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Documentary Courses at Open City Docs School

Filmmaking, Film Theory and Radio Courses

Since February 2014, Open City Docs School has been running courses covering documentary filmmaking from all angles; from film theory lectures, practical camera training, film editing and workshops with award-winning documentarians. 

Below you will find courses that we are currently taking booking for the courses listed below. Previous courses are also listed below and we anticipate that many of these will be running again.

If you would like to register interest or book a place on our current courses please email

*Fees are non-refundable but credit can be transferred to another course.

Easter Film School

Core Course: Monday 4th April - Friday 22nd April

Course tutor: Juliet BrownGuest Tutors: tbc

The course is led by filmmaker Juliet Brown (Ecocide: Voices From Paradise) and focuses on self-shooting skills, with a focus on the fundamentals of observational filming.

Students will produce shoot, record sound, edit and direct their own documentary film, learning to respond to an undirected actuality and structure their footage into a compelling film. You will acquire the technical skills needed to complete a video project using the cameras, workstations and facilities in Open City Docs School's new and expanded visual laboratory. 

The core teaching of this course runs over three weeks during the Easter Holidays and can be taken for credit as art of a UCL Masters degree (for a discounted fee). The course can be taken as module ANTHGS25, please contact for more details.

A refundable deposit (tbc) is required to sign out cameras at the start of the course.

Important course dates:

Friday 18th March, 1pm - 6pm: Course Induction
Monday 4th April - Friday 22nd April, Weekdays 9am - 5pm: Core Teaching
Friday 6th May: Rough Cut Screenings (provisional date)
Friday 20th May: Fine Cut Screenings (provisional date)
Friday 27th May: Film Submission Deadline

Course Costs: £1600


Sound for Self-Shooters

Course Tutor: Tim Bamber (

Course dates: Sat 5th and Sat 12th March 2016

The course aims to give self-shooting filmmakers the confidence to make quick decisions on location to record decent quality sound, when hiring a sound recordist just doesn't factor into the budget. Topics will include the principles of sound recording; different microphone types and when to use them; and choosing suitable locations. You will learn how to produce and organise a good basic sound mix in post-production, to a standard appropriate for small-scale corporate projects, or prior to sending to a sound designer.

Topics will include: track-laying mono and stereo source files; setting volumes and basic compression; using wildtracks to cover dialogue edits; adding voiceovers and 'ducking' music. 

These will be taught using Adobe Premiere and Adobe Audition

The course takes place over two consecutive weekends.

Course fees: £225

To secure a place on the course you will need to make payment of the fee. If you have any questions please contact:

Maximum 6 students


Introduction to Audio Recording and Podcasting

Saturday 27th February, 9.30am - 5pm

Do you want to make podcasts?

Podcasts are a great way to engage the public and hook audiences in. More personal and intimate than video, they are also simple to produce. In this one-day workshop, we’ll give you the tools you need to start making your own podcasts.


Introduction to audio. A few well-chosen words
Content and casting. So what’s it all about?
Interviewing and the art of conversation
Editorial control. Who is steering the ship? Some journalism basics.
Music, actuality, and the special bits
Recording basics. Editing your clips. 

Course Tutors

Rosie Bartlett is a journalist and communications consultant with over 18 years of international media training and production experience for the BBC and global NGOs.

At the BBC she produced international news programmes for the BBC World Service and digital stories for BBC  Radio and Music online for 18 years.

Rosie is co-chair of the Sound Women training group which works to get more out of women in radio both on air and in leadership. She produces events and tailored training and mentoring for women across the radio sector. Rosie has recently worked with BBC’s Global Women in News to launch their training strategy and delivering confidence skills training.

Rosie is a trained mediator and BBC career coach. 

Kate Hoyland re-launched and ran the successful BBC Production Trainee Scheme, which receives upwards of three thousand applications yearly. She has 18 years experience as a journalist in the BBC World Service, where she specialised in international news before moving on to manage Radio and Production training, delivering leadership and media training to journalists from 22 international bureaux. She works on social media accounts for the BBC.

Kate and Rosie are currently producing a podcast series for UCL on interdisciplinary working.

Course cost: £150




This eight week evening course, lead by Anthropologist Barbara Knorpp, provides opportunities to watch classic and experimental ethnographic and documentary films in order to critically engage with the politics of image making.

