Documentary Courses at Open City Docs School
Filmmaking, Film Theory and Radio Courses
Since February 2014, Open City Docs School has been running short 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
- Practical Documentary Filmmaking
Course Tutor: Sandhya Suri for ANTHGS20 and Dieter Deswarte for ANTHGS25
The course is led by award winning directors Sandhya Suri (I for India) and Dieter Deswarte focuses on self-shooting skills, with a focus on the fundamentals of observational filming. Students will shoot, record sound, edit and direct their own 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 10 minute video project 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, aesthetic, and representational dynamics involved in documentary 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.
Students undertaking the course in either term 1 or term 2, will have full access to the UCL Anthropology Audio Visual Lab with Premiere CC and Adobe Creative Suite enabled machines as well as professional camera kits (shared one between two students) for the duration of the course. Students will have a further five weeks at the end of the course to complete their film project.
You can see examples of films made by previous students at our testimonials page.
A reduced lab fee is required for those taking the course for UCL credit (please contact email@example.com for more details). This course is available to external candidates for £1600.
Please note participants are also required to bring two external hard-drives on the course. Cameras are shared with one other person. 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.
- Film Theory: Experimental Ethnographic and Documentary Films
Course Dates: TBC
This eight-week evening course, lead by TBC, provides opportunities to watch and discuss 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, fiction films and from experimental modes to collage, made out of found footage.
Below is an indication of what topics and films will be covered over the eight sessions:
- Silent cinema and early ethnographic film
- Peoples without Land: Pastoral Nomads in East Africa
- Jean Rouch and Cinéma Vérité
- Slow Cinema
- USA - Observational Mode and Visual Diaries
- Visual Anthropology and the City
- Experimental Cinema and the Essay Film
- Participatory Video Making
Maximum 25 Students
Price: £125/ £115 Student/ £105 UCL Student
- Shooting Documentary: An Introduction
Course Tutor: Isis Thompson
Course dates: Sat 7th April, Sat 14th April and Sat 21st April
Over three Saturdays you will learn the camera skills essential to shooting in the documentary style. Through a series of camera exercises of increasing complexity you should will learn the following skills:
- hand held shooting technique using professional video camera
- using a tripod
- intelligent use of automatic controls
- getting good sound for interviews
- filming a sequence
- filming uncontrolled action
- filming for the edit
Isis will go though the editing process with Editor Helen Lawson who is cutting her current project. They will go though Isis' raw material and explain why certain choice were made in the brining together of a scene.
Course costs: £300 / £270 (student) / £250 (UCL student)
- Making Radio Documentary
Course Tutor: Chloe Hadjimatheou
Course Dates: Wednesday Evenings 7-9pm from 18th April -16th May 2018
This course is targeted towards people who want to make the move from video to radio documentaries, those who want to make their first ever documentary and people who are just passionate about listening to radio programmes. This course aims to give you the basic skills you need to get out there and start recording and putting together your own doc. We will study techniques and industry tips and listen to lots and lots of great radio. This is an opportunity to pitch ideas and develop them throughout the course. For those who want to have a go, there will be practical exercises to get you to lose your inhibitions and start recording.
The following topics are only indicative:
Where to go for ideas and inspiration
How to choose equipment
Structuring your doc
Editing using free programme Audacity
Where to take your ideas
Chole Hadjimatheou is an award-winning BBC reporter and producer whose work includes: Islamic State’s Most Wanted, Searching for Tobias, No Place to Die, America Revisited, Why Do People Hear Voices?
Maximum 12 participants
£180 / £160 for students / £140 for UCL students (Please note student places are limited)
'This was a brilliant introductory course to radio documentary making - informative, practical and inspiring. I'd highly recommend it.' - Ellen Wiles
- Documentary Storytelling
Course Tutor: Catalin Brylla
Course Dates: 1st May to the 29th May 2018
This course is targeted towards documentary practitioners who are either preparing, shooting or editing their documentary, scholars who want to analyse or write about documentaries, and people who are simply passionate about non-fiction films. Keeping the balance between the theory OF practice and the theory IN practice, each session will include discussions of how theoretical concepts relate to formal considerations in documentary filmmaking.
