Guided by an Emmy award-winning Producer and documentary journalist, examine the dynamics of creating, shaping and producing an effective documentary.

Jun 17, 2024 - Jun 21, 2024

Levels: Beginner, Intermediate,
Workshop Fee: $1395
Workshop Duration: 1-week (Monday-Friday)
Workshop Location: On-campus
Class Size: 12

Amanda Pisetzner on location, crouched with camera
Instructor Amanda Pisetzner on location.

Think of your favorite documentaries. Can you tell what they have in common? More than likely, their magic is folded into the fabric of their story. Whether making a short-form or long-form documentary, great filmmakers know that story is the backbone of gripping non-fiction projects. In this five-day workshop, we examine, prepare, and practice the fundamentals of documentary development and production, promoting the ways those great ideas come alive on screen (on time, and under budget). 

Amanda Pisetzner has won Emmys for her work on Vice News Tonight
Instructor Amanda Pisetzner has won Emmys for her work on Vice News Tonight.

Knowing how to develop, shape and focus that story is vital to success. From generating story inspiration, selecting organizing principles and identifying narrative arcs, to location scouting, field producing and camera work, releases and permitting, documentary production is a rich marriage of logistical and creative feats. Only by leveraging both can effective filmmakers produce stories that inspire, move, and bring ideas to life. 

We’ll examine documentary genres and styles as you consider where your idea best lives and what makes your project unique. You’ll explore story structure, learn how to shape acts, research and identify sources and characters, prepare for and conduct interviews, leverage third party footage and other sound-sources, and weave everything together in service of both art and impact.

Amanda Pisetzner on location, OTS
Amanda Pisetzner on location.

Whether you intend to shoot the documentary on your own or engage a crew, we’ll consider the practical dynamics of production, budgeting, clearances, and much more. Leave the week with a real world view of how to launch and make your documentary.

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Instructor: Amanda Pisetzner

Amanda Pisetzner is an Emmy-award winning Producer, Emmy-nominated writer, and documentary storyteller. She has worked on series and specials for Showtime, HBO, NBC, The Discovery Channel, and others, both domestically and abroad. Amanda has developed, researched, field-produced, directed, story produced, and/or written both hosted and unhosted projects. These span from singular, character-driven profiles to complex, interwoven historical documentary features. She currently works as a Supervising Producer for the Emmy-Award winning series, VICE on Showtime.

Amanda's work is motivated by her desire to bridge communities and cultivate empathy in an increasingly divided world. By centering characters’ stories and helping cultivate safe spaces for authentic interviews, Amanda appreciates documentary work for its magic: its capacity to foster deeper understanding, its ability to provide novel perspectives on shared human experiences, and its potential to inspire action. She also experiences joy and gratitude for work that encourages her to continuously learn more about the world and its people. Her favorite stories are ones that embody the complexities and nuances of people, their motivations for living, and the resilience of the human spirit.