Our credits tell the story.

Factual

It is no surprise that documentary production is a core part of ShortCourses calendar – this is, after all, the school that trained both Molly Dineen and Nick Broomfield.

We offer a number of courses to help the documentary and factual programme maker realise their ambitions. Our emphasis is on craft – taught by practising professionals.

Factual COURSES

Next Course dates:
25 May, 2017 to 26 May, 2017

Got a great idea, but don’t know what to do with it? This course will help you develop your idea so that it can be pitched to a broadcaster or other funder.

Covering:

THE MARKET PLACE FOR DOCUMENTARIES
AND FACTUAL PROGRAMMES

Broadcasters and financing structures
Co-productions
Umbrella deals and working with large independents

DEVELOPING
Constructing successful treatments
Research - planning, implementation - how far do you go?
Thinking of multiplatform
Where to pitch and how to pitch

THE PITCH
Presentation skills - making the most of your personality and character when selling your project(s)

In order to make the course most beneficial please come armed with a couple of your own ideas that you can work on throughout the 2 days!

  • Number of places:
    12
  • Freelance Rate:
    £325
  • Length: 2 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £550
Next Course dates:
26 June, 2017 to 30 June, 2017

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 5 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 check whether 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 5 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 make the course most beneficial please come armed with a couple of your own ideas that you can work on throughout the week!
"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."

  • Number of places:
    15
  • Freelance Rate:
    £745
  • Length: 5 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £1375
Next Course dates:
12 June, 2017 to 16 June, 2017

This course provides a thorough overview of how to production manage a factual or documentary series, and provides those attending with an introduction to the principles and practices of the work involved.


The course will cover, amongst other things:

  • The role, function and responsibilities of the Production Manager
  • Basic scheduling, budgeting and cashflows
  • Union agreements
  • Music and archive copyright clearances
  • Insurance; Employment law, Health and Safety
  • Location Management; travelling abroad
  • Technical knowledge and understanding
  • Post-production
  • Defending your budget to a Programme Finance Manager
  • Preparing cost reports and Progress Reports
  • Delivery of programmes - administratively and technically
  • Managing the production and its personnel

 

  • Number of places:
    12
  • Freelance Rate:
    £795
  • Length: 5 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £1450
Next Course dates:
8 May, 2017 to 13 May, 2017

This extremely popular course is designed for established self-shooters who wish to become more proficient in a variety of documentary shooting situations. It also aims to provide a solid grounding in the technical requirements for different media platforms, including broadcast and online.
 
Participants will learn how to shoot for the edit in different factual styles, including formal and unscripted interviews, uncontrollable action and dialogue, and general views.
 
Through a series of practical exercises in differing styles, participants will learn how to frame and operate the camera both handheld and on the tripod, record good quality sound and shoot sequences. Participants will edit some of these exercises, which will be reviewed on the final afternoon with feedback from the tutors.
 
Theoretical aspects will be included, such as shooting terminology, crossing the line, interviewing technique, observational theory, storytelling and legal issues, but participants should expect a lot of practice shooting and editing time during the course.
 
This course will cover:
- formal & informal interviews
- uncontrollable action & dialogue
- general views
- tripod & handheld operating
- composition, shot sizes, eyelines & screen direction
- exposure control and white balance techniques
- focus control including depth of field
- recording quality sound
- shooting for the edit & editing a sequence
- file formats & platform requirements

 
Participants will review exercises with the tutor and will be given individual feedback frequently!
 
Obviously cameras will be made available to course participants. However, participants' own cameras may also be used, provided that they are compatible with the course requirements. Many of the skills learnt on this course can be applied to any camera or shooting format.
 
Comments from past courses include:
"Fantastic course - couldn't recommend it enough"  "I never thought I could have learnt this much from a course" "I'm coming away from this course, educated, equipped, enabled and inspired"
 

  • Number of places:
    8
  • Freelance Rate:
    £885
  • Length: 6 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £1600
Next Course dates:
10 September, 2014 to 12 September, 2014

Do you want to take your camera skills to the next level?

This is a new course designed for self-shooters who wish to develop their visual style in a variety of documentary shooting situations.

Participants will learn how to break down a story visually, prepare their visual ideas before the start of a shoot and realise them during the documentary filming process.

Through a series of theoretical and practical exercises, participants will learn how to use various cinematography tools in interviews, general views and uncontrollable action situations.

As well as the theoretical discussions and exercises, this course will cover:

  • composition & framing
  • positioning
  • exposure
  • background
  • lenses
  • palette & mood
  • camera movement
  • using natural light
  • building a sequence visually
  • developing a distinctive style

Participants will review exercises with the tutor and will be given individual feedback frequently!

Cameras are available for all course participants. However, participants' own cameras may also be used, provided that they are compatible with the course requirements. Skills learnt on this course can be applied to any camera or shooting format.