Starting from silent cinema of Robert Flaherty and use of montage of Russian filmmakers in the 1920s to visual video diaries in New York by Jonas Mekas, French cinéma vérité and indigenous filmmaking in Brazil, the course will give a historic overview on how the genre of ethnographic film has changed from seemingly scientific accounts to staged authenticity, and from experimental modes to collage, made out of found footage.

Below is a week-by-week timetable of the topics that be covered on the course. Full details of the course can be found here

Tuesday 13th January - Silent cinema and early ethnographic film

Tuesday 20th January - Peoples without Land: Pastoral Nomads in East Africa

Tuesday 27th January - Jean Rouch and Cinéma Vérité

Tuesday 3rd February - Senegalese filmmaker and anthropologist Safi Faye

Tuesday 10th February - USA - Observational Mode and Visual Diaries

Tuesday 17th February - ‘The Exiles’ and Native American on film

Tuesday 24th February - Experimental Cinema and the Essay Film

Tuesday 3rd March - Participatory Video Making

Maximum 25 Students

Price: £120/ £110 Student/ £100 UCL Student

To secure a place on the course you will need to make payment of the fee you can do this by contacting:


The course is led by award winning directors Havana Marking (Afghan Star) and Sandhya Suri (I for India). 

The course focuses on single-person multi-tasking and observational style of filmmaking in which students shoot, record sound, edit and direct their own film, responding to an undirected actuality and learn how to structure shot footage. Both courses also allow space for students who wish to work towards a more pre-scripted and televisual style of filmmaking.

· This being a practical course, the reading load focuses on technical handouts and equipment manuals. The usual reading requirement is exchanged for the compulsory hours each student spends on practical work and editing their own project, estimated at a minimum 100 hours and a maximum of 150 hours for a 15-minute film.

· The tutor and assistant are available to students outside term-time during the vacation break to assist and comment on the final editing stage of student's video projects.

· The course is assessed 80% on the student's final 15-minute video project, devised, shot and edited during the course, and 20% on a Project Diary.

· Weeks 1-3 of the course focus on hands-on exercises and appraisal sessions aimed at preparing the student in manual control of camera image, synchronous sound and techniques of sequence building and shooting to edit.

· Weeks 4-5 concentrate on synopsis, treatment, location, characterisation, narrative structure, scripting, storyboarding, logistics, legal and ethical responsibilities, narrative structure, aesthetics, character and location research.

· Weeks 6-8 are concerned with developing editing skills using the student's own digitised footage, through assembly, to rough cutting and on to fine cutting and picture lock.

· The final 9th week deals with outputting, DVD authoring and finding an audience.

· During 5 weeks of the subsequent vacation and the last four weeks of post-production training (weeks 6-9) student should be working on the rushes/footage that they have successfully filmed. The possibility also exists for the student to shoot and complete the post-production editing during the Christmas break and the first weeks of the spring term having already gained proficiency to work alone.

You will acquire the technical skills needed to complete a 15-minute video project (or a 5 minute video in the case of the 3 week course) to broadcast standards using the cameras, workstations and facilities in the department's visual laboratory. Students will acquire practical, analytical and intellectual skills in using moving image and sound recording equipment and discover how new technologies create new methodologies. During the course students will examine and deploy a range of the technical, stylistic, aesthetic, and representational dynamics involved in video construction. By doing so, participants will become more informed as well as practically experienced commentators on the 'truths', 'fictions', styles, genres, ethics and modes of filmmaking. You will recognise the potential of film to document research, and have explored issues of representation and audience reception. Structure of the Course: Students undertaking the 10 week film production course in either term 1 or term 2, will have full access to the UCL Anthropology Audio Visual Lab with 15 Adobe Premier Pro enabled edit machines as well as camera kits (shared one between two students) for the duration of the course. 

Please note participants are also required to bring two external hard-drives on the course. Cameras are shared with one other person. Participants using their own cameras may be entitled to a discount (for further information please Students using UCL Anthropology cameras are responsible for any loss, damage or repair costs.  Any failure to reimburse the department will result in a debt to UCL with the standard consequences. 

