Documentary filmmakers need to understand the world they live in - this unique MA programme in Ethnographic and Documentary Film Practice provides students with the full range of skills needed to achieve this, whilst building a diverse portfolio of work through the course. This programme is based out of UCL but run by leading film practitioners in the Open City Docs School, ensuring that students not only receive the highest-quality, practice-based learning, but do so in a top-level university research environment.
Building on the methodology that the Open City Docs School at UCL has developed since 2008, the core of the teaching programme for this practice-focused MA is practically-oriented training in all the technical issues surrounding the preparation, production, editing and distribution of visual image.
There are a choice of four studios offered by the MA in Ethnographic and Documentary Film Practice: 'Experimental & Cinematic Non-Fiction', 'Documentary for Broadcast and Beyond', 'Cinematic Documentary Storytelling' and 'UCL 360 - Immersive Factual Storytelling (VR/AR)'. Each is led by unique tutors and offer a distinct opportunity, catering to the varying interests and requirements of students entering this programme.
Students will be taught not only how to create powerful, engaging and technically professional film narratives but also to think about the fundamental question of 'why' films are, and should be, made. Creative engagement with questions of form is fostered, allowing for a reshaping of the social realities that film research brings into being.
All students have full access to an array of quality filmmaking equipment throughout the year and the resources necessary to complete their film projects. Our various Mac and VR Suites enable both small group teaching and larger cohorts of students to work together in comfortable and supportive environments.
When taking this MA you will become part of the creative non fiction community that Open City Docs is building at and around UCL, embodied most publicly in the Open City Documentary Festival.
A core course provides practical training with additional options providing supplemental teaching and opportunities. Students are able to complete further courses in film theory and history alongside weekly screenings and seminars, as well as dedicated courses on narrative and staged photography.
Those on the 'Experimental & Cinematic Non-Fiction' studio are encouraged to take 'The Story and I - Finding the form' (ANTH0081) as well as another option within Anthropology - concentrating their training in appropriate areas. Those doing 'Cinematic Documentary Storytelling' are encouraged to take a course in 'Understanding and Researching the Social World' (ANTH0110). Those joining the VR studio and are encouraged to take 'Experimental and Interactive Storytelling - Form and Narrative' (ANTH0083).
This MA will allow students to benefit from UCL's unique position in the heart of London, from the many activities in film within the Department of Anthropology, and also those offered by The Slade and The Bartlett - both of which have established moving image programs. Students may also benefit from collaborations with the Film Studies Programme and SSEES.
All students have access to UCL's camera and editing equipment, the extensive film collections in UCL Libraries and the Visual Anthropology laboratory. Each student has their own full camera kit which they keep throughout the year - avoiding the need to check equipment in and out. We have two dedicated editing suites, one with 20 iMacs and one with 25, as well as 30 PCs for VR.
With guidance from the course tutors, students will produce 3 documentary films in various modes to build a diverse portfolio of work, before producing a graduation film of 15-25 minutes in length.
The course is designed to teach camera and editing skills in a context of an enquiry into the social world. It is delivered in 11 hours a week of lab practice in the first term and 5 hours per week in the second. As well as occasional seminars and tutorials in both terms, there are further screenings and masterclasses concentrated in term two. In total, during the core course you will have 144 hours of contact with your tutors. The practical elements of the course are taught in paired sessions - the first being teacher-led and instruction-based. In the second, students' practical exercises are appraised, with the tutor providing individual guidance and feedback on your film practice.
Students will spend a minimum of 12 hours each week completing camera and editing exercises. You will also be expected to do some additional reading and watching films. Over the course of the two terms you will spend a further 110 hours preparing, filming and editing assessed work that will also prepare you for your graduation film. A total of 600 hours learning is allocated to the core course (one third of all your marks for the MA) and the assessment will combine formative and marked work, building up a portfolio of work over the period October-April. You will be encouraged to use your own computer equipment to allow off-site working (using your personal Adobe CC account) and will need your own external hard drive, but you will use the departmental cameras, radio mics and associated kit, decks, editing suite and workstations.
In summary, the core course structure includes the following elements: practical/technical issues in documentary and ethnographic practice; equipment, insurance, nature of film, filmic and digital methodology, technical handouts, field notes and project diary. The course outline for students studying in Studio 4: UCL 360 - Immersive Factual Storytelling will vary from this.
In detail, the practical training for non-fiction cinema will run as follows:
Cinematography / The History of the Shot
Methods of image capturing - effects and differences (technical and ideological) of camera types, lenses, shot length, composition and framing; shooting styles, history of the shot; history of ethnographic filming techniques and how changing technology has influenced creative outcomes.
Introduction to Digital Camera Functions / Technical
Battery use, tape formats & insertion, timecode, camera caveats, tripod & hand-held, manual white balance control, holding a frame, zoom control.
Advanced Camera Functions / Technical Continued
Manual control of focus, depth of focus, exposure, aperture, gain, neutral density, shutter speed; lighting techniques, sequence construction, edit points, and shooting to edit.
Audio Functions / Documentary Sound
Interviewing, framing, composition, backgrounds, techniques & methods. Audio monitoring, manual audio control, modulation, microphone choice & recording technique, Wild & atmos tracks.
Sound Design and Music in Documentary
Use of sound elements and music in documentary. Exercises in shooting to music and using sound creatively.
Ethnographic and Documentary Modes
Discussion of the representational capacity of documentary. Examination of a range of the technical, stylistic, aesthetic and representational dynamics deepens. Discussions of the 'truths', 'fictions', styles, genres, ethics and modes.
Film proposal & narrative structure: the production process, release forms, copyright issues, legal & ethical responsibilities, informed consent. Writing a proposal, budgeting and scheduling. Scripting & storyboarding. Style & aesthetics. Pre-production and preparation.
Presenting a film project to diverse audiences: subjects, funders, and broadcasters. Issue of audience and form - matching and challenging expectations and capacities.
How to direct the production and create own methodology: making a shotlist; interview techniques, styles and ethics; working with the production team on location; working as self-shooting PD (producer/director); studio shoots; setting up scenarios; collaborating with subjects; authorship and responsibility.
Transcription, paper editing, batch capture digitisation, browser administration, subclip creation, storyboarding, and timeline assembly.
