Short courses


Making the Move into Directing for Television

  • 8 hours
  • 8 evenings (7pm to 8pm) - over 8 weeks


This online evening course is for assistant producers looking to make the move into directing, or new filmmakers looking to gain the knowhow and knowledge needed for making documentary films for broadcast and online.

You'll learn practical tools such as how to present yourself and your ideas, how to think like a director, shooting for the edit and the importance of story.

It's led by Katie Buchanan, an RTS Broadcast and Grierson winning Executive Producer with over 25 years' experience.

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

Course content

Session 1

CV workshop: how to make your CV work for you. You'll explore how to structure your CV and present your experience so it speaks to what broadcasters are looking for.

Session 2

Pitching your own idea. You’ll examine what makes a successful pitch and how to write treatments that jump off the page.

Session 3

Finding contributors and building relationships. You'll learn how to persuade people to be in your film and about the psychology behind maintaining relationships - from street-casting to negotiating access to institutions.

Session 4

What happens in your film? What's your story? What do you want viewers to think and feel? You’ll explore different methods of building narrative in documentaries.

Session 5 

The director’s eye. Being clear about your approach. Is this an authored film? How is it shot? What effects are you hoping to convey and how do you achieve them? You’ll analyse examples, what approaches do people like and what don’t they like?

Session 6

Shooting for the edit. You’ll learn how to plan a shoot. You'll be asked to share a piece of footage you've shot on your phone and the group will explore what has worked and what you could have done differently.

Session 7 

Storytelling in the edit. Knowing how to produce a story in the edit is key. You'll break down films into constituent parts (how many stories, what length of time does each story take up, how long does each scene last) to understand how you might approach your edits.

Session 8

Troubleshooting. Every film runs into trouble at some point or other and the edit is where these problems come home to roost. You’ll analyse some real examples and explore what the director might have done to get themselves out of a tricky place.

Course structure and teaching

This course will be delivered via online distance learning. You'll need to have your own computer or other internet-connected device. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please get in contact with Ripley Parker (ripley@opencitylondon.com). 

Sessions will be held online on Thursday evenings, from 7pm to 8pm, over 8 weeks.

You'll also be expected to complete tasks in between sessions.

Course team

Katie Buchanan

Katie Buchanan

Throughout a 25 year career in television Katie has worked to the highest editorial standards, producing one-off documentaries, documentary series and social experiments, often with complex access, compliance and duty of care requirements. Her programmes have won numerous awards including Broadcast, RTS and Grierson Awards and she's worked extensively with emerging directors including being the executive producer for nine First Cuts for C4 and mentoring and promoting young female directors.

Course information last modified: 29 Oct 2021, 10:32