  • Number of places:
    8
  • Freelance Rate:
    £450
  • Length: 3 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £750
Next Course dates:
26 September, 2016 to 27 September, 2016

This course is for those working in television or drama production who want to learn how to produce their first broadcast programme or independent documentary.  It  will provide researchers, AP’s, independent film makers and people involved in drama with a solid overview of all aspects of producing.   
 
The course starts with what makes an idea stand out from the crowd and how to develop a factual idea.  This will be discussed in the context of existing treatments, taster tapes and completed films.  Then follows a detailed discussion of budgeting, legal considerations and international sales.

Areas will include:
• The role of the producer, director and production team
• What makes an idea good, how to pitch the treatment and taster tapes
• How to find where an idea fits into the market
• Scheduling and budgeting
• Legal, including: contracts, copyright, health and safety
• Post Production
• Marketing, sales agents and distributers

  • Number of places:
    12
  • Freelance Rate:
    £335
  • Length: 2 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £550
Next Course dates:
6 January, 2014 to 10 January, 2014

This five-day course is aimed at documentary filmmakers who want to move into drama.

During the course participants will learn how documentary differs from drama, how to work with actors (through practical exercises), how to direct dramatic sequences and direct a short drama script.

Course Aims & Objectives:
To familiarise participants with principles of drama
To gain an understanding oh how to work with actors
To understand 'cinematic' language

By the end of the course participants will be able to:
Understand and be able to block scenes
Direct dramatic sequences
Understand the key differences between directing documentaries and drama

  • Number of places:
    6
  • Freelance Rate:
    £1250
  • Length: 5 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £2500
Next Course dates:
11 May, 2017 to 12 May, 2017

Coming up with amazing ideas is one of the hardest things in television. If you’re lucky, it could make you millions. If you’re not, the rejection letters will make you cry into your cornflakes. So how do you come up with the killer idea across the various genres? Is ideas generation a science or an art?

This course will help those who want to want to work full-time in development as well as those for whom ideas generations is an important part of their job, whether it’s as a researcher, producer or director.

Where do ideas come from?

  • Science or Art?
  • The 5 stages of development
  • A brief history of successful TV formats and ideas and how they came about
  • Lateral thinking: what exercises can I do to unlock my creativity?
  • Understanding the commissioning brief
  • Ideas generation across specific genres: documentary, specialist factual, factual entertainment and drama

Day 1: Seminar based with practical group exercises on how ideas are generated.

Day 2: Applying the knowledge from Day I to particular genres. This is a day of practical exercises and lateral thinking.

Tutored by Narinder Minhas an award-winning programme maker, operating across a range of genres: documentary, specialist factual, drama and factual entertainment. Trained by the BBC, he spent eight years as a producer/director on Panorama, The Money Programme and The Big Idea (with Andrew Marr). Since then, he’s been a commissioning editor at Channel 4 and he’s also worked for some of the best indies in Britain, including Diverse Production as Director of Programmes.

He’s an ideas generator with hundreds of hours of commissions from the world’s most prestigious broadcasters, such as the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Discovery. He’s also executive produced many films, including The Girl With 7 Mums, India’s Supersize Kids, 4thought.tv, 14 Alone (Cutting Edge), The Real Michael Caine, White Tribe, Snowdon and Margaret: Inside a Royal Marriage, Gigolos (Cutting Edge) and The Truth About Gay Animals.

  • Number of places:
    10
  • Freelance Rate:
    £375
  • Length: 2 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £700
Next Course dates:
4 May, 2017 to 5 May, 2017

This course is currently full - but do not despair - places often become available!  Email us to be added to the Reserve List

Our highly practical sellout “Introduction to Self Shooting” course is aimed at those who are new to self-shooting, and are looking to develop, embed and hone their skills.

This 2 day course will cover all of the essentials for budding self-shooters, giving you the skills and hands on experience to start filming with confidence.  Many of the skills learnt on this course can be applied to any camera or shooting format.  With a mix of theory and practical exercises the course will provide a solid grounding in the skills you need to get shooting.

This course will cover:

  • Camera menu, set up
  • Tripod and handheld operating
  • Composition
  • Exposure control and white balance techniques
  • Focus control including depth of field
  • Recording sound
  • Controlled/Uncontrollable action
  • Management of CF cards and media

Through a series of practical exercises participants will learn how to frame and operate the camera both handheld and on the tripod, record good quality sound and shoot sequences. Participants will review exercises with the tutor and will be given individual feedback

  • Number of places:
    8
  • Freelance Rate:
    £450
  • Length: 2 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £800
Next Course dates:
3 September, 2014 to 5 September, 2014

As filmmakers we have a privileged job, it allows us to see and experience things, that most people can only dream of…

It can take us to a whole variety of amazing and interesting places, far from the well-known tourist traps… It puts us in contact with people that you would never normally meet

One day, we could be filming a lost tribe in a remote part of Borneo, and the next week working in the Canadian arctic

However, there is a darker side… 2007 saw the death of 118 media professionals from camera crews to producers all of which were working in production from news, documentaries to feature films

Once you have thought of the story, cameras, audio and lighting gear you may have time to pause and think… “what are we getting ourselves into”?