Narrative structuring, synchronicity, continuity editing, cutaway insertion, transitions, effects, motion controls, key framing, subtitling, sound balancing, laying rough commentary, music and FX tracks.
Film pacing, final commentary recording and laying, colour balancing and correction, sound design, foley, music, audio mixing, levels and balance. Captions, subtitles, credits and titles.
Outputting - from Codec to Festival
Rendering, printing to tape, saving the image, Blu-ray/DVD burning and authoring, reaching an audience, distribution and festival submission.
Key Learning Outcomes
Generally graduates form the programme will be able to:
- reason critically
- devise a visual research project
- apply anthropological and social science approaches to film work
- identify and solve problems
- demonstrate and exercise independence of mind and thought
- critically view and read, analyse and interpret
- evaluate and integrate conflicting sources, evidence, theories and interpretation
- think critically about the relations between form and content in ethnographic/ documentary practice
Practically you will be able to:
- handle cameras to produce a broadcast quality image
- handle sound recording equipment to produce broadcast quality sound for film
- master the technical skills to use professional editing programme/s
- produce different sorts of films, of different lengths for varied audiences
- manage a film project carried out by oneself
- manage small-scale collaborative film projects
- critically view and review film material and produce argued justification for an analysis of such
- devise collaborative filmmaking projects
In terms of transferable skills, graduates will be able to:
- make a broadcast quality and more broadly screenable documentary film
- manage the production of such
- produce professional camerawork
- record sound for moving image to a professional level
- edit moving image to professional level and under pressure of time
- write analytically well grounded and persuasive analysis of film material
- work on collaborative film projects in terms of conception, management and delivery
- produce a budget and learn to 'pitch' a film to funders
- manage a range of IT programs and their integration within a given project
Open City Docs
Founded at UCL by Dr Michael Stewart in 2010, Open City Docs is dedicated to developing and supporting non-fiction storytellers. The organisation nurtures the next generation of filmmakers, audio producers and VR filmmakers through training programmes, the annual Open City Documentary Festival, and other screening projects throughout the year and is home to several projects in the world of documentary..
Students will benefit from access to the festival, held annually in London, and to a range of Open City's year-round screening and workshop events. MA students will also benefit from our connections and partnerships with organisations across the documentary industry both in the UK and internationally, and be provided with opportunities to attend festivals and events such as the RAI Film Festival and the Essay Film Festival.
Open City Documentary Festival
Open City Documentary Festival takes place over six days in venues across London and the programme offers a chance to see the best in contemporary, international documentary as well as filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, workshops, networking and parties. The ninth edition of the festival will take place between 4th - 10th September 2019.
Studio 1: Experimental & Cinematic Non-Fiction is for students who are interested in understanding and expanding the forms documentary and ethnographic film can take. We want students who are not afraid to challenge audiences and who think critically about their relationship to their subjects, and how this is expressed through the language of film. We believe McLuhan’s maxim ‘the medium is the message’ and expect students to engage with the theory, history and contemporary practice of non-fiction film. We create work at the intersection of artists’ moving image and cinematic festival documentary. We intend, as artist filmmakers, to be exploring, revealing, and communicating something of the human condition in our work. We recognise non-fiction cinema as containing a multiplicity of modes, and the core course is designed to give students the experience of producing work across that spectrum. Over the first 6 months of the MA students will produce three 5-7 minute films.
Film 1: Direct Cinema
Limitations stretch the imagination. We start the course with a rigorously observational project. This film is about the other. It takes place in the present tense, with events unfolding in front of your camera. In contrast to other studios, we do not allow any on-screen interaction between filmmaker and contributors - no interviews, no eye contact. No music, no archive, no narration, no text besides your title and credits. Only what you’ve recorded and how you put them together with sound design in your edit. There is no better training in camera, sound recording and storytelling than this.
Film 2: The Essay
Now we go to the other extreme. This film is about the self. In the essay film there are no rules, other than this must be “a personal investigation involving both the passion and intellect of the author.”1 We begin this project by seeing what we can say for ourselves by repurposing the archive of others. Then we examine the transformative power of writing and directing the spoken word - whether that be factual, dialectic, fictional, or poetic. Your final piece could be a searingly honest film about your experiences, a political argument, a poetic evocation, or a philosophical tour de force. But it is your thoughts which drive the narrative. What do you want to say about the world?
Film 3: Cinéma Vérité
In your Cinéma Vérité film it is the relationship between the self and the other which takes centre stage. In contrast to film 1, the act of filming is part of the film. “Participatory documentary gives us a sense of what it is like for a filmmaker to be in a given situation and how that situation alters as a result.”2
In this project the camera represents the filmmaker and your filming style will alter to reflect this. A subjective narration is allowed in your edit, as is your subject’s opinion of the material you show them. This film documents, as much as possible, the truth of the encounter between you, the filmmaker, and the people you film.
The course culminates in students directing their graduation films, mentored by leading filmmakers, intended to be calling cards for your cinematic voice. These films are 15 to 30 minutes in length. Students, armed with the knowledge and skills acquired during the core course, can choose any mode of non-fiction film they wish. Recent mentors reflect the diversity of practices by Studio 1 students: from Andrew Kötting to Simon Chambers; from Sophie Fiennes to Penny Woolcock; from Grant Gee to the Sensory Ethnography Lab’s Jeff Silva.
Our alumni have gone on to work as feature directors in the broadcast industry, as independent filmmakers and as artist filmmakers in academia and beyond. Studio 1 students have won the OneWorldMedia prize for the past 3 years, but have equally gone on to practice-based PhDs at prestigious art institutions. This is an opportunity to make work without concern for the market; to concentrate on film alone. We pride ourselves on expanding horizons, to help students become the filmmakers they want to be.
1 Louis D. Giannetti, Godard and Others: Essays on Film Form (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1975), 26.
2 Bill Nichols, Introduction to Documentary (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001), 116.
In Studio 2: Documentary for Broadcast and Beyond, students learn how to make a range of different styles of documentaries for both the small and large screen - broadcast, the internet and cinema – while also developing their own personal style of filmmaking.
The emphasis is on finding original character or issue-driven narratives about subjects that really matter, stories that filmmakers feel passionate about.
This course is designed to teach you the skills required to become a fully competent self-shooting director and editor, to make you as employable as possible, ready to film in any situation and equipped to make films from idea to completion.
