series of lectures and interactivity, you'll be introduced to the techniques required to successfully navigate the directing process. Simultaneously, you'll hone your skills through directorial challenges which will give you a foundation for tackling your final project.

Weeks 9 – 10: You will pitch and fne-tune ideas for your short film.

Weeks 11 – 15: You will continue deepening your understanding of directing theory. Outside of class, you will shoot and edit your short film which you'll workshop in class, sharing rough cuts, receiving feedback, and perfecting your fine cut.

Week 16: The course culminates with a final screening party.

Community

Our participants range from journalists and animators to advertisers, social innovators, photographers, teachers and bankers. The thing that unites us all is that inner storyteller who begs to be released. Our favorite thing about this course is the community of such storytellers which has naturally emerged. Participants become friends and friends become trusted champions of one another’s work. It’s a community that extends far beyond the four walls and 16 weeks of the workshop.

The Director’s Journey is an intense 16-week directing and storytelling course. Please note: this is not a technical course. Therefore, in order to get the most out of the directing exercises, participants are expected to possess some basic technical camera and editing skills upon entering the course: 

What You Need

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