The course’s objective is to train Film & TV crews (also journalists) in safe and effective foreign location work by examining theoretical and practical training in the following:

  • Manmade and political problems from kidnapping, corrupt officials and piracy
  • Working strategies for polar, jungle, sea, mountain and desert environments
  • Natural events and disaster management including working in poverty or humanitarian aid zones

Then providing various practical safety and survival techniques, if things do go wrong…

  • The psychology of survival
  • Survival and rescue strategies
  • Evacuation 

As well as an understanding of :-

  • Medical awareness from frostbite to altitude sickness
  • Research, planning and safety equipment
  • Insurances (medivac)
  • Fixers
  • Permissions
  • Light aircraft & Helicopters
  • Off road driving
  • Small sea crafts
  • Road transport considerations

This course is run by filmmakers for filmmakers and uses firsthand field experience in over 130 counties

  • Number of places:
    12
  • Freelance Rate:
    £495
  • Length: 3 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £995
Next Course dates:
12 September, 2016 to 16 September, 2016

This extremely popular and unique course is aimed at self-shooters who wish to become more proficient in their observational shooting.

Participants will learn the principles of observational filming, the technical essentials in camera and sound and will also do a series of exercises to learn how to shoot good coverage in both action and dialogue scenes. They will spend a day and a half shooting and editing a 2-5 minute observational sequence. This will reviewed on the final afternoon with feedback from the tutors.

Other theoretical and practical issues such as film language, legal concerns, ‘crossing the line’, composition and tripod shooting will be included – but participants should expect a lot of practice shooting time during the course.

This course will cover:
- principles of observational filming
- filming in scenes
- getting good coverage in scenes
- smooth camera operating
- exposure control and white balance techniques
- focus control including depth of field
- sound recording when self-shooting in an observational style
- shooting for an observational edit
- editing an observational sequence

 
Participants will review exercises with the tutor and will be given individual feedback frequently!

For some of the course exercises we encourage you to find subjects and locations in the local area yourself on the day as this is an important aspect of documentary filmmaking; but we do offer advice and support at all times and provide a list of suggested locations.

Cameras are available for all course participants. However, participants' own cameras may also be used, provided that they are compatible with the course requirements. The skills learnt on this course can be applied to any camera or shooting format.

**When completing the goals section of the online application, please include a short sentence outlining your understanding of the term ‘observational filming’.**

  • Number of places:
    8
  • Freelance Rate:
    £750
  • Length: 5 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £1400
Next Course dates:
16 May, 2016 to 20 May, 2016

Led by award-winning Director/SP Livia Russell this brilliant course looks at the processes involved in producing television documentaries and factual programmes. Participants will discuss how to present their ideas and who to target and will look at the various deals available for financing and how to best negotiate these.

Areas covered will include:

  • The market place
  • The role of the independent producer
  • Research and development
  • Pitching, selling and packaging your idea
  • Budgets and cost control
  • Effective scheduling
  • Insurance; Health and Safety
  • Copyright and legal issues (content, compliance, libel and defamation)
  • Staffing your production and keeping control of it!
  • Co-production deals

All course contributors are working professionals who are specialists in their own area.

  • Number of places:
    12
  • Freelance Rate:
    £725
  • Length: 5 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £1300
Next Course dates:
18 April, 2015 to 22 April, 2015

This is a popular course is aimed at self-shooters, and programme makers who need to be in line with today's HD production environment.
 
The DVX200 is the new workhorse in, and because it looms at the affordable end of the market, it has been championed by independent production companies. As a result of popular demand, it has become an essential tool for the budding HD shooter.
 
This course will cover:
• Review of camera menus, formats, and understanding the DVX200
• Exposure and focusing techniques
• Control of white balance, depth of field,
• Operating skills: composition, tripod work, handheld techniques
• Shooting for the edit, coverage and interviewing techniques
• Lighting and sound sessions
• Management of CF cards and media.
• Adequate practical exercises accompanying theoretical sessions.
 

This course will have a heavy emphasis on practical exercises with footage review and tutor feedback, and although it is an in-depth look at the DVX200, a great majority of skills are also transferrable to other cameras.