You’ll learn how to develop, research, direct, shoot and edit documentary films based on ideas that you feel passionate about and issues in the world that matter. You’ll also learn interviewing techniques, how to write attention-grabbing film proposals and how to pitch your ideas to a panel.
You’ll be taught by three tutors, all industry professionals specialising in Cinematography, Editing (Premiere Pro) and Producing/Directing, each with vast experience in making professional documentaries.
Most weeks there’ll be additional masterclasses by leading documentary filmmakers, workshops specialising in specific additional skills and film screenings of seminal documentaries.
You don’t need any prior experience in camerawork or editing, but you must have an enquiring and critical mind, ideas of films you want to make and excellent English so that you can participate in the MA fully. This is an intensive, but hugely rewarding, course that will give you all the skills needed to launch you on your documentary filmmaking career.
During the MA, you’ll make three 5-7 minute long films using the three different styles of filmmaking most used in the documentary industry, in preparation for making your longer graduate film:
Film 1: Observational
We begin by focusing on the Observational Documentary, the cornerstone of documentary filmmaking. You’ll be encouraged to observe the outside world and go out of your comfort zone to find interesting characters, good stories and strong narratives.
We’ll meet for two full days, twice a week. One day focusses on directing, production and camera skills, the other on editing, to learn the building blocks necessary to become confident filmmakers. Weekly exercises are set to make 90 second films focusing on different aspects of filmmaking, which are then individually appraised by your tutors and peers. There’ll be additional small seminars where you can discuss your ideas in detail with a tutor before and after your shoots.
Film 2: Reportage
The focus of the second film is Reportage, exploring issue-driven ideas that students feel films should be made about. You’ll investigate an issue that you care about, explore all sides of it to, construct a filmic argument and interview people who bring the issue to life.
We meet once a week with the weekly exercises and small seminar groups continuing. You have a choice in how to tell your stories: either through you own self-voiced narration, with commentary or with a reporter. You will be taught how to do all these styles. To make these films, you will learn interviewing techniques, how to direct an on-screen reporter and the art of writing narration.
Film 3: Archive
We then turn our attention to telling past-tense stories using archive and interview. Here, the focus is on researching and editing archive material, sub-titling, in-depth commentary writing, editing with music and more detailed post-production, such as colour correction and sound design.
At the end of the core course, you will be equipped to make your assessed graduate film (15-30 minutes long), on any subject and in any style, or combination of styles, you wish. You will be assigned a mentor, who is experienced in the filmmaking industry, to guide you through making this longer film.
Students on this MA are encouraged to attend the Open City Documentary Festival in September, as well as many other documentary events in the UK throughout the year.
Studio 2 is particularly well-suited to those hoping to work in broadcast documentaries after the MA, as can be seen from the high success rate of the recent alumni below in finding relevant work soon after graduating:
Shanu produced/directed her film ‘Forbidden Love’ commissioned for Channel 4’s Unreported World. She is currently developing a feature-length documentary film for Netflix with Grain Media, London.
On the strength of her first UCL film (Observational) shown at the London Short Film Festival and the Fringe Queer Film Fest, she was offered a job as Researcher for Channel 4’s ’24 Hours in A&E’ and then ITV’s ‘Long Lost Family’.
Has been working as a Researcher and Assistant Producer at various documentary production companies such as Rise Films and is now a Researcher at VICE.
Has worked as a Researcher for a Discovery series at Blink Films, London.
Has been a Self-Shooting Editor at Newsweek, Editor at Huff Post and is now employed as a Web Content Video Producer at the Science Museum in London.
Currently working as Production Co-ordinator and Archive Researcher at Rogan Productions in London. Recent credit: Stabbed: Britain's Knife Crime Crisis (BBC1)
Is employed as a Video Editor at Wildbrain, London.
Social Media & Video Editor at BrandStory Asia, Singapore
Has been working as a Researcher at Films of Record in London.
Studio 3: Cinematic Documentary Storytelling focuses on issue-based narrative documentary. We are looking for students who want to challenge the documentary form and find innovative ways to tell important stories that resonate with global audiences. Studio 3 draws inspiration mainly from contemporary documentary film and has a particular interest in the increased presence of the short form on many online platforms.
Over the past decade non-fiction content across all media has grown in popularity and smaller more affordable equipment has led to a huge increase of people taking up filmmaking. Our aim is to help you stand out from the crowd by offering you the tools to make cinematic films that reflect an understanding of the world around us.
You will learn the skills required to develop, pitch, direct, shoot and edit documentary content. It’s an opportunity to learn core technical skills and also explore your own voice as a filmmaker in a supportive and creative environment, with your peers and lecturers guiding you along the way.
During the first 6 months of the MA students will produce three 5-8 minute films, each a chance to try out a different approach to filmmaking. Alongside we have weekly exercises that will improve your technical abilities. Wednesday evenings are dedicated to documentary film screenings and every Thursday we host a Masterclass by an acclaimed documentary filmmaker. The screenings and the masterclasses are for students on all studios. The course culminates in students directing their graduation films, mentored by leading filmmakers. These films are 15 to 30 minutes in length and are free from any restrictions.
Joining this MA should not only be seen as an opportunity to develop your portfolio but also as a way to grow your own network as the people you meet along the way might be the ones you will be working with in years to come. Therefore you will be encouraged to attend Open City Documentary Festival screenings and engage with any documentary events across London.
See below an outline of the first three film-making projects, each designed to expand your film-making vocabulary and understanding of uniquely different approaches:
Term 1 begins with producing a short documentary story that takes place in the here and now; stories that are unfolding in front of your camera. For this short film we want you to explore your relationship with your camera and how you can use it to observe the world around you. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famously stated “action is character” and this is exactly what we want our students to learn from this assignment. This exercise forces you to embrace the observational skills that underlie many documentaries and serve as an invaluable foundation to the craft. Sit-down interviews, use of archive material, narration or music are not permitted.
Please see below two examples of this kind of film with different structures:
While the first film was all about observing character and place this exercise focuses on shaping a narrative through an inquiry led by the filmmaker. This is your opportunity to explore your own voice as a filmmaker and delve deeper into an issue that you are passionate about. You can either tackle a more personal story (e.g. your grandfather suffering from dementia) or investigate an issue that you feel passionate about ( e.g. a story investigating a specific queer subculture). During this period we will be learning the skills to conduct interviews; use narration; montage editing; how to construct a filmic argument for an issue based factual documentary and how to be a character in your own film.