The following topics are only indicative:
- Documentary elements
- Soviet montage and conceptual watching
- The Poetic Documentary
- Spatial and emotional impact of shot sizes
- The immersive actuality of continuity
- The Observational Documentary
- Character profiling through interviews
- The function of cutaways
- The Interactive Documentary
- Participatory documentary formats
- Brecht and defamiliarising the audience
- The Reflexive Documentary
- The Hybrid Documentary
- Memory, identity and rhetoric through the archive
- The Expository Documentary
- Narrative structure: story and plot
- Narrative point-of-view and subjectivity
£150 / £140 for students / £130 for UCL students (Please note student places are limited)
- Documentary Concepts and research
Course Dates: 28th Feb to the 21st March 2018
This course is for documentary practitioners who want to critically frame their filmmaking in order to produce thought-provoking films that have social and cultural implications. It also addresses a broad range of conceptual methodologies that offer a good springboard for practice-led research (e.g. practice-based PhD, visual ethnography, experimental filmmaking, video art, etc.). Although no prerequisites are required, it is generally recommended that participants first do the “Documentary Storytelling” course. At the discretion of the tutor, participants can bring their own material for discussing their research.
Course Tutor: Dr. Catalin Brylla, practice-led film scholar and Senior Lecturer in Film at the University of West London
Indicative Course Outline:
Session 1: The Mediation of Space and Time
Observational documentary as a record of time
Memory as trace and event
Session 2: The Essay Film
Session 3: Narrative Voice and Embodied Experience
The formal, open and poetic voice
The performative documentary
Session 4: Representation
Social schemas and spectatorship
Case study: undoing disability stereotypes
- Summer Film School 2018
Dates Monday 2nd July - Friday 20th July
SUMMER FILM SCHOOL - Over Six Weeks
Course Dates: Monday 2nd July - Friday 20th July (Core Teaching) - Experience Level suggested - Beginner to intermediate.
Over the course of six weeks you will aim to complete a short documentary film of 5 to 10 minutes. The course is suitable for beginners who have had no formal filmmaking training, however it would also be beneficial for those wishing to expand their skills into the self-shooting mode or those who wish to brush up on their filmmaking skills.
In the first three weeks we will focus on building the technical and analytical skills needed to complete a documentary film project. Through a variety of a practical exercises you will learn to produce, direct, shoot and edit. These are the four core skills you need to master to become a successful self-shooting director. In addition we will have an in depth look at the art of filmmaking and you’ll have the chance to learn from some of the best in the field through several guest lectures.
After an intensive three week course you will then have three weeks to complete your final film. During this period you will have access to the equipment and edit suites available at Open City Documentary School at UCL. Your required commitment following the core course teaching is two one-on-one meetings in weeks four and five with the course tutors to support the making of your film. In the last week of your course you will screen your rough cut on one day and then on the last day, there will be a final screening where students can share their work on the big screen.The course leader for the 2018 edition will be Katharine Round and the senior tutor is Marc Isaacs.
Course costs: £1600
Please note that you will be required to bring two external hard-drives with you on the course. For further information on the course please visit Open City Docs School at UCL
- Introduction to 360° Spatial Audio Production
Course Tutor: Jack Reynolds
Course Dates: March 13th to the 17th of April 2018
The course leader is Jack Reynolds MEng EEE IET. BBC R&D Interactive and Immersive content. Specialist 360 audio engineer at SohoVR, CEO of Reynolds Microphones, musician and sound designer. President of the UCL Audio Engineering Society.
The course will cover all practical and conceptual aspects of 360 spatial audio recording, mixing and exporting for delivery on multiple platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, and the GearVR. It will concentrate on sound for 360 video production and will appeal to those with some filmmaking knowledge or previous audio engineering knowledge who wish to explore the creating soundtracks for 360 videos.