ANTHGS25 can be taken in term two. A reduced lab fee is required for those taking the course for credit. This course is available to those not taking it as part of a Masters at UCL for £1500.

Introduction to documentary filmmaking and camera skills

This is a one-week workshop with Ben Pollard and award-winning filmmaker Havana Marking (Afghan Star). It is designed for participants with non-professional or no previous filming experience. 

Havana Marking will host a master-classes and provide advice on getting started in documentary film with sessions covering idea development, pitching, writing, interviewing and storytelling. 

Professional filmmaker and camera specialist Ben Pollard will teach you the basic camera skills required for shooting documentary film. A professional editor will take some of the footage and construct a short film for the class that will be shown at the end of the week.Documentary Storytelling:

Over five evenings, learn the art of telling stories through documentary film. Sessions will cover topics such as point-of-view, narration and the interview, and will include discussions of how theoretical concepts relate to formal considerations in documentary filmmaking. This course is aimed at documentary practitioners, students, and people who are simply passionate about non-fiction films.

Summer Intensive Filmmaking course 

Make a short documentary in three weeks with tutor Sandhya Suri (director, 'I for India'). During the course participants will learn to use broadcast-quality cameras and editing software; they will also develop their research, pitching and interview skills. Further details can be found here:

Editing on Adobe Premiere Pro for Beginners with Ben Pollard 

A short practical course on how to use the industry standard Adobe Premiere Pro editing software. Students will learn to use many of the common features of the software by editing a mini practice project, and are encouraged to bring along some of their own footage to work on (this could be anything from iPhone footage to professionally shot camerawork). The weekend will be a mixture of short lectures followed by supervised editing time.

Documentary Sound

The course takes place on Wednesday evenings, 6.30pm until 9pm, from the 14th April 2016

It is readily acknowledged that sound design is an aspect of fiction filmmaking that any director or editor needs to understand. For the documentary filmmaker, however, sound is still often considered a technical necessity left to post-production. The ways sound can transform a documentary’s narrative - and how it ‘speaks’ to its audience - are too often ignored.

The course will provide you with an understanding of how soundtracks operate in documentaries, by exploring a variety of strategies for working with sound in the continually evolving forms of non-fiction screen production.  

In the 5 sessions, we will cover

  • What a soundtrack is and how it is made. What are the components that you work with when recording, editing and mixing a documentary soundtrack?
  • The technical development of documentary sound.
  • The relationships between pre-production, shooting and post-production in creating a soundtrack. How does the way you plan your shoot affect the soundtrack and, ultimately, how the audience perceives your ideas?
  • The workflow from recording to mixing.
  • The relationship between editing and sound design and between image, sound and music. How does editing the picture determine the soundtrack?
  • How to consider sound on a variety of budgets.
  • How sound can change the audience’s perception of images.
  • The variety of techniques for using sound in documentaries including location sound recording, mixing techniques, voice-over / narration, metaphorical sound, synchronous vs asynchronous sound, and the crossover between fiction and documentary sound styles.
  • Consideration of the audience or client.
  • The ethics of sound: What are we allowed to hear and what is kept silent?

All this will be covered using a variety of examples from past and present documentaries, different forms and genres, interviews with directors, films I have edited and sound designed and materials I’ve used in teaching sound post-production at film schools in the UK and Europe.

This course is as valuable for directors, producers and editors as it is for sound designers and composers.

Course tutor: Larry Sider is an editor and sound designer known for his work in documentary, fiction and animation, including Patrick Keiller’s London, Robinson in Space and Robinson in Ruins. Since 1998, he has been the director of the School of Sound, a forum exploring the creative use of sound in the arts and media. He is Course Leader for Goldsmiths’ MA in Sound Recording and Design and formerly was Head of Post-Production at the National Film and Television School where he devised the curriculum integrating the teaching of editing, sound and music. He is a visiting lecturer at film and art schools in Europe and the UK and is co-editor of The New Soundtrack journal.

