Short courses


Documentary Storytelling

  • 15 hours
  • 6 evenings (6:30pm to 9pm), over 6 weeks
  • 25 Sep 2019


This six-session evening course focuses on the art of storytelling in documentary film.

Each session will include discussions of how theoretical concepts relate to formal considerations in documentary filmmaking - keeping the balance between the theory of practice and the theory in practice.

It runs over six Wednesdays, 6:30pm to 9pm, and is delivered using classroom-based interactive lectures.

This course is run by the Open City Docs School, based in UCL's Department of Anthropology.

Who it's for

This course is for:

  • documentary practitioners who are either preparing, shooting or editing their documentary
  • scholars who want to analyse or write about documentaries
  • anyone who is passionate about non-fiction films

There are no pre-requisites required to apply for this course.

Course content

The following content is an example of what will be covered, but is only indicative.

Session 1

  • Documentary elements
  • Soviet montage and conceptual watching
  • The poetic documentary 

Session 2

  • Spatial and emotional impact of shot sizes
  • The immersive actuality of continuity
  • The observational documentary

Session 3

  • Character profiling through interviews
  • The function of cutaways
  • The interactive documentary
  • Participatory documentary formats

Session 4

  • Brecht and defamiliarising the audience
  • The reflexive documentary
  • The hybrid documentary

Session 5

  • Memory, identity and rhetoric through the archive
  • The expository documentary
  • Narrative structure: story and plot
  • Narrative point-of-view and subjectivity

Session 6

  • Documentary comedy and distantiation
  • Parody and reflexivity
  • The mockumentary
  • The investigative documentary comedy

Cost and concessions

This course fees are:

  • £180 - full price
  • £160 - students
  • £150 - UCL students

Course team

Dr Catalin Brylla

Dr Catalin Brylla

Catalin is a Senior Lecturer in Film at the University of West London and holds a doctorate in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths, University of London. His research aims for a pragmatic understanding of documentary spectatorship with regards to experience, empathy and narrative comprehension. In a larger context, this work also advocates for the filmmaker’s understanding of how audio-visual and narrative representation impacts on society’s understanding of stereotyped groups, such as disabled people, women and African cultures.

Course information last modified: 9 Sep 2019, 13:58