Explore the exciting and growing world of the documentary!

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Image Credit: Devin Altobello

This 2-Week workshop is for teen filmmakers looking to immerse themselves in the process of nonfiction filmmaking.  Documentaries take us on all kinds of journeys. They can profile a person, examine a subject or topic, effect social change, and afford a platform for personal expression. And mockumentaries can be wildly entertaining.

In the first week we will dig into the art form, screen contemporary films, discuss and analyze them. Through discussions and group exercises, students will learn the essential skill sets involved in documentary production. Finding the story, identifying characters, setting up and conducting interviews, shooting approaches, and the editing process will all be covered. Students become familiar with professional filmmaking equipment, including cinema cameras, lights, audio gear, and editing software. They will learn and practice the various crew roles in a production, rotate and work collaboratively in those roles to problem-solve and achieve a common goal.

In week two the class will break into groups and each group will produce and shoot a short documentary piece. Students are encouraged to explore subjects that are meaningful to them, with the potential for social relevance and impact. We will discuss the nuances of telling different types of stories and approaches to different kinds of subject matter, as well as ethical issues surrounding the process. Students will put into practice the skills and approaches learned in week one and go out into the field.

At the end of the workshop, the class will present their pieces.  The final projects will be portfolio-ready and excellent for applying to college. This course will provide students with an exceptional foundation and a terrific head start to take their first steps towards a career in documentary filmmaking!

Notable past students include Luke Lorentzen whose 2019 film “Midnight Family” played at over 100 festivals, was short-listed for an Oscar nomination, and won the Special Jury Award for Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival. 

“Maine Media is where I made my first documentary. It was a life changing week of intense and focused work with an incredible group of mentors and fellow budding filmmakers.“  – Luke Lorentzen


Past Student Work:

Created by Sylvie Moran, Young Documentary Filmmakers, 2020

About the Academy Programs: 

All Academy students must be fully vaccinated for COVID at least 14 days prior to arrival.  A copy of the vaccine card must be submitted to [email protected]

Student days are comprised of both classroom and field/location work: lectures and critiques, demonstrations, shooting, editing, writing, computer workflow and/or digital lab work, depending on the workshop. All instructors are talented industry professionals as well as experienced educators, and each works with a teaching assistant, providing additional support for their class. The students are busy all day and into the mid-evening hours.

All students reside in our Campus Residence, occupying the lower floor.  Rooms are all private bath with a maximum of three students per room (most will be doubles). Resident Advisors (RAs) also reside on the same floor to monitor and supervise.   The upper floor is occupied by non-Academy adult workshop attendees who will have little exposure or direct interaction with the Academy students. 

During the week, all meals are taken together in the dining facilities directly across the street. Weekend meals are taken in the local economy and transported by the RA’s – or sometimes do cookouts. This cost is included in the tuition package. Parents may indicate any special dietary needs upon registration. 

RAs supervise the students when not in class and help make group decisions about weekend activities which may include swimming, bowling, movies, and hiking. Coin laundry facilities are available on campus.

A lobster dinner is served (there are other choices) on the last Friday night of each workshop, and all MMW+C students gather for an evening presentation of highlights from the week’s work. Parents are welcome to attend, and meal tickets may be purchased in the Registration Office.  

We recommend students have access to $150 over the two-week period for incidentals, snacks, movies, field trips etc.

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Instructor: Mel Salmi

Mel Salmi is a Finnish-American director, producer, and editor. She studied film production in Helsinki where she worked extensively as a producer in both narrative and documentary film. Her award-winning work has been seen at festivals around the world. In 2019, she earned an Emmy nomination for a short documentary she directed for the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the co-founder of Maine-based video production agency MEDIA LOMA and she also leads March Ensemble, an online art project that has produced over 300 art pieces since its inception.