Course costs: £150 / £140 for students / £130 for UCL students (Please note student places are limited)

Please note that this course is not a practical sound mixing/editing course


Current Tutors


Vikram Jayanti, Senior Tutor in documentary is filmmaker with a host of high profile documentary films to his credit, and countless awards. Two of his films, for which he has producer credits, have received Academy Awards for Best Feature Documentary; the 1997 blockbuster When We Were Kings and 2005's Born Into Brothels. As a director, his feature documentaries include: The Agony and The Ecstasy of Phil Spector (winner, Royal Television Society, Best Arts Documentary, 2009), James Ellroy’s Feast of Death (winner, RTS, 2001), Game Over: Kasparov & the Machine, The Darkness of Abraham Lincoln, and Snowblind. As producer, his feature docs include: The Man Who Bought Mustique, Innocents Abroad and In Her Own Time. While many of his films have theatrical release (with 5 premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, and 5 at the Sundance Film Festival), most are initially commissioned for television broadcast in the UK & US, including Sick Jokes, The Christmas Truce, Golden Globes: Hollywood’s Dirty Little Secret, Britney Spears Saved My Life, Rolf Harris Paints His Dream, and the first three series of The Hairy Bikers Cookbook. Having worked for 8 years in the 1980s at the Center for Visual Anthropology at the University of Southern California, Jayanti’s films are all informed by anthropological and ethnographic values, but he is best known for "his gonzo choice of subjects" and “high-profile documentaries with his signature combination of eccentricity and amazement."


Penny Woolcock is a writer and director working across documentary, fiction and opera. Her fiction feature films include 1 Day, a hip-hop musical that led to One Mile Away, a documentary that was instrumental in negotiating peace between two inner city gangs. She wrote and directed Mischief Night, The Principles of Lust and The Margate Exodus and directed a film version of John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer. Her television fiction includes Tina Goes Shopping, Tina Takes a Break and Macbeth on the Estate. She has a special interest in marginalized communities and her documentaries include eight months On the Streets with homeless people, The Wet House about a hostel for drinkers, The Five of Us and Shakespeare on the Estate. From the Sea to the Land Beyond is an archive film in collaboration with the BFI and British Sea Power. Her recent documentary Going to the Dogs explores contemporary dog fighting. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera with Adams’s Doctor Atomic, also staged at ENO and directed The Pearl Fishers at Eno in 2010 and 2014 which will travel to the Met in 2015.  She is currently working on The Only Place I can Breathe a major installation for the Roundhouse in August 2015 and has several films in development.

Awards include Prix Italia, the Royal Television Society award, the Banff Television award, Toronto Women in Film Award, Broadcast best Drama award, the Brussels Special Jury Prize, the Grierson Trustees Award 2010, the Liberty Human Rights Award for Arts 2011, the Sheffield DocFest Inspiration Award 2012, the Edinburgh Festival Award for best British Film (2012) and the Women in Film and Television Achievement of the Year Award 2013.


Lasse Johansson,
is a self-shooting documentary director and media trainer with a background in fine art and sociology. Apart from making his own independent films Lasse works as a freelance cameraman and editor making films and online content for a variety of charities, non-profit and educational organisations. He also works internationally as a media trainer on projects aiming to empower local voices and media organisations. Over the past 4 years Lasse’s work has explored issues around urban regeneration in Hackney, the part of London where he also lives. This work has produced a large-scale public art installation, a publication and a number of short films documenting the lives of local people. Lasse’s interest in film also include how the process of filmmaking in itself can be used as an educational tool to help marginalised groups unlock, discuss and express issues that impact on their lives. For this purpose Lasse is currently exploring different ways of using film when working with groups of young people not in full-time training or work.


A graduate in Pure Mathematics and Languages, Sandhya Suri received a scholarship to study documentary at The National Film and Television School. Her subsequent feature documentary, 'I for India' screened in World Competition at Sundance Film Festival and at over twenty international film festivals, winning several awards internationally. The film was also released theatrically in the UK. After 'I for India' Sandhya spent several years working in international development, heading up the Film Unit at Oxfam GB and travelling the world filming across a wide range of issues and realities from D.R Congo to Vietnam. She has a particular interest in participatory video and has worked as a media trainer with youth in India, Thailand, Indonesia and London. She has also worked on projects using media as a tool for conflict resolution in Nepal (Search for Common Ground) and Macedonia (Saferworld). She is currently developing both fiction and documentary projects.

