Learn the fine art of observational filmmaking, and the purity of story that the vérité style may evoke

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Some of the landmark documentaries have been in the genre of observational cinema or cinema vérité.  Even as many contemporary documentaries are hybrids incorporating different documentary styles, observational sequences often provide some of the most compelling dimensions in these films.

What does it mean to represent reality? To film the truth?  No filmmaking is “pure.” There is always a camera person who decides where to point the camera and when to turn on and off the recording.  And there are subjective choices made in editing. However, some approaches to filmmaking are more grounded in observing the world unfold in real time with little intervention from the filmmaker.  In this class, through screenings, case studies, and practice students will explore the building blocks that are the foundation of an observational documentary scene.  Emphasis is placed more on practice than theory. Understanding how to cover a scene will grow out of daily shooting in the field and editing. The class will be a mixture of assigned exercises and independent short projects.  

You are invited to bring a sample of previous work in any style to share with the class.

Image Credit: Devin Altobello, Peter Logue –  Header: Aidan Bliss

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Instructor: Allie Humenuk

Allie Humenuk is an award-winning filmmaker and Emmy-nominated cinematographer whose films have been broadcast nationally and internationally. Her most recent film, The Guys Next Door (co-director, co-producer, and cinematographer), had long and successful festival runs and aired on PBS. Her previous feature documentary, Shadow of the House (director, producer, and cinematographer), about the photographer Abelardo Morell, was heralded as “one of the best films ever made about an artist and the artistic process” by Bo Smith, former curator of the film program at the MFA Boston. Her first film, Love Knots, was shot on 16mm film and was nominated for a student Academy Award. Allie was nominated for an Emmy for her camera work on the PBS series Design Squad. Her other cinematography and camera credits include programs for HBO, BBC, PBS, National Geographic, MTV, and ESPN. She has taught film and video production at Harvard University, Massachusetts College of Art and the Maine Media Workshops. Currently, Allie freelances as a director and cinematographer.