Over the five weeks, you will learn practical techniques to capture spatial audio, Using industry standard tools including Sennheiser microphones, Zoom field recorders, the Facebook 360 Audio suite of audio tools and Reaper digital audio workstation. You will learn how to record, edit and mix ambisonic spatial audio then combine the finished mix with a 360 video, ready for delivery. The course will be part lecture, part practical exercises, with an emphasis on you being able to create a finished project as quickly as possible.
Week 1: Fundamental concepts of spatial audio
Week 2: Recording audio for 360 video
Week 3: Editing and manipulating 360 audio
Week 4: Spatial mixing, Immersive sound design, Music and Headlocked stereo
Week 5: Exporting, Encoding, and Muxing for Delivery
Course contents overview:
Fundamentals of spatial audio.
Basics of human hearing and psychoacoustics
Key differences between spatial and traditional audio
Ambisonics and other spatial formats
Learning how to identify ‘good’ and ‘bad’ spatial audio
Critical listening exercises and understanding what the medium can offer.
Using 360 Audio as a creative storytelling tool for increased immersion.
Learning outcomes: Familiarity with the basic concepts and advantages of spatial audio as well as commonly used terminology.
Materials: These discussions will be covered via slides that will be provided to people attending the course with further detail via links to reference resources including examples of various spatial audio formats.
Recording audio for 360 Video.
Onset, wild-track, and spatial sound design techniques (Sound Particles).
A-Format, and lapel radio microphones and using field recorders.
Spatial foley recording.
Use of voiceover and headlocked stereo (diegetic vs non-diegetic).
Learning outcomes: An understanding of the different approaches required for producing audio for 360 video, with some practical hands-on experience using industry standard 360 audio recording equipment.
Materials: Slides and reference resources will be provided as well as useful links which may further illustrate the topic
Introduction to editing spatial audio with Reaper (Digital Audio Workstation)
Introduction to the Facebook Audio360 Workstation suite of plugins and tools.
Learning outcomes: Familiarity with the layout and toolsets available within Reaper and the FB360 workstation, editing some basic audio examples to fit with a 360 video
Materials: Reaper sessions with preset layouts and example audio and video files will be provided, plus links to video tutorials and additional reference materials.
Spatial Mixing and automation in Reaper
Immersive sound design techniques and resources
Use of reverberation for increased realism
Basics of binaural headphone delivery and speaker arrays
Learning outcomes: mastering the basics of the more detailed controls within Reaper to automate an audio source to follow an object within a 360 video, implementing room simulation and gaining a deeper understanding of the signal flows required for ingesting, editing, spatialising and automating the movement of audio sources in the 360 soundfield.
Materials: Slides and video tutorials will be provided along with example Reaper session files.
Exporting master audio mixes from reaper.
Target output levels, optimisation, and good monitoring practices.
Encoding and muxing for multiple delivery platforms including Youtube, Facebook, and Samsung Gear VR
Uploading, sideloading and checking before final delivery.
Future developments and ways to stay current.
Slides and video tutorials will be provided as well as example movie files, audio files, and Reaper sessions
Learning outcomes: A finalised 3d audio mix will be joined with an example 360 video and loaded onto a Samsung gearVR and uploaded to Facebook and Youtube, showing the variations between the platforms and the considerations which must be taken into account during the creative process, in order for the finished product to perform optimally on the desired target platform. Limitations and some of the difficulties in delivering and publishing will be discussed and methods for keeping up with the fast pace of a newly developing field will be given.
Course costs: £250 / £225 for students / £200 for UCL students
- Introduction to Interactive VR 360° Film
Course dates: January 17th to the 14th of February 2018
Course Tutor: Jeremiah Ambrose (M.Sc, M.Phil, BA (Hons))Working in the areas of digital art, media futures and experimental practice, Jeremiah’s research ideas explored in both his M.Sc in Interactive Digital Media and his M.Phil in Film Theory and History.
A quick overview and access to Gear 360 cameras will be provided on this course.
● (Session 1) Unity Basics
● (Session 2) Creating a 360° Film Scene
● (Session 3) Making an Interactive 360° Film Project 1 (Key Concepts)
● (Session 4) Making an Interactive 360° Film Project 2 (Practice)
● (Session 5) Building and Publishing an Interactive 360° Project
Course Contents Overview:
Session 1 - Unity Basics
● What is Unity?