James Price has degrees in Fine Art (BA (Hons) Newcastle, 1999) and Documentary Direction (MA, National Film & TV School, 2006) and is undertaking a practice-based PhD into social responses to climate change and the implications of the Anthropocene for observational filmmaking at UAL supervised by William Raban.

Price's films have been shown on the BBC, Channel 4, and More4, in art exhibitions and at film festivals world-wide. Recent projects include Chandigarh Corrections Omissions (Linköping University) an investigation of aesthetics and discipline in Le Corbusier's planned city; Diamond Street, Estuary: Working Lives, and Study for the Estuary (ACE, 2011-present); ongoing collaborations with writer Rachel Lichtenstein exploring place and identity in London and the Thames Estuary; The Body Adorned (Horniman Museum, 2012-3) a multi-screen installation anthropology of London dress, and What is Freedom? (Channel 4, 2009) a semi-serious attempt to find the freest person in the USA. Other projects include A Piece of the Moon (Channel 4, 2008) an exploration of people who have ‘bought’ land on the Moon, and the businessman who made millions selling it to them. The People In Order series (Channel 4, 2006) has gone on to be shown at festivals in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Australia, and the USA, won awards at some of these, and was selected by Channel 4 as one of their highlights of 2006, the first series of 3 Minute Wonders to achieve this accolade. The first program in the series, Age, went to the top of the Viral Video Chart in January 2008 and has had over a million views on YouTube and other video websites.

James has also exhibited installations and photography in the UK and beyond. His 2006 installation and film, Conversation, an exploration of the hidden judgements we make of each other, has shown in the UK, Canada, the USA, and Iran. This work is being distributed as an educational aid in the UK, Australia and North America.

He also produces arts biography films for the Tate, the National Trust, the Southbank Centre, the Photographers’ Gallery, and Channel 4, and collaborates extensively with London AV artists, the Light Surgeons, with whom he developed his video practice from 1999 until embarking on his Masters at the NFTS. 


Bonnie Rae Brickman is a film and television editor with over twenty-five years’ experience working in both New York and London, and has accumulated a diverse and extensive list of credits including Julie Andrews’ Opening Night on Broadway, American Playhouse, and Shining Time Station.

During her ten years at WNET/Thirteen, PBS’s flagship television station in NYC, she was honoured with four New York Area Emmy Award Certificates and profiled in Videography, a US national trade publication, as a leading videotape editor from across the United States. 

Her work has screened on US, UK and Australian television and at film festivals worldwide including Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, San Francisco Frameline, LA Outfest, Athens International Film+Video Festival, BFI Flare and Fringe! London.  She has taught editing and post-production at The State University of New York at Oswego and documentary editing at UCL.  


Catalin Brylla is a lecturer for fiction and documentary film at the University of South Wales. He works as a freelance documentary filmmaker and editor, and specialises in transnational documentaries and short films that have been screened and broadcast internationally. As a practice-based film scholar his research encompasses a variety of disciplines, such as ethnography, audience reception, aesthetics, cognitive psychology, phenomenology and cultural studies. He is currently doing his PhD by Practice at Goldsmiths College, exploring alternative representations of disability in documentary films by placing particular focus on space, artefacts and the quotidian.

Freelance Profile


Academic Profile

Havana Marking

Havana Marking, a British journalist and filmmaker, Havana Marking’s latest feature doc Smash & Grab: the Story of the Pink Panthers, has its festival premier in Nov 2012 and will be released in cinemas in 2013. Funded by the BFI and BBC Storyville this part animated film reveals the world of a Balkan diamond thieving mafia.

Her first feature documentary, Afghan Star, won both the Directing and Audience awards in Sundance 2009, The Grierson award for ‘best doc on a contemporary issue’ and the Prix Italia. She has subsequently made films for HBO (Silencing the Song), and More4 (Vote Afghanistan!) and Channel 4 (Michael Johnson: Survival of the fastest). She was recently voted a “Reel Screen Doc Hot shot 2012’: representing the future of feature-length non-fiction.

An Executive Producer on numerous films, notably To Hell and Back Again (dir Danfung Dennis), which was nominated for an Academy Award 2012. Marking is one director of the British independent film company Roast Beef Productions, whose ‘business plan’ was only to: “Get a studio, fill it with talented people and see what happens”… Finally her articles and photographs have been published in the Guardian, The Observer and the Telegraph.