In past decades many hybrid forms of documentary have emerged that blur the lines between documentary and fiction. For this final assignment we ask you to engage with these forms by telling a past tense story. Your challenge is to construct and creatively visualise a powerful narrative, and start to explore sound design. This exercise is about demonstrating your strengths as a director and thinking cinematically. Collaboration among students for these films is highly encouraged.
Currently in our second year, our alumni have so far gone on to work in the documentary film industry working mainly in research, production and shooting roles.
Alizée Jean Baptiste
Currently works as a line producer for the Economist Films.
On an internship at Cavendisch Pictures.
Recently released his latest film The Kingdom for the WWF.
Currently working as a freelance filmmaker and photographer and has previously published some of her work in The Times, Vice, The Guardian, Huck Magazine, Suitcase Magazine, Al Jazeera, Monocle, Smith Journal, BBC and more.
Led by a senior BBC immersive producer and a team of immersive technology experts, UCL 360 is UCL's unique non-fiction immersive storytelling lab. This pathway of the MA programme provides students with the foundations for work in immersive factual storytelling formats, focused around 360° and CG-based VR experiences.
All students will be given a grounding in immersive techniques for story-telling, film-making, spatial sound recording and post-production techniques. Students will have access to 360° filming rigs throughout the year and be introduced to a wide range of the latest relevant equipment.
Students will be trained by experts from across this emerging industry and will be at the heart of this new, fast-moving media sector. It is widely said that 'the dust will settle in the VR world in 2018' - by joining the course this year you will be part of the generation that shapes immersive factual for the future.
We will expect you to be agile, attentive to the latest innovations in the industry and to surprise us each week with new possibilities in this space.
• A core course provides practical training (see below for detailed description)
• Options will allow students to do further courses in interactive and experimental film theory and history, radio production and
storytelling in the first person. The course includes regular masterclasses with experts from across the industry.
• Credits taken within Anthropology or in other departments within our school will provide training in understanding and researching the social world
In addition to the core course, this pathway includes an historical overview of interactive media, research and interview techniques, how to construct an immersive narrative and the ethics and different styles of immersion. The course will also include writing and pitching project ideas for clients and introduce the market for immersive media on various platforms.
Students will also be involved in planning the VR days for Open City Documentary Festival 2018.
All students will use UCL's recording and computer-editing equipment, the extensive collections in film in UCL Libraries and the visual anthropology laboratory. We have three dedicated editing suites, one with forty iMacs and one with 22 PC stations.
UCL has long been a forerunner in immersive technologies with Mel Slater and Anthony Steed's groundbreaking research in this field at their laboratory in UCL Computer Science. Students will be expected to take advantage of various collaborative opportunities, including the monthly hosting at UCL of the Augmenting Reality Meetup (with Digital Jam).
Core Course Outline:
The course is designed to teach immersive camera, sound and editing skills in a context of enquiry into the social world. It will also provide students with a basic grounding in a game engine (probably Unity) to allow them to explore interactive and CG/VR based factual storytelling. It is delivered in eleven hours a week of lab practice in the first term and five hours per week in the second. As well as occasional seminars and tutorials in both terms, there are further screenings and masterclasses concentrated in term two. In total during the core course you will have 144 hours of contact with your tutors. The practical elements of the course are taught in paired sessions - the first being teacher-led and instruction-based. In the second, students' practical exercises are appraised, with the tutor providing individual guidance and feedback on your film practice.
Working in groups, students will spend a minimum of twelve hours each week completing camera, sound, editing, interactive and game engine exercises.
You will also be expected to do some additional reading and watching films. Over the course of the two terms you will spend a further 110 hours preparing, filming and editing assessed work that will also prepare you for your graduation film. A total of 600 hours learning is allocated to the core course (one third of all your marks for the MA) and the assessment will combine formative and marked work, building up a portfolio of work over the period October-April. You will be encouraged to use your own computer equipment to allow off-site working (using your personal Adobe CC account) and will need your own external hard drive, but you will use the departmental cameras, radio mics and associated kit, decks, editing suite and workstations.
In summary, the core course structure includes the following elements: Practical/technical issues in Documentary and Ethnographic practice; Equipment, insurance, nature of immersive film, filmic and digital methodology, technical handouts, field notes and Project Diary.
The Narratives in Non-Fiction studio is intended for students who want to engage creatively with documentary today – through their own work and through thinking about the work of other filmmakers and artists. Through practical exercises, dedicated screenings and guided discussions, Studio 5 will explore the progressive and hybrid nature of the documentary form. Excited by the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of documentary – the way the form straddles the worlds of cinema, contemporary art, anthropological research, and more – Studio 5 will point to the widening creative and professional opportunities for students to develop their practice.
At the heart of our studio is an exploration of the relationship between the filmmaker and the material she or he is filming. Our exercises and lessons will equip you with the technical knowledge to create non-fiction content. But more importantly the Studio will encourage the student to develop a more conceptual understanding of what it means to frame the world in front of your camera. Why am I driven to tell this story? What do I want to understand about my subject matter? How do I feel about what I’m filming, and how do sound and images convey that feeling? Questions like these – which we will explore and interrogate in class – should underpin the best documentary practice.
Studio 5 will provide training in the use of digital media. It will teach students to produce broadcast quality non-fiction and ethnographic films, giving graduates the skills to enable them to practice as self-shooting and editing non-fiction directors. By the end of the course students will have acquired full competence in operating digital recording devices, editing and delivering broadcast quality film.
Like the other studios in the MA Ethnographic and Documentary Film - Studio 5 consists of two learning modules. Firstly, Documentary and Ethnographic Film Practice (ANTH0111) is the core course of the MA. In this module you will learn through practice how to use the art of cinema to tell real life stories. Within the first six months of the course you will make 3 short documentary films that each focus on a unique issue that you are passionate about. This studio distinguishes itself by the way it defines each exercise.