  • Number of places:
    8
  • Freelance Rate:
    £725
  • Length: 5 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £1400
Next Course dates:
19 September, 2016 to 21 September, 2016

Do you want to make your interviews look and sound better? Do you want your interviews to tell a better story?
This is a practical course designed for self-shooters who wish to develop their knowledge of filming interviews in a variety of styles.
Participants will learn how to shoot formal interviews on the tripod, as well as informal interviews with a handheld camera. The course will cover a range of locations and shooting situations for all types of factual filmmaking, and will include lighting a formal interview using film lights as well as natural light.
Interviewing technique will be covered such as asking questions but participants should expect a lot of practice time during the course.
This course will cover:

- selecting a location
- foreground & background
- composing & framing
- lenses & shot sizes
- working with natural light
- health & safety with lights
- 3 point lighting
- recording & monitoring sound
- informal & dialogue interviews
- cutaways & additional footage

 
Participants will review exercises with the tutor and will be given individual feedback frequently!
 

 
Cameras are available for all course participants. However, participants' own cameras may also be used, provided that they are compatible with the course requirements. Skills learnt on this course can be applied to any camera or shooting format.
 
Please note this is NOT a lighting course.

  • Number of places:
    8
  • Freelance Rate:
    £450
  • Length: 3 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £750
Next Course dates:
10 January, 2015 to 11 January, 2015

A killer taster tape can help you nail a commission, but a dud one can jinx a great idea. If you are looking for the inside track on what makes a good sizzle reel great, and how to avoid school boy errors – this is the course for you. This course will help ensure that whatever the genre, you always cut a stand-out taster.

This course is geared towards content makers who want to gain an insight and understanding into how to create taster tapes that can effectively sell and promote their creative ideas, and will be delivered by Alexis Price, Head of Development at Renegade Pictures. Alexis began her career as a newspaper journalist for the Manchester Evening News Group before moving to the BBC in 2007 as part of their Factual Entertainment Development Team. While at the BBC she developed a broad array of shows ranging from formats to one-off docs including BBC2’s The Speaker, Axe the Agent for BBC1 and When Beauty Goes Wrong and The Last Millionaire for BBC3.  She’s worked in development teams of major indies, including Tiger Aspect and Mentorn, and joined Renegade Pictures in 2010. While at Renegade she's devised formats and documentaries including Barely Legal Drivers (BBC3), Date My Porn Star (C4) and Secrets Of The Sales (BBC1).

What makes a great taster?

  • The golden rules for good (and bad) taster cutting.
  • Formats vs. Documentary – what works best for each genre?
  • How to fix a failing taster.
  • How to gather the material you need.
  • How to make sure a format remains clear in the film.
  • How to sell when you've got no chance to shoot; the art of using pre-existing footage in a fresh way.

Day 1: Seminar based with practical group exercises, day 1 will focus on the golden rules for producing tasters

Day 2: Is largely practical with our lead tutor and editor.  Participants will have the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice. They will compete in teams in a timed task, and will script and cut a sizzle to fulfil a brief.

  • Number of places:
    10
  • Freelance Rate:
    £365
  • Length: 2 days
  • Corporate Rate:
    £725
Next Course dates:
31 December, 2017

"In such a short time Col will set you free as a filmmaker not just to make a film but to make an extraordinary film that will command an audience." (Sarah Gayton)

Col Spector, course tutor for Directing The Documentary, has taught documentary directing to over a 1000 people and has frequently been asked to help his students with their documentary ideas and first edits that aren’t working, and so set up a documentary consultancy service. 

The NFTS offers Col's bespoke one-to-one Documentary Surgery where you can get help if your documentary idea isn’t quite cutting it. Col is dedicated to documentary directors making films that emotionally engage with their intended audience.

The Documentary Surgery is available throughout the year and can be booked by the hour at £100 for the first hour followed by £75 for each additional hour. They take place in person in central London, or on Skype.

"Col Spector is the most patient consultant I have ever experienced. He is the consummate educator in the truest sense of the word. He has that rare gift of being able to draw out what his students already know subconsciously."  (Mary Anstey)

"Col has truly helped me to make my dream project into a reality! His honest communication, which is crammed full of industry knowledge and experience, has guided me towards making a bold beautiful and deeply moving documentary." (Jacinta Powell)

"Massively insightful creating lightbulb moments that will affect my work every day. Invaluable." (Simon Gee)

"Within 4 hours you helped me cut through the complexity; focus on the important and interesting; identify suitable mechanisms to tell the story well and build a structure that works, and perhaps most importantly, this new structure will now connect this documentary with a wider audience than the narrow audience this topic first assumes. A great investment, thank you so much." (Morag Livingstone)

Let The Documentary Surgery help - please contact us directly on shortcourses@nfts.co.uk or give us a call on 01494 677903 before making an online application, so we can provide you with a quote and timescale!

  • Number of places:
  • Freelance Rate:
    £100
  • Length: 1 day
  • Corporate Rate:
    £100