● Main Windows
● Game Objects
● The Asset Store
● Publishing Builds
● Why Build 360° Film in Unity?
Learning outcomes: Familiarity with the basics of the Unity interface and common terms used in
relation to this software.
Materials: These discussions will be covered via slides that will be provided to people attending
Session 2 - Creating a 360° Film Scene
● Video Sphere - Importing a suitable sphere and positioning it for your scene.
● Shaders - Making a shader that will allow you to view inside of a sphere.
● Main camera - Explaining how the virtual camera becomes the user’s body.
● Video Player - Understanding how its components work and playing a scene.
Learning outcomes: Understanding the central components involved in building a scene and
applying these by creating your own 360° scene.
Materials: All of the relevant scripts will be provided along with comments for people to
understand how they work. These will be discussed to give a brief insight into programming
Session 3/4 - Making an Interactive 360° Film 1/2 (Key Concepts/Practice)
● Virtual Gaze Interaction - Define and explain in the context of this course.
● Ray Tracing - Brief overview to contextualise VGI.
● Mesh Colliders - Explain how these work and their role in relation to VGI.
● Scene Activation - Show how to trigger a scene change.
● Build settings - Covering how scenes need to be added to the build.
● VR Reticles - Defining and discussing different reticle approaches.
Learning outcomes: Introduction to the theory and practice of virtual gaze interaction and
applying it to a scene to create movement between a series of 360° videos. This will be done
with invisible object interaction, imported 3D models and discussed briefly in relation to script
Materials: You will be provided with a project folder that will include 360° videos to work with, but this could be combined with material shot from other workshops at UCL.
Session 5 - Building and Publishing an Interactive 360° Project
● Mapping a Scene
● Non-linear / Linear Narratives
● Platforms & Building
● VR Analytics
● Gear VR Publishing
● Key Processes and Troubleshooting for App Building
● OSIG and Application Signing
● Publishing Platforms
Learning outcomes: Either previous work or an example provided will be published as a Gear
VR app. This process will demonstrate the nuanced considerations and processes involved for
error checking and publishing an app this way. People will also be made aware of how the
exporting of an interactive project and its desired platform will impact the overall project design.
Critical considerations of the available platforms will also be introduced.
£250 / £225 (Student)/£200 (UCL Student)
- Introduction to 360° Film Production Workflows
Course Dates: 7th March - 4th April 2018
This course is targeted at people with at some experience in film post-production, preferably with Adobe Premiere or After Effects. The course covers the technical workflow for monoscopic 360 film, focusing on stitching (Autopano Video and Giga), editing (Adobe Premiere), and compositing (Adobe After Effects).
Course Tutor: Anatole Sloan who is the managing director of Zoya Films in Soho, London.
Introduction to 360 cameras
Stitching, parallax, and multiple cameras
Current technology and industry trends
Rules and grammar of VR filmmaking:
Basic elements of 360 storytelling
Blocking in 360
Camera movement and editing in 360
Working with 360 in Adobe Premiere
Intro to 360 post-production workflow
Working with 360 videos in Premiere
Working with ambisonic sound in Premiere
Adobe / Skybox VR effects and transitions
Basic masking in Premiere
Stitching 360 videos with Kolor Autopano
Ingesting and preparing footage
Principles of stitching
Creating and refining a stitch
Intro to 360 in After Effects
Premiere to After Effects workflow
Intro to After Effects tools and layout
Adobe / Skybox tools and workflow
Basic compositing for 360 in After Effects
Removing tripods and crew using masks and paint tools
Working with 2D assets in 360
Delivering 360 video for different platform
Grant Gee is a self-shooting filmmaker and occasional freelance director. His most recent film Innocence of Memories, with original script by Nobel Laureate, Orhan Pamuk, premiered at the 2015 Venice Film Festival and received theatrical release thoughout Europe. He also collaborated with Pamuk (providing 7 screens of video installation) on the exhibition The Museum of Innocence at Somerset House, London in Feb 2016 .