Film 1: Portraiture
Structured around the theme of portraiture, Term 1 sees you produce a film that is a study of an individual. Close and sensitive observation of the world around you is fundamental to good portraiture, and we will encourage you to develop your observational skills through a series of exercises and seminars. Term 1 will equip you with the knowledge to film action in the ‘here and now’, introducing you to a tradition of ‘observational documentary’ that remains robust and healthy. We will encourage you to think about how to express experience cinematically: how do you turn real-life material into a cinematic ‘scene’, and what might this reveal about your subject? Sit-down, formal interview footage and use of music or narration is forbidden.
Film 2: Place
In documentary, as in other forms of cinema, place can be as strong a character as any human subject. For this second film you will make a film about a given location. Building on the observational techniques you developed for the first film, you will immerse yourself in a specific location; be inspired by and attentive to its particular atmosphere, its special history, the way the inhabitants or users interact with it; and reflect on the story you want to tell about it. Combining practical exercises with selected viewing material and discussion in class, we will explore how you construct a sense of place in cinema. Students will also be encouraged to explore more fully the expressive potential of the documentary form, thinking about how different formal devices – such as voiceover, duration, camera movement – can attach emotional significance to location. As well as developing your voice as a filmmaker, this project will also address the logistics of filming on location – questions of access and securing permission and so on.
Film 3: Poetry
For the first two films you will have gone out into the world in search of material to film and to edit. For your third film we will encourage you to take a more interior approach. You will make a film that will reach into your own experience or into a past event: this may be a memory, a feeling, a moment that has passed. How do you give filmic shape to these more abstract concerns? If your focus is on an event that has occurred, how do you make visible something that no longer exists? Through exercises and selected viewing, we will encourage you to explore uses of archive in documentary; and of object-led approaches that animate the past. Reflecting on the way filmmakers have explored the diary film and essay film forms, this project will be focussed on developing your voice as a filmmaker. Guiding this assignment is the conviction that documentary can be a complex, allusive and poetic vehicle for self-expression.
The year will culminate in the production of your graduation film, which forms the second compulsory module of the Contemporary Documentary Storytelling Studio (ANTH0112).
Every film that you make should be seen as an opportunity to explore your voice, develop your storytelling skills and push the boundaries of the medium. The initial three documentaries have a required length of 5 to 7 minutes, while the graduation film should be between 15 to 30 minutes. Throughout the year you will acquire a variety of skills (from producing to editing) that will allow you to tell stories in the most compelling way.
But joining this MA should not only be seen as an opportunity to develop your portfolio but also as a way to grow your own network as the people you meet along the way might be the ones you will be working with in years to come. Therefore you will be encouraged to attend Open City Documentary Festival screenings and engage with any documentary events across London.
Professor Michael Stewart, founding director of Open City Documentary Festival, is responsible for oversight of the programme design and management.
Leading the MA will be one Senior Tutor per group (normally 12-16 students) chosen from amongst the most skilled practitioners of this craft in the UK. The Senior Tutor will give master-classes each term to all the students who attend the film-preparation discussion in the spring term, and be involved in assessing second term work. Additional Senior Tutors are recruited for the mentoring of student graduation films through to completion from end of March till Mid September.
Each group will also be taught by a Course Tutor, drawn from a cohort of tutors, with many years of professional film experience. They provide much of the day-to-day assistance and hands-on training for all the students as well as delivering practical parts of the core course. Like all our staff we will expect the course leaders to move back and forth between professional and teaching work. There is also an Edit Tutor for each studio, assisting students with editing.
A series of masterclasses will also be held throughout the year involving filmmakers associated with Open City Docs School and our partner organisations.
Sandhya Suri (Senior Tutor)
Sandhya is a British-Indian writer/director based in London. A graduate in pure mathematics, she received a scholarship to study documentary at The National Film and Television School. Her feature documentary I For India premiered in the World Competition section of the Sundance Film Festival, screened at over 20 international festivals and garnered several awards before being released theatrically to critical acclaim in the UK and the U.S. In 2016 she was selected for both the Sundance Screenwriters' and Directors' Lab with her first fiction feature Santhosh. Sandhya's latest feature documentary Around India With a Movie Camera has just been released theatrically by the BFI, and she has recently completed her fiction short The Field, a Film London and Canal+ co-production produced by Thomas Bidegain and Balthazar de Ganay, which won the Short Cuts competition at TIFF 2018.
Richard Alwyn (Senior Tutor)
Richard joined the BBC in 1988 after several years teaching English at the Sorbonne University in Paris. He quickly became one of the most distinctive and distinguished documentary makers of his generation, making films for many of the BBC’s most prestigious strands as well as for Channel 4. Specialising in intimate portraits of ordinary people often caught at extraordinary moments in their lives, his films have been made and shown throughout the world. In 2006, he won Europe’s most highly coveted documentary award, the Prix Italia, for The Beslan Siege. In 2002 he made his first fiction film for the BBC, the BAFTA nominated Stopping Distance. He subsequently co-wrote the story of the Rwanda genocide feature film, Shooting Dogs, starring John Hurt. Recent documentary work includes two trilogies for BBC Four, Catholics and Cathedrals, and a film about the loss of the ability to use language, Speechless.
Dylan Howitt (Senior Tutor)
Dylan is a filmmaker with many years of experience telling compelling stories from all around the world. He’s directed, filmed and edited for: NETFLIX, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Sky, Discovery, NHK, RUV, British Museum, British Council, MacMillan Cancer Support, Christian Aid, Prince’s Trust, Media Trust, Undercurrents, DFID, Tate Media, and the Open University, amongst many others.. Out of Thin Air is his first feature film.
Dylan’s films tell stories both intimate and political. His career has taken him to remote corners of the globe. From recording the testimony of a death row survivor in Ohio, to following a ferry boatman in Buenos Aires. From running video workshops with kids living around Guatemala’s rubbish dumps to documenting Mozambican artists creating sculptures out of decommissioned guns. From capturing the life of one street in Amman to the work of a street photographer in Ecuador. His recent series for the BBC on contemporary ethics, Matters of Life and Death, was nominated for a BAFTA, as was the children’s series Rooted for Channel Five.