Ben Pollard

Ben Pollard, the additional course tutor, has worked as a professional editor and cameraman in TV for the past seven years. He has shot and directed his own creative films. He is experienced in a variety of different styles and genres and has credits with major UK broadcasters including BBC, ITV and Channel 4. He was the main cameraman and editor for “The Politics Show” (Juniper Productions/BBC1) in 2007 and he was an editor on “60 Minute Makeover” (ITV) in 2008. Ben lived in Buenos Aires in 2009 and edited an animated series for Fox UK and Italy. He has recently filmed documentaries for screening on Channel4 and BBC3.


Mark Le Fanu (Senior Tutor in Film History) film history at the National Film and Television School and, for a number of years, at the European Film College in Denmark . Latterly (along with stints as an English and History tutor) he was on the media faculty at Aarhus University. He is a long-term contributor to Sight & Sound  and to the French monthly Positif.  Research interests, besides documentary, include Russian, French and Japanese cinema, and the cinema of the silent epoch. He is the author of the first English-language study of Tarkovsky (BFI Books 1987). A book on Kenji Mizoguchi (Mizoguchi and Japan, BFI Books, 2005) was nominated for the Krazsna-Krausz Moving Image Book of the Year. He is currently engaged in writing a short, essayistic study about cinema and religion. 

Previous Tutors


Chris Martin began filmmaking by shooting and editing skateboard videos, before heading out to Central and South America to work as a photojournalist, contributing to a number of UK publications.  On his return he studied anthropology at UCL and started working for television production companies.  In a bid to learn as much as possible he alternatively worked in the editorial, production and technical sides of the industry.  He became a producer and director of photography, producing and shooting documentary films for Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel from Guatemala to Turkey.  This work included: Location Producer - The Search [Guatemala and Peru] (Channel 4, 2006), Shooting Producer - Worlds Greenest Homes (National Geographic Channel, 2007) and Director of Photography - The Woman Who Talks To Animals (Discovery Channel, 2008).  In 2008, after receiving funding from the Channel 4 young directors programme, Chris decided to set up his own company and embark on a project to re-live George Orwell’s 1928 study of urban poverty: Down and out in Paris and London.  This phenomenological approach led to him working in hotel kitchens in Paris and living for six months on the streets of London, all the time documenting his experiences.  The experiential technique led to an interest in applied anthropology and filmmaking.  Chris continues to make documentaries, music videos, short films and work as a cinematographer.

Mike York

Dr. Michael Yorke (Senior Tutor), is an
anthropologist who specialised in South Asian tribal people at SOAS. In
mid-career he joined the BBC Ethnographic Film Unit. With a mission to empower
the indigenous voice, he made a number of award-winning films for the BBC2
‘Under The Sun’ series in the 80s and 90s. His “Dossers” film was selected for
a BAFTA nomination. “Dust and Ashes” won the National Geographic Earthwatch
Award. “The End of Eden”, about the demise of the Marsh Arabs under Saddam
Hussein, won the United Nations Environmental Award, and “Eunuchs – India’s
Third Gender” won the San Francisco Golden Gate Award and was broadcast
worldwide. After becoming a freelancer, he masterminded Channel 4’s big series
“Kumbh Mela – The Greatest Show on Earth” in 2001, which received 6
international awards. It was broadcast daily ‘as-if-live’ for three weeks. Made
with a team of 67, it heralded a new format of event-driven ethnographic film
on primetime television. He has also directed documentaries for National
Geographic, Discovery Channel, Arte, Canal+, Carlton and NHK. With the
increasing commercialisation of television, Michael now provides masterclasses
for the new generation of concerned filmmakers. He continues to make his own
personally motivated single operator observational films for the narrowcast

Mick Csáky

Mick Csáky – documentary film writer, producer and director

Since leaving the Film & Television School of The Royal College of Art in 1972 Mick Csáky has directed more than 100 documentary films and produced a further 600 productions – all for broadcast television, with some for cinema and DVD release - mostly in the areas of human stories, history, current affairs, biography, music and arts. 

His productions have won many international awards, including a US National Emmy and an International Emmy. In 1998 he was awarded a Fellowship by the Royal Television Society  “in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the furtherance of television.” 

