Short courses


Summer Film School (Documentary Filmmaking)

  • 180 hours
  • 6 weeks


This intensive, six-week course will give you the practical, critical and theoretical skills you need to make a short documentary film. It's led by acclaimed documentary maker Katharine Round.

Over six weeks, you'll make a 5 to 10 minute self-shot documentary from start to finish. You'll have access to broadcast-quality equipment and editing software to help you do this.

You'll be encouraged and supported to discover and express your own response to the world around you. You'll explore authorship, form, character, emotion, and much more.

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

Course content and structure

In the first three weeks you'll develop your technical and analytical skills. Through a series of a practical exercises you'll learn how to produce, direct, shoot and edit.

You'll also explore the art of filmmaking and attend a series of guest lectures.

Over the next three weeks you'll focus on completing your film. You'll have access to equipment and edit suites at Open City Documentary School.

You'll be supported in making your film through two one-on-one meetings with the course tutors. These can be in person or remotely via Skype.

A screening will be held in the last week of the course, where you'll be able to share your rough cut. A second screening on the last day of the course will give you the opportunity to share your work on the big screen.

Who this course is for

The course is suitable for:

  • beginners with no formal filmmaking training
  • those who want to expand their skills and learn about the self-shooting mode
  • those want to brush up on their filmmaking skills

Please note that you will be required to bring two external hard-drives with you on the course.

Course team

Katharine Round

Katharine Round

Katharine Round makes creative documentaries for broadcast & cinema exploring the essence of being human with warmth and humour. Her work is variously described as "tender and evocative" and “poignant and viscerally enraging”.

In 2016, she directed and produced the critically-acclaimed The Divide which had a successful theatrical release across the UK, followed by a US/UK release on Netflix. In 2017, she produced London Symphony, nominated for the Michael Powell Award at Edinburgh International Film Festival before a successful UK theatrical release including 3 special event performances with a live orchestra supported by Arts Council England, and a VOD release on BFI Player. She is currently working on a trilogy of films with support from EU MEDIA.

She has made films for the BBC and Channel 4, exhibited at leading international film festivals (including Sheffield Doc/Fest, IDFA ,CPH: DOX & Cork Film Festival), in galleries (the Serpentine, the Barbican Centre, V&A) and at the European Parliament in Brussels. Alongside Open City, Katharine has been a guest tutor and speaker at Sheffield Doc/Fest, BAFTA, Royal Holloway and the Roundhouse, amongst others. She is the co-founder of documentary filmmakers organisation Doc Heads, supporting documentary through curated events and screenings, with a focus on independent artistic work.

Learner reviews

"If I learned one thing then that it is a long way from a topic to an engaging film – the tutors provide you with everything you need to take on this challenge, and to create your best possible film and experience!" [Regine Brandtner, Summer Film School 2019]

"This course is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It was an immersive, challenging and enlivening experience. Katharine encouraged (and pushed!) me to make a film I never imagined I’d have either the technical skills or courage to make. The deeply personal process of making it – and watching the heartfelt films my peers made – gave me a new perspectives on filmmaking and on life itself. If it’s not already obvious, I can’t recommend this course highly enough." [Amy Ryles, Summer Film School 2018]

"The UCL Summer School helped me understand in depth how documentaries are made and think like a documentary filmmaker. The course was really great, the teaching was outstanding and the friendships I made long lasting. This six weeks program felt like a mini MA in documentary filmmaking. I gained lots of confidence, it kick-started my freelance career and now I’m collaborating on a short documentary with a fellow student that I met in the course. I cannot recommend this program highly enough as it’s a life changing experience." [Anthony Barlos, Summer Film School 2018]

Course information last modified: 11 May 2023, 17:27