Short courses


Documentary Storytelling

  • Wednesday evenings (6.30pm to 9pm)
  • 6 weeks


This online 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.

It runs over six Wednesdays, from 6:30pm to 9pm.

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 participatory documentary
  • Other types of participation

Session 4

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

Session 5

  • 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

Course team

Dr Catalin Brylla

Dr Catalin Brylla

Catalin is Principal Lecturer in Film and Television at Bournemouth University. He has 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.

He’s editing two books, Documentary and Dis/ability (with Helen Hughes) and Cognitive Theory in Documentary Film Studies (with Mette Kramer). As a practice-led researcher, he’s just completed two feature documentaries about blindness and the everyday, and another feature documentary, Zanzibar Soccer Dreams (with Florence Ayisi), about Muslim women playing football.

Course information last modified: 8 Dec 2022, 21:26