He is Chief Executive and Creative Director of his own independent production company Antelope South Limited. To visit his company website and see his

He is a trustee of One World Media:

To view three of Mick Csáky's past documentary film productions click on the following links: 

  • “THE GODMOTHER OF ROCK & ROLL: Sister Rosetta Tharpe” (2011)  A one-hour documentary about the influential music of African-American gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe:
  • “GEIKO GIRL” (2000)  A one-hour documentary about a geisha girl working within the Gion district of Kyoto, Japan:
  • “CARAVANS OF GOLD” (1983)  Episode 3 of the 8 x one-hour documentary series AFRICA presented by the historian Basil Davidson:


James Dawson is an award-winning freelance factual and documentary filmmaker. He made the first Secret Millionaire broadcast which won the Rose D’or. He also worked on the BAFTA and Grierson winning documentary series The Trust. Recently James directed Making Faces about the work of the Maxiofacial Lab at QE Hospital in Birmingham and before that a BBC documentary Up In Flames: Mr Reeves and the Riots following eighty-year-old Maurice Reeves, owner of Croydon's Reeves Furniture store, who had to watch his 144-year-old family business go up in flames in the 2011 riots. The film follows him in the aftermath of that night. Time Out said: “Against all odds, a genuinely uplifting tale.”

James devised and taught on London Metropolitan University’s MA modules in documentary film-making; he’s also taught at UCL on the introduction to documentary short courses and tutored on DV Talent’s two day camera intro workshops. 

Olly Lambert

Olly Lambert graduated in English Literature from Durham University, and worked his way up as a researcher and Assistant Producer of documentaries before making his first film for Channel 4 in the UK in 1999. "Four Weeks to Find a Girlfriend” was a candid account of his own search for love as a London 20-something, and was nominated for a Grierson Awards for Best Newcomer, as well as a BAFTA for Best New Director. Since then, he has filmed, produced and directed over 25 documentaries for broadcasters the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky1, specialising in intimate films about ordinary people caught in extraordinary situations, often in areas of conflict. His films include “The Tea Boy of Gaza” (BBC, UK), a moving portrayal of a young boy who dodges bullets to support his family among the patients and staff at the biggest hospital in the Gaza strip:  “Battle Hospital” (Channel 4, UK), for which he was embedded at a British military field hospital during the invasion of Iraq in 2003; and most recently, "Syria Across the Lines", a shocking account of life on both sides of a sectarian front line in rural Syria. He has won a number of international awards, including the Foreign Press Association award of “Journalist of the Year”.    

Filmmaking Facilities & Services at UCL

in the Anthropology Department Visual Laboratory

Cameras and Filming Equipment:

Student on the MA Ethnographic and Documentary Film will be supplied with:

  • Sony HDR-NX3 Camera
  • Sennheiser Radio Mics
  • Rode microphone 
  • SD Cards
  • Lishuai Lighting Kit
  • Professional Sony headphones
  • E-image tripod

For our short courses and term length modules we supply:  

1. Ten x Canon XF100 camera kits

2. Nine x Panasonic HMC41E camera kits

These kits are normally shared one between two

We also have:

  • 6 Sennheiser Radio Mics
  • A selection of cardioid and hypercardioid (directional & shotgun). microphones, boom poles and XLR cables
  • 5 SteadyWings hand-held camera mounts
  • Monopods & rotating pistol grips

Editing Suites:

  • 15 Mac based Adobe Premier Pro CC (2014) workstations, the staions have the complete Adobe Creative Cloud suite
  • A 52-inch flat screen playback monitor

Equipment (such as tripods and radio mics) can be booked out by any student taking our courses. They are subject to avliability and should be booked at lest 48 hours in advance. The booking form can be found below:

Equipment can also be hired from the department at a cost by those not taking one of our courses. Please contact for more details.

Video & DVD Library

The department holds a large collection of DVDs of important documentary films that students and researchers can borrow.
We have a large number of streamable films that you can see online.
The catalogue for this library is available at the Dept. of Anthropology reception desk.

The great majority of items in the library have been purchased with income raised through subscriptions and ‘laboratory fees' paid by students on the filmmaking masters modules. Without this income, the library would not exist. Therefore, all users, with the exception of students paying ‘laboratory fees', are asked to pay a subscription. Current rates are £25 for all terms, £15 for one term.


