NFTS Leeds: Directing the Documentary: Online

Short course


Please note the amended course dates to those originally advertised.

The good news is that we live in a time when it's incredibly easy to just go out and shoot a documentary. The bad news is that most peoples' efforts are unwatchable and unsellable.

On this intensive 5 day course you will learn how to develop a documentary idea and turn it into a finished film that an audience will want to see.

The first part of each morning will be spent developing the participants' own documentary ideas. Then for the rest of each day the five aspects of directing a documentary will be explored. By the end of the course, you will be ready to go out and shoot your film.

Day 1 - Developing Your Idea
How you can discover if your idea is worth turning into a documentary film and ways to develop your idea into something an audience will happily pay money to see.

Day 2 - Interview Style & Technique
Who you decide to appear in your film and how you choose them. You will also look at great interview technique and five serious mistakes to avoid.

Day 3 - Camera, Lights & Style
How you translate your idea into the language of film; Do you want to make a serious subject funny or a light subject serious? And how to decide an appropriate camera and lighting style. You will also discover ways to reveal truth on camera.

Day 4 - Editing & Sound
Creating drama and emotion through editing; The best way to use sound and music to express your vision as a director

Day 5 - Sell Your Documentary
Getting your film made on all budgets and making sure it secures an audience. How to earn a living as a documentary filmmaker.

In order to participate in this course, please bring one or two of your own ideas which you will work on throughout the week.​

The course is led by Col Spector is an award-winning writer/director who started in non-fiction at the BBC and now also works in fiction: writing and directing feature films for the cinema. He also runs his own documentary consultancy business Col started at the BBC directing various short comedy dramas series. He then went on to direct a number of highly distinctive, critically acclaimed documentaries for Channel 4 and BBC including Just Enough Distance, Trouble At The House, Puccini Cappuccini, The Real Alan Clark, and The Lost Supper.

Previous course participants said: 

"I learned more over 3 sessions with Col than I did over my entire Documentary MA."
"The knowledge I have now can't be compared to any other course."
"Col's enthusiasm and experience was invaluable in helping to move my documentary development process forward."
"Within an hour of working with Col I felt a million times better, my ideas were transformed."

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Freelance Rate: £775
Corporate Rate: £1250


How to apply

Application deadline: Coming Soon