Lucy Sandys-Winsch (Course Tutor)
Lucy is a multi Award-nominated Documentary Film Director, Series Producer and Executive Producer, with a very strong track record across landmark documentary strands such as Channel 4's 'Cutting Edge' and BBC's 'Modern Times'. Having worked at the BBC and at numerous independent production companies, she has made observational documentaries, biographical, historical, scientific and reportage single films and series for all the major television channels. As well as having been nominated for Grierson's and BAFTAs, Lucy has been on judging juries for the Griersons, Student RTS Awards and the Sheffield Documentary Festival New Talent Pitch.
Lasse Johansson (Course Tutor)
Lasse 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.
Dieter Deswarte (Course Tutor)
Dieter is an award-winning documentary self-shooting filmmaker and editor based in London. His intimate approach leads to a low-intervention kind of filmmaking that captures human stories with sincerity, creativity and cinematic beauty. For several years now he has dedicated part of his practice to working with local and international charities and arts organisations, ranging from short documentaries on wildlife conservation projects in Zambia to short animations for research on disability-related bullying in the UK.
In the past two years he has been working with another charity where he led several collaborative filmmaking projects alongside a number of community groups. He worked with youth offenders, parents who had their children removed from their care, women who suffered domestic and sexual violence, and young people in care. His personal work has gained him awards and screenings at several festivals and galleries worldwide. His most recent film St Helena, An End to Isolation was broadcast on BBC News. He also teaches on the MA in Ethnographic & Documentary film at UCL, leading Studio 3: Cinematic Documentary Storytelling.
James Price (Course Tutor)
James has degrees in Fine Art (Newcastle) and Documentary Direction (National Film & TV School). His films have been shown on the BBC, Channel 4, and More4, in art exhibitions, film festivals and conferences worldwide.
Recent projects include Reading Pepys (KCL) an experimental history of Deptford's Pepys Estate exhibited in the Wellcome Trust’s Living With Buildings (2018-19); Conversations in the Archive: Hayward Gallery at 50 (Art Fund) a series of 5 films revisiting seminal exhibitions from the gallery’s history; 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) ongoing collaborations with writer Rachel Lichtenstein exploring place and identity in London and the Thames Estuary; and The Body Adorned (Horniman Museum) a multi-screen ethnography of London dress.
Other projects include What is Freedom? (Channel 4) a semi-serious attempt to find the freest person in the USA; A Piece of the Moon (Channel 4) an exploration of people who have 'bought' land on the Moon, and the businessman who made millions selling it to them. Price’s debut Channel 4 series, People In Order went on to win awards at festivals worldwide, and was, along with his profile of photographer Anders Petersen, selected for inclusion in the BFI national film and television archives. The first program in the series, Age, went to the top of the Viral Video Chart in January 2008, most likely due to Alanis Morissette saying she liked it!
James has also exhibited installations and photography in the UK and beyond. His installation and film, Conversation, an exploration of the hidden judgements we make of each other, has shown in the UK, at HotDocs in 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 expanded cinema artists, the Light Surgeons, with whom he developed his moving image practice from 1999 until embarking on his Masters at the NFTS.
Edward Lawrenson (Course Tutor)
Edward is a London-based filmmaker whose films have played at a number of festivals, including Sundance, BFI London Film Festival, True/False, Open City, Venice architecture biennale, and Cinéma du réel; and cinemas, including the Museum of the Moving Image in New York and London's ICA. His radio documentaries have played on BBC Radio 4. His 2018 film Uppland premiered at Ciména du réel, and went on to play at various international festivals including Open City Documentary Festival. His 2015 documentary Abandoned Goods (co-directed with Pia Borg) won the Golden Leopard for Best International Short at the Locarno Film Festival and he was included in Filmmaker Magazine's '25 New Faces of Independent Film' list, in 2015. It featured in a major exhibition by the Wellcome Trust in London in October 2016.
Bonnie Rae Brickman (Editing Tutor)
Bonnie 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, SF Frameline, LA Outfest, Athens International Film+Video Festival, BFI Flare and Fringe! Film Fest.
Ariadna Fatjo-Vilas (Editing Tutor)
Ariadna is a freelance editor with over 10 years experience. She works in the UK and internationally mainly on documentaries, fiction and artists films. Her films have played in festivals worldwide (including Berlinale, Sundance and Toronto) and some of the accolades that her films have received include an Oscar nomination (The Act of Killing), a BAFTA award and other three nominations (The Act of Killing, Yours Truly and The Last Regal Kingsize), the Ecumenical and Panorama Audience Award in Berlinale, three prizes at Tribeca (Una Noche), a Grierson Award nomination (Estate. A Reverie) and a British Animation Award. Ariadna's credits include many of the large T.V. channels in Europe and North America (like BBC, Sky Atlantic, Channel 4, PBS, Canal+, ARTE, RTE and MTV). Ariadna graduated from the National Film and Television School (NFTS) with an MA in editing in 2006. She's been nominated to the 2016 Jules Wright Prize for Female Creative Technicians. She has also long-term involvement in education, including most recently as Course Leader for Goldsmiths' MA in editing.
Michael Ho (Editing Tutor)
Michael studied editing at the NFTS in 2006. Since graduating cut short films, music videos, both short and long-form documentary for television, as well as working as an assistant editor in TV drama and feature films. He recently directed a short film about his father for BBC4 / BFI’s Listen to Britain series, From HK to MK.
Juan Soto (Editing Tutor)
Juan studied the MA Documentary Filmmaking at the International Film and Television School - EICTV in Cuba until 2010, with a focus on editing and in film archives. His collaborations as a film editor include works by artists such as John Akomfrah, Gideon Mendel and Juan delGado, amongst others, and on feature films such as The Dragon Defence(Natalia Santa, 2017), premiered at the Cannes Film Festival's Directors' Fortnight; In The Studio(Ana Salas, 2016), Best Feature Film at the Colombian Film Panorama in Paris; and The Man Who Always Did His Part(Orisel Castro and York Neudel, 2017). He has edited short and feature films, fiction, documentary and experimental films both in Latin America, Europe and the UK where he is currently based. In 2018, he took part on the FIAF Film Restoration Summer School at L'imagine Ritrovata in Bologna.
Dinah Lammiman (Senior Tutor, VR)
For many years Dinah was a senior broadcast journalist for BBC Radio and TV's Current Affairs Division, producing and presenting multiple documentaries. During her BBC years she was also closely involved with experimental interactive and digital initiatives at CBeebies. Latterly she's worked extensively in immersive media, specializing in binaural and other sound concepts for museum and visitor attractions (including the National Trust, the Royal Collection, Oslo's Fram Museum and SS Great Britain), alongside producing innovative mobile phone games and creating installations for VR/360 experiences.