All subscribers will be asked to register by completing a simple form with contact and programme details, as appropriate. All subscribers are required to give an email address. Registration can only be done during normal office hours only.

Location & Opening Times

Dept. of Anthropology, Reception Desk, 14 Taviton Street, London W1.
The Library is only open during normal office hours. Loans are possible over the Easter and Christmas vacation, but the library is closed during the summer.

Borrowing rights

Users with borrowing rights are only allowed to check out 1 item at a time.
Items must be returned to the receptionist during working hours.
Items may be renewed (if there is no hold on it) but they must be renewed in person, during opening hours, with the item present.
Anyone who has an outstanding fine will not be allowed to check out another item until the fine has been paid.
Fines will be £5.00 per item per day. With 'days' counting as opening days.

Testimonials and Webcasts

Sacha 'wanabe David Attenborough' Coward

“Thanks Mike. I just want to let you know how much I enjoyed this course. I’ve had such a ball and you’ve been such a fantastic and approachable mentor. I really want to build on what I’ve leant over the past few months and I am thinking of taking a PhD in Science Communication and specialising in film and visual media. I have to thank you for a new sense of enthusiasm and purpose… BIG THANKS!”

Sacha Coward now has a job researching and making films at the Natural History Museum due to his performance on the course.

Alex Sherlock

“Thank you so much for your very generous help and support. This has been a really wonderful course and fantastic value for all the attention you have given to each of us. It has been a very valuable addition to my MA in Material and Visual Culture, and will help me with my PhD application as they require someone with film experience – it really couldn’t have worked out better! I would absolutely recommend the course to anyone that has interest in documentary filmmaking”.

Alex got a PhD scholarship to analyse shoes and identity using film as a research methodology.

Tom Hand

“Thank you for a truly amazing term! The course really has been the best module I’ve been on and very good value for money! No teacher has ever given as much as you have to a course. The training and sheer quantity of information in the handouts was amazing. I think that it was great having you and the excellent Yaron as I think you work slightly differently – so bounce off each other extremely well as a result. The structuring of the lessons was very good and allowed for very productive conversations about what we were learning/filming in amongst the teachers and the class. Thanks for a great and enjoyable training”

After the module Tom got a job as a runner with the Moving Picture Company. He is now working for Lion TV

Steph Patten

“Please find my project diary attached. I have had the best time on this course – you have been such an inspiration as a film maker, person and teacher. I have learnt so much and am really grateful of all your detailed feedback throughout the course. I do hope it goes from strength to strength – I shall recommend it highly!”

Steph's superb film about a soldier recovering from PTSD was so revealing and intimate that it cannot be put online.

Leili Sreberny-Mohammadi

“I just wanted to thank you for yesterday. It was really interesting to see everyone’s films and discuss them. Also, out of all the lecturers you have been by far the most passionate, inspiring and interested in us as individuals. I have greatly appreciated that”.

See Leili's light-hearted film "Persepolis in Peckham" on and Iranian corner shop in London

Dawn Collins

"Thanks for all your comments on my revised proposal. I do find them very helpful and hope I will learn a lot through this process. As you said yesterday, we have not had time to make enough mistakes – so I hope this film might end up being the greatest and most wonderful mistake of these past couple of PhD years. It will be easier to hold onto the faith that such an ambitious dream could work because you think there’s a chance of that. The film course with you has opened up new worlds of possibilities for me as a medium through which I can find means of expression. I will be recommending it highly"

Dawn is now working as a researcher on a proposed documentary for Channel4 portraying the valley communities of Bridgend,

Anna Caffrey

“Just a quick hello to tell you how helpful the filmmaking mantras you taught us have been as I wrestle with my dissertation write-up! Just like rushes, I have an over abundance of data. But it has been incredibly useful to stick to my intentions. I’d rather be cutting a film than typing all day, but I am glad to find an overlap between the two. What you taught us continues to have an impact on my work and life - the sign of a true mentor! I highly recommend your course.”

See Anna's film "Steve Writes Words" on the frustrations and triumphs of an aspiring freelance journalist

See all the films made by module and workshop students at

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