Cuba holds a special fascination for the American visual artist. A mere 90 miles from Florida, travel restrictions have created a world apart. This Maine Media offering has followed the appropriate US and Cuban channels to offer an extraordinary educational experience. See Cuba through a documentary lens. We will record the sights, sounds and characters of the colonial town of Gibara. We will take a story idea through each phase of production to final cut. At the end of our stay, our documentary short will premiere in one of Cuba’s leading film festivals.
The workshop is collaboration with the International Film Festival of Gibara. This week-long celebration of film brings documentarians from around the world to this small Caribbean town. We arrive the week prior. We identify a story and work as a single production crew to structure and shoot the documentary idea. By week’s end the town’s film festivities are underway and we move to the edit room. Students will have time to devote both to the editing process and to attending documentary screenings.
This is experiential learning. We hone our craft by doing under the direction of an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Students use their own cameras and laptops. A DSLR or mirrorless is a good camera choice because of its size, relative low-cost and superior image quality. A limited selection of cameras is available for rent. But the idea is to become skilled on one’s own camera whether it be a professional camcorder or simple smart phone. Students will learn the basics of editing using Adobe’s Premiere Pro as they “pull selects” and participate in assembling the program. A talented Cuban editor from the local television station assists us.
This is our third year offering the Cuban workshop and our welcome there has been open-hearted. We give back to the local community through a full-scholarship and meals awarded to at least one English-speaking Cuban student. This cultural exchange is important for a deeper understanding of each other’s worlds. For many Cubans, this is the first time interacting with Americans. For Americans, their fellow Cuban student is an invaluable aid in maneuvering the local terrain and Spanish language.
Students will leave Cuba with a full overview of the documentary process and an exotic video to add to their portfolio. They will gain an insight into the current state of documentaries through festival screenings and possiblee encounters with the filmmakers. And above all, this workshop is an opportunity to experience firsthand a welcoming culture that has remained off-limits to Americans for close to six decades.
What is included: In addition to daily instruction in documentary production and post, the workshop includes:
Full Room and Board, (excluding beverages)
A full pass to the International Film Festival of Gibara
Cuban cultural visa fee
Round trip transportation from Holguin airport to Gibara via taxi
Planned excursions, including a boat trip to the beach, an elective visit to a cave, and a class in Cuban Salsa.
Students should budget money for incidental expenses such as tips, beverages, gifts of Cuban rum and cigars, etc.
Travel by Americans to Cuba is limited to one of twelve possible licenses. This trip is licensed under article 515.567 which allows for workshops and public performances. No action is necessary on the part of the student.
Cuba will issue a tourist visa upon entry into the country. Shooting video in Cuba, however, requires a cultural visa. This comes with our official participation in the Gibara International Film Festival. No travel vaccines are necessary. It is strongly advised that students purchase travel insurance. The water in Gibara is safe to drink.
Flights: Airfare and international travel arrangements are not included. Students arrange for their own travel between their home port and the international airport in Holguin. Agreements between the US and Cuba have opened way for the major commercial airlines to offer Cuban destinations for the first time in six decades. Miami is the main transfer point, but currently five airports throughout the US offer direct flights to Cuba. Flights from Canada and Mexico have existed for years and usually the fares are lower.
Students will be met by a taxi for the 40 minute ride to Gibara (taxi fee included).
Accommodations: Room and board is part of the package deal of the workshop. Students will stay at a “Casa Particulares,” a Cuban home-stay, which is the best way to experience Cuban hospitality and be a part of the community. These are comfortable, single rooms with private bathrooms. A hearty breakfast is served at the homestay. Lunch and dinner are enjoyed at restaurants around town. Gibara is a fishing community. The catch of the day is always fresh.
Safety: Among the achievements of Cuba’s communist government is safety on both a personal and property level. Gibara has the added benefit of being a small town with small town kindness. Though one shouldn’t test it, it is possible to leave a camera unattended in a public space and not lose it.
Tuition note: At the time of registration, a deposit of $600 will be taken, along with the $55 registration/application fee
For more information please feel free to contact Tom through the webpage: www.Cinewright.com
Above: Student work produced in previous workshop.
Terms and Conditions for Travel Workshops
1. Reservations & Payments
A deposit as indicated on the registration page is required to confirm your reservation for the workshop. Final payment in full is due 45 days prior to the start date of your workshop unless stated differently in the course description.. Maine Media Workshops + College (“Maine Media”) reserves the right to cancel a reservation if full payment has not been received by the due date.
All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars; all payments must be made in U.S. dollars.
It is strongly advised that you purchase Trip Cancellation, Baggage, Emergency Medical Evacuation, and/or Accident and Sickness Insurance Protection. Camera equipment, computers, and baggage are carried entirely at the owner’s risk. Maine Media shall have no responsibility for any lost, damaged, or delayed property, or for an individual student’s medical needs, accidents, injuries or illnesses. You can find our recommendations for travel insurance here.
5. Itinerary Changes
The itinerary for your workshop is subject to change without prior notification.
6. Passports and Visas
A valid passport is required for all international travel. You are required to notify Maine Media as to the nationality under which your passport is registered. Participants are responsible for obtaining their passports and visas. To participate in the workshop, you must have a passport that is valid until at least six months after the date on which your trip is scheduled to be completed.
7. Medical Issues
All participants must be in good health. You must advise Maine Media of any health condition, physical condition, or emotional or mental condition that may require special attention or that may adversely impact the other participants in your workshop. All students are required to complete a “Waiver of Liability” form and submit it at the time of registration. This document may be found on the course description page.
8. Liability Waiver
Every participant is required to sign Maine Media’s Waiver of Liability before departure for their workshop. Click here to download.
9. Responsibility & Photography
To ensure a safe experience, you are required to obey local customs and be considerate when photographing people or sensitive locations. The faculty member for your workshop has the right to expel any person from the workshop for behavior that is in violation of the law; that is disruptive; or that compromises the group’s safety or enjoyment. No refunds will be made to any person expelled from a workshop. Maine Media shall have no obligation to pay any costs incurred by a person as a result of that person being expelled from a workshop.
Header Image Credit: Tom Donohue
Instructor: Tom Donohue
Tom Donohue is an EMMY-nominated filmmaker with 30 years experience in filmmaking including creating broadcast documentaries for such clients as National Geographic Television, The Discovery Channel, and PBS. His assignments have taken him from the war-torn streets of Afghanistan to Central American rainforests in search of jaguars. Tom’s approach to filmmaking is holistic: He produces, shoots, writes and edits his own films. Not only does this method provide an intimacy with the subject, but each step of the filmmaking process informs and compliments the others.
Tom founded Cinewright Workshops to explore world cultures while learning documentary filmmaking techniques. Tom led MMW's first video workshop to Cuba since the normalizing of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The workshop's resulting film has been invited to premiere at The CinePobre International Film Festival in Cuba. Tom splits his time between Washington, DC and Montreal, Canada. He speaks fluent French and Spanish and has a working use of Italian and Thai.
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