From 2012 to 2015 he collaborated (as Video Director) with theatre director Katie Mitchell on many hybrid theatre/film projects at flagship European theatres and museums including productions of Herta Muller’s Travelling on One Leg at Scahubuhne, Hamburg, Michael Handke’s A Sorrow Beyond Dreams at the Burgtheater, Vienna, The Yellow Wallpaper at Schaubuhne, Berlin and the film/painting installation Sickert and The Three Graces for the Victoria and Albert museum.
In 2012, his film Patience (After Sebald) - about W.G. Sebald’s notoriously unclassifiable literary work The Rings of Saturn - premiered at the New York Film Festival and had successful theatrical releases in the UK and US.
His documentary Joy Division, premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, and won the Grierson award 2008 for Best Cinema Documentary and the Mojo Vision Award 2009, CPH:DOX festival’s (Copenhagen) Sound and Vision award for Best Music Film (2008) and the Audience Awards for Best Film at both Gdansk and ‘In-Edit’ Barcelona (also 2008).
Also in 2007 his film The Western Lands, a portrait of climber/writer Jim Perrin’s climb of The Old Man of Hoy, won best short film at the Banff Film Festival.
In a previous life he directed many music videos including for Radiohead’s No Surprises. He also directed the acclaimed feature documentary Meeting People is Easy (1998) about the band.
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 New York born, London based Film + TV Editor with over twenty-five years’ experience, accumulating a diverse and extensive list of credits including Julie Andrews’ Opening Night on Broadway, American Playhouse, and Shining Time Station.
She has been honoured with four New York Area Emmy Award Certificates during her ten years at WNET/thirteen, Highly Commended at Underwire's In The Cut: Best Editor Award 2015 for BOOTWMN, and shortlisted for the Kevin Spacey Foundation Artists of Choice Award 2016. Her work has screened on US, UK and Australian television and at film festivals worldwide including Clermont-Ferrand, HotDocs, Open City Doc Fest, London Short Film Festival, SF Frameline, LA Outfest, Athens International Film+Video Festival, BFI Flare and Fringe! Film Fest.
Along side her editing work, she has taught editing and post-production at SUNY/Oswego and currently teaches editing on the Ethnographic & Documentary Film MA programme at University College London.
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.
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.
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.
Xiaolu Guo is a British Chinese filmmaker, novelist and essayist. She has written and directed several feature films and visual essays. Her feature She, A Chinese received the Golden Leopard Award at Locarno Film Festival 2009. UFO In Her Eyes premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, received Best Script Award at Hamburg Film Festival. How is Your Fish Today was in official Selection at Sundance and received 1st prize at the International Women’s Film Festival France, 2007. Her documentary The Concrete Revolution received Grand Prix at the Human Rights Film Festival in Paris. Once Upon A Time Proletarian premiered at Venice Film Festival and TIFF 2010. We Went to Wonderland was selected for New Directors at MoMA in NYC. She also directed a film essay about Britain’s underclass society – Late At Night, which premiered at BFI London Film Festival 2014. Her most known novels include A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers and I Am China. Her latest book is Once Upon A time In the East. In 2013 She is named as a Granta’s Best of Young British Novelist.
Gareth Evans is a London-based writer, curator, presenter, producer and Whitechapel Gallery’s Film Curator. He is also co-curator of Swedenborg Film Festival, Estuary 2016, Whitstable Biennale and Utopia 2016 at Somerset House.
He created and programmed PLACE, the annual cross-platform festival at Aldeburgh Music, is Co-Director of production agency Artevents and has curated numerous film and event seasons across the UK (e.g. J.G.Ballard, Portugal, Roma Cinema, Armenia) at the Barbican, ICA, Institut Francais, Arnolfini and Watershed among many others). He conceived and curated the cross-arts London season John Berger: Here Is Where We Meet in 2005 and co-curated All Power to the Imagination! 1968 and Its Legacies in 2008. He regularly hosts events at institutions nationally and internationally.
