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Quand :
mars 23, 2020 @ 7:00 – 9:30 America/Toronto Fuseau horaire
Où :
Sur Place Media
5585 Avenue du Parc
Montréal, QC H2V 4H2, Montréal
QC H2V 4H2
Contact :

This workshop aims at demystifying documentary practice, and will give you the confidence, knowledge and skills to enter this space and self-produce your own documentary. 

Everyone has a story to tell but, too often, commercial demands and a closed movie industry appear as impenetrable barriers to making documentary films. Simon Kessler has worked in both network television and on personal projects with limited financial and technical support. Both experiences have led him to realize that a documentary storyteller is limited only by their imagination and ingenuity. Big budgets and institutional support are nice, but lacking those resources should not be a barrier to making your movie, or just getting started in the genre.   


  • Monday, March 9, 7:00-9:30pm
  • Monday, March 16, 7:00-9:30pm
  • Monday, March 23, 7:00-9:30pm
  • Monday, March 30, 7:00-9:30pm


The format of the workshop will be problem-based. Each week we will address two to three problems that commonly emerge in documentary film. We will consider (1) pragmatic concerns—from camera choice to gaining site access and building rapport, (2) aesthetic concerns—from framing to exposure and shot choice, and (3) theoretical concerns—including questioning the documentary’s point of view and claims to objectivity.

These problems will be further elaborated each week through screenings of short excerpts of different kinds of documentaries. As a group, we will identify and discuss the choices filmmakers have made in order to assist each participant define and approach their own practice. There will be opportunities for feedback during the workshop. Over the course of the four weeks, you’ll be invited to produce two to five minutes of footage, implementing some of the techniques and discussions from previous weeks.  

Who should attend?

This workshop is best suited for people who are beginning to develop their documentary film practice. Participants are encouraged to come with a project idea they would like to develop over the course of the workshop. By the end of the workshop, participants can expect to come away with the tools to start their own documentary projects. 

Weekly plan (subject to change)

WEEK 1 :
MAPPING OUT YOUR PROJECT AND ASKING YOURSELF THE RIGHT QUESTIONS (Main topics: working without money, gaining access, building trust)

WEEK 2 :
OBSERVING WITH A CAMERA AND CONSTRUCTING A DOCUMENTARY POINT OF VIEW (Main topics : Choosing your equipment, thinking about the offscreen, the power of sound)

Exercise for the two-week break :
Based on discussions from the first two weeks, shoot a 2 to 3-minute-long observational documentary thinking about 1) having an authentic relationship with your character and 2) constructing a documentary point of view.

WEEK 3 :

WEEK 4 :
THE LIMITS OF DIY DOCUMENTARY (Main topics: Collaborating with an editor, a sound designer and editor, a colorist)


 Simon Kessler is a French documentary filmmaker based between Montreal and Paris. He has directed and developed a number of documentaries for network television, including the  National Geographic and Planète+ channels. His documentary AF447: In Search of Flight AF447 has been featured by the Guardian, France Inter, Radio-France International and Radio-Canada. In addition to his television work, Simon has developed a number of self-produced short documentaries. His personal practice privileges intimate portraits of people, places and institutions in intersticial moments.

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