The market for short nonfiction stories has grown exponentially, propelled by leading news outlets as a way to reach wider and younger audiences.  The New York Times Op-Docs, Retro Report, The Washington Post Video, The Guardian, CNN, are just some of the larger platforms running compelling stories online authored by independent journalists and documentary filmmakers. These filmmakers find and supply stories from far corners of the globe – from the major conflict zones to their own backyard.

These large media organizations are always looking for content, submitted independently or commissioned. The sure way to get accepted is to submit stories that are unique, original, and captivating, distinct from the repetitious headline stories of the day.

The workshop will being by screening a wide variety of these stories to form a strong sense of the variety of styles and subjects, and to become familiar with the style, pacing, dynamic points and successes. The running time of these stories ranges from 90 seconds to 20 minutes. This reportorial work in nonfiction video is a fresh way for the established media to break into the cross-platform market for short-form documentary filmmakers using both documentary principles and standard journalism practices.

Each student will develop an idea for such a genre, research it, make a virtual production plan, write a short proposal and treatment, determine its most appropriate market, and pitch it for distribution and sale. Critiquing of your work will be an integral outcome of the workshop in service of the overall objective to understand the process, the genre, and adapt your skills to producing this form of work. For ideas with a local focus, time may be dedicated to production and editing of your short piece within the week.

Some hands-on technical demonstrations may be used for practice interviewing and b-roll exercises.


Mimi Edmunds

Mimi Edmunds, (MFA Committee) B.A. in the Humanities, University of California, Berkeley; M.A. in Anthropology & International Education, Columbia University; PhD candidate, ABD, University of Connecticut, Storrs; has worked in non-fiction storytelling for three decades. As a broadcast journalist with CBS for 15 years, including eleven at 60 Minutes, and at CBS's documentary unit, she then worked at PBS, the Discovery Network, in Maryland, Washington, and Arizona. Her films have won Emmy nominations and Cable awards. She currently works on independent productions. She has taught at the Workshops every summer since 1986, including workshops in Oaxaca, Mexico and Havana, Cuba. Several of her films have won awards for cinematography and production. She also wrote and produced for PBS' newsmagazine ARIZONA ILLUSTRATED from 1999 until 2002. With an educational background in visual anthropology, she has also taught documentary filmmaking and broadcast journalism at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.  Currently Mimi is teaching as Adjunct Professor in Journalism at Emerson College in Boston.                                     


Course Dates

Aug 20 to Aug 26



Class Size