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writing : development of a documentary project

This practical and theoretical workshop clearly brings to the foreground the issues of documentary filmmaking. Taking into account the specificity of film writing, the project is given shape and structure to ready its presentation to potential production partners, funding commissions and institutions.

5 sessions from May to December 2017, 6 weeks discontinuously (210 hours), in Paris, France

There are no readymade recipes to hand out (writing and production of each project are unique) nor « ready to shoot » film presentation dossiers. But going through this process helps keep up the necessary distance and heightens awareness about all the different stages of project elaboration. A film, traditionally considered through its « subject » finds its originality and its specificity when it meets a sublimating « narrative form » : the most essential, authentic, relevant one.

Length : 6 weeks (210 hours), divided into 5 sessions, at the rhythm of one session per month from May to December 2016 : 29/05 to 09/06 ; 17/07 to 21/07 ; 11/09 to 15/09 ; 23/10 to 27/10 ; 18/12 to 22/12

Public : people having written and directed one or several documentaries, whatever the context and production conditions.

Number of trainees : 10

Tutors : two experimented tutor-filmmakers follow the projects throughout workshop duration, and guest professionals participate periodically ( film historians, directors, producers, etc…)


Teaching method :
Each unit is made up of practical shooting or editing exercises, theoretical content, film analysis and supervision of the writing of individual projects.
The theoretical training course is held by professional directors, documentary film historians or critics.
The projects in the process of being written are read and analysed by several categories of professionals (directors, editors, producers, broadcasters, festival organizers), known for their proficiency of experience.
Between each session, the trainees are asked to furnish a certain amount of work, the guidelines of which are given at the end of each session.

Session 1 : Deconstruction of the writing process (2 weeks)
Goals : To describe and deconstruct the writing process of a film, to recce and analyse the different stages of work. Alongside the shooting exercises, participants work to the understanding of documentary cinema by viewing segments of films and discovering varied writing styles. Master-class : analysis of writing process and the making of a film, in presence of its director. Project writing : branching out from everyone’s future projects, we try to bring out the intentions. From that point on we define the recceeing, the fields of research to continue working on or new ones to explore.

Session 2 : Stating the issues (finding the film’s gravity centre”)
Goals : To unfold the realm of possibilities, to redefine the film’s axis, to bring out the main intention. Practical exercise : finding the “strong point”, crystallization (metaphor or metonymy) lying at the film’s core and to shoot a short sequence outlining the film’s intentions. Theoretical lecture : the viewer’s position. Project writing : collective discussions focused on projects.

Session 3 : Finding How (“ methods of action, paths of thought”)
Goals : To reflect about directing choices. Practical exercises : the trainees treat the same sequence or situation in different manners. To take a thematic journey through the history of documentary to discover, on a same subject, different suggestions and directing options. Trainees analyse segments of films they’ve chosen related to their own project. Writing up draft of a personal project : collective discussion over written projects.

Session 4 : Film narrative (editing/dramatic writing)
Goals : Combining sense of analysis and practical exercises during the editing period, participants bring depth to their film’s dramatic treatment. A theoretical lecture presents the narrative forms in editing. A practical exercise based on working with rushes consists of reordering or reediting sequences. To write a personal project : produce a readable shareable draft, get ready to write the final version.

Session 5 : Adequacy of form and subject (“Shape is depth that floats up to the top”)
Goals : to have evaluated the project’s degree of accomplishment by professionals (directors, producers, broadcasters.)

Admission requirements : on an individual documentary film project (3 pages maximum), at the writing or development stage, to be developed during this workshop and if possible a dvd with a former project.
Cost : 6300 Euros VAT exclusive, (7560 Euros VAT inclusive).
Funding :
Candidates may apply for a CIF- a vocational training leave (count 4 months for application processing) and receive funding from private or public institutions. here are a few examples : AFDAS, AFDAS, MEDIAFOR, FONGECIF, AUVICOM, UNIFORMATION, FAF.TT.

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