Sharpen your filmmaking technique

The rise of documentary film is evidenced by its increased presence in film festivals, theaters, broadcast outlets, and on the web.

This one week master class is designed for filmmakers and advanced students who want to take their filmmaking to a higher level with the mentoring of a veteran of the non-narrated, but always narrative, documentary film. Although students are required to bring their own work (and lap-top editing systems) this is not a software class; it is about shaping and improving works-in-progress. The class will include conceptualization, confidence, storytelling (scripted and non-scripted), journalism, ethics, interviewing as relationship, the use of music, re-enactment (caution!), filmmaking-by-ear and group as well as one-on-one sessions to advance individual ideas or projects. The instructor’s and other documentarians’ work will be incorporated in the week's exploration and analysis. By week’s end, the students will have sharpened their understanding of documentary filmmaking, re-evaluated and improved their own projects, and enriched their palette of tips and guidelines used by a master in the field of documentary filmmaking.

This class size is limited to allow for an emphasis of one on one work between the student and instructor. Students registering for this Master Class should have at least one completed documentary film or one work-in-progress with dailies available to show. Students will be asked to submit samples of their work before the class convenes.


DeWitt Sage

DeWitt SageDeWitt Sage is an award- winning documentary filmmaker and a screenwriter who has produced, written and directed films on a remarkable range of subjects since 1968.

Winter Dreams, a PBS American Masters documentary about F. Scott Fitzgerald, which won the Peabody Award “. . . for chronicling the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of America’s greatest novelists, in images and ideas as lyrical and inventive as Fitzgerald’s prose.”

His documentary, A Place for Madness, a film about the fragile intersection of severe mental illness and the law, was nominated for the 1995 Robert Kennedy Journalism Award and Broken Minds, about the treatment and mistreatment of schizophrenia, was cited by the New York Times for setting a network benchmark with its provocative exploration of social policy through moving human story. Both films were produced for PBS’s series Frontline.

Sage’s theatrical feature, Distant Harmony (1988), a portrait of opera star Luciano Pavarotti's trip to China, was honored by the Chicago, Toronto, and Sundance Film Festivals and his screenplay, Pinto, about the criminal prosecution of the Ford Motor Company, was written for Warner Brothers in 1986.

Earlier in his career Sage co-produced, wrote and directed, with filmmaker Julian Krainin, Oceans: the Silent Crisis, with Jacques-Yves Cousteau, for ABC News; Princeton: A Search for Answers, which won the Academy Award for best short documentary in 1974; Art Is. . . with Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, and members of the New York City Ballet, (Academy Award nomination). Sage’s CBS Movie of the Week with Alan Arkin won the Chicago Film Festival as best television feature and the San Francisco Film Festival as Best Documentary film.

Sage’s films or their broadcast series (The Brain, PBS) have been honored with most of the major broadcast journalism and film awards including the George Foster Peabody Award, the DuPont Columbia, major production grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities (for American Masters' Hemingway and Fitzgerald films), and the Academy Award. He has recently completed a screenplay adaptation of Jeannette Haien’s novel, The All of It and his script for Ernest Hemingway, Rivers to the Sea was nominated for the 2006 Emmy.

Sage is a member of the Academy’s Documentary-Feature branch.

Course Dates

Sep 18 to Sep 24




Class Size