Jayisha Patel (Senior Tutor, VR)
Jayisha is an award winning British filmmaker, who works at the intersection of cinematic film and VR. Her films (A Paradise, India’s Wushu Warriors, Notes to my Father VR, Circlehave premiered at festivals such as the Berlinale, Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, Locarno and New York Film Festival amongst others, and won various awards. Her works embody an intersectional female gaze and seek to give a platform to women of color fighting stereotypes, in bold and unconventional ways.
She is currently an artist in residence at Somerset House, where she is working on her latest immersive experience, After the Fire in collaboration with the Danish Film Institute’s Anidox Lab, The Mill and Prof Courtney Cogburn from Colombia University as well as on her debut feature, SUGAR.
Michael Stewart (Course Leader)
Founder of Open City Documentary Festival and MyStreet Films. He has worked on or produced ten documentaries for Granada (Disappearing World) and the BBC (Everyman, Timewatch).
Simon Chambers became a youth and community worker in a poor area of London for 14 years. He also worked on campaigns around AIDS and prostitution in the 1980s, and on multi-national corporations such as McDonalds, Shell and RioTinto. Simon trained as a documentary filmmaker at the National Film and Television School, and graduated in 2004, winning the Royal Television Society award for best European student documentary. He began his career with several Three Minute Wonders for Channel Four as well as charity videos in India. In 2006 he completed a fiction feature script, commissioned by Film Four and also shot and directed a one hour documentary Every Good Marriage Begins With Tears which screened on BBC Storyville and was bought by TV channels around the globe, winning a clutch of awards at film festivals. His 2009 documentary Cowboys in India has screened on Channel 4 True Stories strand, and his co-production Mario and Nini on Sky Channel.
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 Festival and 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.
Sophie Fiennes is a film director whose feature documentaries for theatrical exhibition include her collaborations with the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, (2006) and The Pervert's Guide to Ideology, (2012), her portrait of German artist Anselm Keifer, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, (2010) and her most recent film Grace Jones; Bloodlight and Bami, (2017), an observational odyssey into the world of the iconic singer and performer. This project came about following Fiennes first feature documentary Hoover Street Revival, (2001), about a Pentecostal church community in Los Angeles, and the sermons of its preacher, Bishop Noel Jones, brother of Grace Jones. Fiennes work for television includes her first short Lars from 1-10, about the Danish film director Lars Von Trier and his 'Dogme rules' film manifesto and arts documentaries, The Late Michael Clark, (2000), Because I Sing, (2001) VSPRS Show and Tell, (2005) and Liu Xiaodong Half Street, (2013). She also made a 5 minute fictional short First Row Orchestra, for the Arte's Hopper Vu Par, (2012). Fiennes' films have received international distribution and screened in festivals from Cannes official selection to Toronto and Sundance. She was awarded a NESTA fellowship in 2001, to develop her innovative approach to film, and the Arte France Cinema Award in 2008, at Rotterdam's Cinemart.
Grant Gee is a self-shooting filmmaker and occasional freelance director. His most recent film Innocence of Memories, with an 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. 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.
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 the first 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 was named as a Granta's Best of Young British Novelist.
Christopher Hird formed Dartmouth Films in 2008 to pioneer in the UK new ways of funding, making and distributing independent documentaries, especially supporting first time and emerging filmmakers. His credits as executive producer include The End of the Line (2009) which revealed the threat to the world's oceans from overfishing, Rachel Seifert's Cocaine Unwrapped (2010), which supported the move to rethink the West's attitude to the war on drugs and many films shown at Sheffield including The Flaw (2011), Fire in the Blood (2013), Still The Enemy Within (2014) and In The Shadow of War (2014) - the last two of which were partly financed by crowdfunding, as was The Divide (2015).
Dylan Howitt is a filmmaker with many years of experience telling compelling stories from all around the world. He’s directed, filmed and edited for: NETFLIX, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Sky, Discovery, NHK, RUV, British Museum, British Council, MacMillan Cancer Support, Christian Aid, Prince’s Trust, Media Trust, Undercurrents, DFID, Tate Media, and the Open University, amongst many others.. Out of Thin Air is his first feature film. Dylan’s films tell stories both intimate and political. His career has taken him to remote corners of the globe. From recording the testimony of a death row survivor in Ohio, to following a ferry boatman in Buenos Aires. From running video workshops with kids living around Guatemala’s rubbish dumps, to documenting Mozambican artists creating sculptures out of decommissioned guns. From capturing the life of one street in Amman to the work of a street photographer in Ecuador. His recent series for the BBC on contemporary ethics, Matters of Life and Death, was nominated for a BAFTA, as was the children’s series Rooted for Channel Five.
Kim Longinotto is a British documentary filmmaker, well known for making films that highlight the plight of female victims of oppression or discrimination. Longinotto has made more than 20 films, usually featuring inspiring women and girls at their core. Some of her films include Shinjuku Boys (1995), Divorce Iranian Style (1998) and Salma (2013). She has received a number of awards for her films over the years, including a BAFTA for her documentary Pink Saris (2010).
Riete Oorde has produced and directed a range of primetime, high profile and award winning documentaries for BBC 1 and 2, Channel 4 and The Discovery Channel. Her work includes Make Me a German, the BAFTA nominated, The Leader, The Driver and the Drivers Wife, directed by Nick Broomfield, the RTS and Grierson award winning Aileen Wuornos – The Selling of a Serial Killer, the RTS nominated Luton Actually and Who Do You Think You Are. She works across a range of genres including observational documentaries, current affairs, history, science, education, personal celebrity journeys and formatted entertainment.
Lucy Sandys-Winsch is a multi award-nominated Documentary Film Director, Series Producer and Executive Producer, with a very strong track record across landmark documentary strands such as Channel 4’s Cutting Edge and BBC’s Modern Times. Having worked at the BBC and at numerous independent production companies, she has made observational documentaries, biographical, historical, scientific and reportage single films and series for all the major television channels. As well as having been nominated for Griersons and BAFTAs, Lucy has been on judging juries for the Griersons, Student RTS Awards and the Sheffield Documentary Festival New Talent Pitch.
