Film Training, September 2007

In September 2007, in collaboration with the Foundation for Visual Anthropology Marie Curie SocAnth launched the first in a series of international film schools for fellows of our program. The aim is here is to offer practical and theoretic training in making a documentary film in the context of the sole, genuine studio of documentary film production that exists today in Romania.

To this end SocAnth recruited the services of the Oxford Academy of Documentary Film who specialise in courses for postgraduates who have an interest in video-making but little technical knowledge or experience. Thanks to sponsorship from Sony (Romania) we have had five professional HVR-V1E cameras available for students to use during the course, providing them with access to the very best, broadcast quality technology.

The film course involves practical training in all elementary aspects of documentary production - in this case concluding with editing a short documentary about the market in Sibiu. Thanks to OADF's association with AppleMac, we were able to provide workstations and the software package Final Cut Pro for students on the course in order to edit this film. This provided an ideal opportunity for our researchers to familiarise themselves with a first-class editing program that is fast becoming the leading professional filmmaker's tool.

Our lead trainer has been Michael Yorke, a filmmaker, photographer, writer and anthropologist. He has made 24 documentaries for television and won many awards including the San Francisco Golden Gate Award, two Royal Television Society awards, a BAFTA nomination, the UN Environmental Award, the National Geographic Earthwatch Award, and the BBC Asia Award.

Foremost among his many productions for broadcasters such as BBC2, Channel4, Discovery Channel, Canal+, Arte, CNN and NHK have been:
  • Kumbh Mela : The Greatest Show on Earth, a series of 19 'as-if-live' broadcast events from the great Kumbh Mela pilgrimage on the River Ganges; dubbed 'the largest human gathering on earth', which he devised and directed with a team of 63 in 2001.
  • Peoples' Planet : What Price Nature?, a 52 minute environmental film on the need to factor the price of nature's free services into the global economic balance sheet in 2000 .
  • Ray Mears' World of Survival : The Coromandel Coast a 29 minute journey with Ray Mears to discover how the fishermen of the East coast of India invented the catamaran and, survive on the palmyra palm in 1998.
  • The End of Eden, a 50 minute exposť of the horrific genocide of the Marsh Arabs of the Southern Iraq and the destruction of one of the world's great wetland ecosystems in 1995.
He has recently lectured in Visual Anthropology at the LSE, SOAS, Oxford University, Goldsmiths College and Manchester University Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, and is a member the Royal Anthropological Institute Film Committee.

The host for this training has been the Foundation for Visual Anthropology which is the chief organiser of this year's Astra Film Festival ( Their inspirational work in documentary and ethnographic film has meant that they are the ideal place in Romania to carry out this kind of training.