He produced the essay film Patience (After Sebald) by Grant Gee as part of his nationwide arts project The Re-Enchantment (2008 - 2011) and has recently executive-produced the feature-length works Erase and Forget (Zimmerman, Berlin Panorama 2017), Unseen (Dryden Goodwin for Royal Museums Greenwich); By Our Selves (Andrew Kotting and Iain Sinclair for Soda Pictures); In Time: an Archive Life (Lasse Johansson) and is in development with Fly Film and the BFI for The Lighthouse (directed by Grant Gee and written with Sasha Hails). He commissioned Things by Ben Rivers, which won the 2015 Tiger Award at Rotterdam International Film Festival.
He worked on the film pages of Time Out from 2000-20005, edited the international moving image magazine Vertigo from 2002 – 2009 and now edits Artesian and co-edits for Go Together Press and House Sparrow Press. He has written numerous catalogue essays and articles on artists' moving image. Recent and forthcoming monograph pieces include Melanie Manchot, Siobhan Davies, Bill Morrison, Joshua Oppenheimer and Mark Boulos.
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.
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 market.
Mick Csáky – documentary film writer, producer and directorSince 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 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 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 Open City Docs School
Cameras and Filming Equipment
Students on the MA Ethnographic and Documentary Film will be supplied with:
- Sony HXR-NX3 Full HD Camera Kit
- Sennheiser Radio Mic Kit
- Røde Shotgun Microphone
- SD Cards
- Lishuai Lighting Kit
- Professional Sony Headphones
- E-image tripod
Students on our short courses and term-length modules will be supplied with one of the following kits:
- Canon XF100 Camera Kit
- Panasonic HMC41E Camera Kit
(Please note: these kits are normally shared one between two)
We also have available for borrowing and rental:
- Canon 700D DSLR Camera Kits
- Additional Sennheiser Radio Mic Kits
- Additional Lishuai Lighting Kits
- Shotgun Microphones
- Boom Poles and XLR Cables
- SteadyWings Hand-Held Camera Mounts
- Monopods and Tripods
- Pistol Grips
- Other Equipment
Students on courses have access to:
- 60 iMac workstations complete with 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 availability and should be booked at lest 48 hours in advance. The booking form can be found at: Equipment Hire Request Form.
Equipment can also be hired from the department at a cost by those not taking one of our courses. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
& 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.
A digital version of the library will be available soon in the Open City Docs School, South Wing.
Sharmin Ahammad - Summer Film School - 2017
UCL Summer School was a fantastic way of learning the skills of filmmaking and editing. You learn from incredibly inspiring, insightful and talented filmmakers and editors. I came away from the course with an enthusiasm and love for making films and equipped with the skills to do so.
Sarah Saey - Practical Documentary Filmmaking 2016
'Great introductory course that didn't seem to basic. While the course started from the basics the tutors didn't pitch it too low but instead really challenged us. Great value for money compared to other similar course.'
Here are examples of some of the films made during some of the Open City Docs School courses:
Love and Dementia by Dominic Sivyer
Dominic Sivyer’s grandparents are coming to terms with his grandfather’s early onset of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. His sense of humour remains intact, but the deterioration of his memory is putting a strain on their relationship. Sivyer’s honest account offers a glimpse into a 50-year marriage, filled with pain, love and laughter. Love and Dementia was acquired by The Guardian in 2016.
Dominic is now part of the prestigious BBC documentaries new directors initiative and has made an hour-long film for the BBC following on from his short film called Granddad, Dementia & Me which was broadcast in July 2017 on BBC One
Waste by Min Min Wu
Yanin Ma is an 11-year-old girl living with leukaemia. Her hometown in Shantou has become one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world and is now infamous for its electronic waste recycling industry. The family-run workshops that cover the city burn electronics sourced from all over the world in order to extract the rare metals they contain, a process that fills the atmosphere with dangerous toxins.
The film documents Yanin’s recovery having spent the last month undergoing chemotherapy in Guangzhou City. Yanin wants only to go home for the annual Children’s Day celebration, but some believe the pollution in her hometown could be the very cause of her illness.
Winner of the prestigious 2017 One World Media Student Award. Min Min is now working in Shanghai developing new projects.