UCL's Open City Docs School
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 firstname.lastname@example.org *
- Introduction to Documentary Film and Camera Skills (5-day)
- Making Radio Documentary
- ANTHGS20 & ANTHGS25: Practical Ethnographic Filmmaking (postgraduate modules that can be taken for credit)
- Previous courses
*Fees are non-refundable but credit can be transferred to another course.
INTRODUCTION TO DOCUMENTARY FILM AND CAMERA SKILLS
Course dates - 5 days; Monday 3rd November to Friday 7th November
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.
Maximum 14 participants
£550 / £500 for students / £450 for UCL students (Please note student places are limited)
MAKING RADIO DOCUMENTARY
Course dates - Monday 3rd November, Monday 10th November, Monday 17th November, Monday 24th November and Monday 1st December.
Led by Chloe Hadjimatheou (Reporter/ Producer for the BBC World Service), this course will introduce students to the range of skills needed to make a radio documentary. Topics covered will include interview technique, equipment, how to structure and edit your documentary, and how to get your work broadcast on the radio. As part of the course you will have the opportunity to complete a short radio documentary recorded on a smartphone. Students should come prepared with narrative ideas if they plan to use the course to make a short audio doc.
The course is aimed at those already working in TV or film who want to expand their skills into radio as well as first-time documentary makers.
One of the previous students of the course is currently in the process of developing the documentary idea from her course with the BBC Radio Current Affairs.
Maximum 12 participants
£150 / £125 for students / £100 for UCL students (Please note student places are limited)
ANTHGS20 & ANTHGS25: PRACTICAL ENTHNOGRAPHIC FILM-MAKING
ANTHGS20 began in term one, ANTHGS25 still has places available for term two.
This course, led by Senior Tutors Vikram Jayanti in term one and Havana Marking in term two, focuses on the 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.
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.
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: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/anthropology/ahrc-training/courses/film-courses
DSLR for Documentary with Ben Pollard
An introductory practical course covering all aspects of filming documentaries on Canon DSLRs. The course will consist of a mixture of lectures, practical filming exercises and review sessions. It will cover all aspects of camera operation, audio recording and settings as well as filming techniques specific to documentary. Students will be expected to bring their own Canon camera and external microphone.
Sound for Self-shooters with Tim Bamber
Sound for Self-shooters 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. Taught by Tim Bamber (www.timbamber.com/home)
How to Make a Radio Documentary
Led by Chloe Hadjimatheou (Reporter/ Producer for the BBC World Service), this course will introduce students to the range of skills needed to make a radio documentary. Topics covered will include interview technique, equipment, how to structure and edit your documentary, and how to get your work broadcast on the radio. As part of the course you will have the opportunity to complete a short radio documentary recorded on a smartphone.
The course is aimed at those already working in TV or film who want to expand their skills into radio as well as first-time documentary makers.
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.
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 CV: www.antelope.co.uk
He is a trustee of One World Media: www.oneworldmedia.org.uk
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
- “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.”
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
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.
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."
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.
graduated in English Literature from Durham University, and worked his
as a researcher and Assistant Producer of documentaries before making
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,
well as a BAFTA for Best New Director. Since then, he has filmed,
produced and directed over 25 documentaries for broadcasters the BBC,
and Sky1, specialising in intimate films about ordinary people caught in
extraordinary situations, often in areas of conflict. His films include
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
hospital in the Gaza strip: “Battle Hospital” (Channel 4, UK), for
he was embedded at a British military field hospital during the invasion
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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
Filmmaking Facilities & Services at UCL
in the Anthropology Department Visual Laboratory
Cameras and Filming Equipment
1. Eight Sony PD170 camera kits fully equipped with:
These are sturdy and reliable standard definition cameras recording to 60-minute
MiniDV or 40-minutes DVCAM tapes
2. Nine x Panasonic HMC41E camera kits fully equipped with:
These are state of the art (2011) AVCHD tapeless cameras recording to 2 x SDHC
16GB cards, higher resolution than HDV.
3. A selection of cardioid and hypercardioid (directional & shotgun). microphones, boom poles and XLR cables
4. 4 sets of Sennheiser radio microphones
5. 5 SteadyWings hand-held
5. 1 Handycam
6. 4 Monopods & rotating pistol
Mac based Adobe Premier Pro workstations
2. A 52-inch flat screen playback monitor.
Mentoring, advice and supervision
Dr Michael Yorke can provide this to anyone involved in film production, giving assistance with proposals, scripting, narrative structure, visualisation, executive advice at assembly, rough cut, fine cut and outputting phases of production to maximise receptivity and achieve broadcast quality.
Technical facilities and assistance
We can provide assistance with digitising, streaming and web output.
Archiving and storage
We can archive and store completed media files.
This equipment and services are available at cost to all members of the Anthropology Department through a booking system organised by Treasa O Brien, email email@example.com
Module students and workshop participants paying the laboratory fee have full use of this equipment for the duration of their course.
For non-departmental personnel at UCL it is available at cheap costs to cover servicing, repair and replacement. For details and rates email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
- Watch his film "I Believe…" at www.dailymotion.com/group/uclfilm/2?mode=playlist#videoId=
“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.
- See Alex’s film “All My Love” about the nature of memory and emotion contained in material objects at www.dailymotion.com/video/xdw9t1_all-my-love-by-alex-sherlock_people
“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
- See his film on a Big Issue seller at www.dailymotion.com/video/xdvk1m_on-the-pavement-by-tom-hand_people
“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.
“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
"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,
“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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UCL Anthropology, 14 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BW Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 8633