Jeff Silva is a filmmaker, teacher and film programmer originally from Boston. Jeff works across medias and genres but his work shares a kinship with traditions of experimental film and new modes of ethnographic documentary, exploring the quotidian aspects of his subjects lives, often over long spans of time. His most recently completed projects include Linefork (2016), Ivan & Ivana (2011), and Balkan Rhapsodies: 78 Measures of War (2008) have been exhibited at festivals, and museums internationally, including: MoMA's Documentary Fortnight, The Viennale, BAFICI, Visions du Réel, Valdivia, and Flahertiana. A long-time affiliate of the SEL (Sensory Ethnography Lab) at Harvard University, Jeff helped develop the curriculum and methodology of the program at its inception while a teaching fellow aside founder and director Lucien Castaing-Taylor. Jeff has also been programming documentary and experimental cinema for nearly two decades. In 2000 with Alla Kovgan, he co-founded BALAGAN, an the offbeat and alternative micro-cinema screening series in Boston that continues to present marginalized films to the community.
Vanessa Stockley studied Art at Brighton College of Technology and Anthropology at University College London. She directed the film Soldier Girl: On the Road to Afghanistan for Channel 4's First Cut, a documentary about women training to become officers at Sandhurst, which broadcast in March 2009. Her film The Genius and The Opera Singer screened at Hot Docs in 2017.
Eva Weber Originally from Germany, Eva Weber is a London-based director working in documentary and fiction. Eva has directed a number of multi-award-winning short documentaries, with international stories at their heart, from the reindeer herdsmen of Finland to the students of Guinea revising for exams bathed in the orange light of petrol stations, to a closer-at-home study of lonely crane operators. Her film The Solitary Life of Cranes was described as "one of the most absorbing documentaries of the year" by The Observer. Her documentary Black Out won Best Emerging UK Director Award for at the Open City Documentary Festival.
Sandhya Suri is 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.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.
Who should apply?
If you have a social science or arts and humanities background and wish to undertake training in ethnographic or documentary film production,
If you have a science background but wish to use film to research and investigate the social world and tell stories about it.
If you seek to develop expertise in the practice of factual, ethnographic and documentary filmmaking, rooted in an understanding of the social and aesthetic underpinnings of the creating of factual moving image will find a welcoming home in this programme.
We imagine that this course will attract a wide range of students with diverse interests.
Some of you will be aiming to use moving image as a tool of social research; others will hope to use film to communicate existing research ideas. All students, however, will be trained to use that unique capacity of film to take us deep into unfamiliar places and create new forms of engagement with the social world.
This MA will also work for people engaged in the broad world of media, who wish to take time out to develop their career in a new direction and to train in the unique combination of specialist skills (intellectual and technical) that a film program based in a university environment can offer.
You can apply here.
Normally an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a social science, arts, humanities or science discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.
Academically weaker applications will also be considered provided that they are supported by experience in visual arts or film-making. Applicants with prior technical knowledge of film-making are asked to send a video portfolio of up to 20' duration (Vimeo link recommended). Applicants without a video portfolio are asked to complete a photo essay for assessment. Please see below the guidelines on how to make a visual essay.
All shortlisted applicants will be asked to submit a proposal for a film or video project - to consist of no more than four sides of A4 paper, typed and double-spaced. This proposal should include an outline of what the film is about; the characters and other elements crucial to the narrative and an outline of the film structure/narrative. (You are not committed to the proposal for the final project.)
What can I do with this MA?
The course will offer you professional training that makes you directly employable in today's booming media labour market.
Career pathways may include
(1) visual anthropology and visual work in parallel social sciences;
(2) mass media - employing ethnographic and documentary skills and methodology to produce research and narratives of broad public interest;
(3) market research where companies like Ipsos Mori employ ethnography units that regularly use moving image as a part of their work;
(4) the many branches of industry where professional film production is an increasingly important part of communication, both internal to a company and externally to its potential customers;
(5) presentation and adaptation of form and content through new forms of distribution and exhibition, from broadcast through web distribution, and from the cinema to the social space.
- DOCUMENTARIES ... and how to make them by Andy Glynne.. Creative Essentials, 2008. 336 pages + DVD disk. (ISBN - 13: 978-1-904048 -80- 0)
- THE CORPOREAL IMAGE. FILM, ETNOGRAPHY, AND THE SENSES. by David MacDougall Princeton University Press, 2006. 312 pages. (ISBN 0-691-12156-7)
- FOR DOCUMENTARY: Twelve Essays By Dai Vaughan University California Press, 1990, 215 pages, (0-520-21695-4)
- DIGITAL FILM-MAKING By Mike Figgis Faber and Faber, 2007, (0-571-22625- 6)
- THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX OFFICE: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era, by Jon Reiss. 2009.
Further less practically oriented texts
- Documentary Film Reader, ed. Mark Cousins and Kevin MacDonald
- Rethinking Documentary, eds Thomas Austin and Wilma de Jong
- The Politics of Documentary, by Michael Chanan
- Issues in Contemporary Documentary, Jane Chapman
- The Essay Film, by Timothy Corrigan
- The Cinema of Me, ed. Alisa Lebow
- Killer Images, eds Joram Ten Brink and Joshua Oppenheimer
- The Personal Camera, by Laura Rascaroli
- Creating the Witness, by Leshu Torchin
We are training you for careers in:
- Mass media including broadcast, cinematic and web-based moving image
- Film and TV industry as camera operators, producers, directors, editors, researchers
- Academia - ethnographic research, visual media and culture
- Marketing and research
- Communication and other media
- Archives as well as cultural heritage organisations
There is strong evidence that the increasing demand for social and scientifically trained moving image specialists in the years ahead will continue if not accelerate (many of the graduates of our existing programmes now work in e.g. Ipsos Mori film unit and for the BBC). We do not intend to provide assessed internships within a one year MA since we don't think you will have time for them!
Last year, several part-scholarships were available. Awards of £3,500 were granted for the 2018/2019 academic year for EU and UK nationals for Studios 1,2,3 and 5; and £4,000 for Studio 4 (VR/AR). Arrangements for 2019/2020 will be announced soon. Each application will be means tested and if you would like to apply please contact Angela O'Reagan at firstname.lastname@example.org.