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This course will teach you to create professional-looking short films so you can take your documentary visual storytelling work to a new level and offer clients a whole new way to tell their stories.  The secret sauce of the class is not teaching you a whole new language, but to build on the essentials you have learned as a photographer- telling a story, looking for decisive moments, composing your shots, and sequencing the components for maximum impact.  Using any camera from a DSLR or Mirrorless to a smart phone, you will  learn new skills – capturing video clips, the use of sound, editing with modern software and how to use these tools to tell compelling stories. 

© 2020 David Helfer Wells

Why learn video?  The digital revolution has fired a demand for video in story-telling at the same time that traditional outlets for still photography have decreased.  Masses of publication, web-sites, organizations and individuals now look for (and pay for) short, quality-made videos.  Modern equipment and high powered software allows a photographer to do the work by themselves, without a large crew.  Being able to create compelling videos is a definite ”value add” for any photographer.  And it’s really fun to do.

Each student will spend the week planning, filming and editing a short (2-3 minute) film.  You should have basic camera handling and image organizing/computer skills.  Using a combination of lectures, film screenings, hands-on training including video editing apps, and exercises, students will learn:

  • How to use their camera to shoot high quality video and what settings work best;
  • What microphone to use and how to capture good sound;
  • Strategies for planning your shoots, then capturing the various audio and video clips that you will need to tell your story;
  • How to conduct on-camera interviews, both in terms of your equipment and your technique; 
  • Sorting and labelling your different video clips in preparation for editing;
  • The basics of using editing software to construct the film for maximum impact;
  • How, in collaboration with the other students, to evaluate your rough cut and revise it into a final product;
  • As time permits, we’ll talk about some other techniques, like time-lapses, and ideas for marketing your video knowledge.

By the end of the week, you will have the know-how to create short films of your own and, with practice, begin using good video and audio in your own work. 




All images © David H. Wells

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Instructor: David H. Wells

David Helfer Wells is a filmmaker and photographer who divides his time between Providence, Rhode Island and Bangalore, India. One day you can find him creating still and moving images for clients, such as Edible Rhody and the Providence Preservation Society on the unique local culture of America’s smallest state. Other days he may be working on personal/grant funded projects on the beautiful Narragansett Bay with the support of Rhode Island’s Council for Humanities and State Council on the Arts.  In India’s "Silicon City” Bangalore, he is busy creating visual narratives for clients such as Bryn Mawr College and Aramco World or working on personal/grant funded projects supported by the Fulbright and Alicia Patterson Foundations. He has worked on assignment for such magazines as Fortune, Life, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Sunday New York Times, and Time, among others. One editor described him as a “…specialist in intercultural communication and visual narratives that excel in their creative mastery of light, shadow and sound, stills and video.” Many of his short films have been juried into film festivals around the globe, including Ankara, Bangalore, Jaipur, Lahore, Lisbon, Mumbai, New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, Rome, Sacramento and San Francisco.