DOCUMENTARY FILM-MAKING

Year Program: September 8, 2017 - May 26, 2018

Spring Semester Program 2017: January 6 - May 26, 2017

Fall Semester Program 2017: September 8- December 22, 2017

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PROGRAM IN BRIEF

The Documentary Film Program at Prague Film School aims at creating the independent documentary filmmaker and emphasizes the single most important aspect of documentary filmmaking: storytelling. Through intensive practical and theoretical work, each student at PFS develops his/her voice as a documentary storyteller. This includes learning how to adapt the narrative tools of drama to tell truthful stories about the real world that simultaneously entertain, educate and inspire audiences.

The course is designed to develop professional-level production and post production skills and orient the student to the landscape of the documentary profession.

Students in the documentary program are immersed in an extremely rigorous production program shooting documentary pieces weekly. They also experience producing films in a non English, non native-language country, a reality many documentary filmmakers face at some point in their career. Living in Prague, students also get to experience one of the world’s most beautiful and film-friendly capitals located in the heart of Europe.

In addition to treating a host of local historical, social and cultural subjects, PFS documentary students have capitalized on their position in Europe to shoot such varied topics as the refugee crises in Lesbos to surfing sub-cultures in France

Students completing the Prague Film School program have been uniquely successful in launching their careers (Caitlin Burke, We Could Be King – Emmy 2015; Anne Lunde, The Russian Woodpecker – Sundance Grand Jury Award, 2015). Production-based but academically rigorous, Prague Film School programs are approved for university credit by many top tier colleges, including Vassar, Bowdoin, Oberlin, Sarah Lawrence, Bard, Barnard, Northwestern, to name a few.

FIRST SEMESTER - DOCUMENTARY

In the first semester Documentary Production course, students complete numerous shooting assignments designed to develop critical skills in documentary film language, camera technique and editing. Lectures, demonstrations, screenings, and analytical exercises provide the foundation for the fieldwork.

Topics covered include:

- Documentary camera and coverage techniques
- Interviewing techniques
- Standard production practices
- Using sound and sound design to tell a story
- Documentary themes and genres
- Documentary story structure and analysis
- Researching a topic
- Documentary Ethics
- Authorship/Voice in Documentary

By crewing on each others’ assignments, students gain extensive skills in directing, producing, shooting, and recording sound. Rigorous critiques are a vital component of the course. In addition to these exercises, each student produces and directs a 7-minute documentary short film on a subject of their choice. Students also crew on eachothers projects.

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Specialized courses in Editing and Cinematography are the other key components of the program. Students learn to edit on Avid Composer 8.4 and learn shooting and lighting theory across a range of formats, including Blackmagic URSA & Pocket cameras, RED, and Canon 5D. By studying and practicing narrative as well as documentary shooting techniques, students gain an advanced fluency in the language of film.

Supplementing the practical component of the course, students attend screenings and watch online videos to grasp documentary filmmaking as an evolving medium, currently being reinvented by filmmakers who use cinematography, sound, music, editing, graphics, animation, and distribution platforms in new and innovative ways, which in turn changes the medium and leads to unique storytelling. These screenings will draw upon a rich pool of international documentaries, both past and present, which cross themes and genres. These examples will in turn help students find their own unique voice, as documentary filmmakers.

SECOND SEMESTER - DOCUMENTARY

In Advanced Documentary Production, students focus on in-depth development and pre-production of their diploma films. This includes completing weekly assignments for instructors and peer review and learning to research and write a compelling proposal and treatment. By the end of the semester, each student will have both produced and directed their own diploma film -- a 15-minute documentary -- and crewed on their classmates’ projects. Through extensive brainstorming and pitching sessions, students also leave the course armed with a portfolio of critiqued project ideas to further develop and make a reality after completion of the program.

This course is complemented by the Documentary Workshop, a practical course in which students further develop their technical skills through weekly shooting and editing exercises. Topics covered may include: Advanced Interview Techniques, Documentary Reenactments, Archival Research, Portrait of a Person or Place, Music for Documentary, and various Cinema Vérité-style shooting scenarios.

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Special seminars in the field of documentary film business are also offered. International guest speakers are invited to Prague to lecture on:

• Legal Matters
• Budgetting
• Funding - Crowd Funding, Co-Production and Other
• Film Festivals
• Sales and Distribution

The most important component of the second semester and indeed the entire year documentary course is the diploma film - which should be of broadcast quality.

CONGRATULATIONS TO PFS STUDENTS


CANNES 2016
Simon Vahlne gets latest film Fight on a Swedish Beach in the Official Selection of Cannes Festival 2016 Short Film Competition


Venice Film Festival - Biennale de Venezia 2016
Giovanni Fumu's latest film accepted for the Official Selection of Biennale de Venezia 2016 Film Competition


Beijing Independent Film Festival 2016
Ran Li wins "Best Fiction Film Prize" at the prestigious Beijing Independent Film Festival with her graduation film Lucie


LOCARNO 2015
Raam Reddy (2012) - director - and Doron Tempert (2012) - DOP - win both Best Feature Film and Best Debut Feature at Locarno Film Festival 2015 for Thithi


CANNES 2015
Ziya Demirel (2011 - 2012) gets latest film Tuesday in the Official Selection of Cannes Festival 2015 Short Film Competition


EMMY 2015
Caitlin Burke (Fall 2006) wins Emmy for 2014 documentary We Could Be King


SUNDANCE 2015
Anne Svejgard Lund (Spring 2011) receives 2015 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for work on acclaimed documentary Russian Woodpecker

SUMMER WORKSHOPS 2016

June / July / August 2016

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