13 – 14 SEPTEMBER
INDIA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE, NEW DELHI
The Workshops will be open to Registered Participants Only.
The Workshops will be open to Registered Participants Only.
John Grierson described documentary as the creative actualisation of reality. The Workshop seeks to educate and empower starting-out, early and mid-career filmmakers as to how to most effectively tell stories, that draw on reality, to impact viewers with their unique and personal vision. It will sensitise filmmakers to develop the craft of storytelling through images and the ways in which technology can facilitate this. It will point to the essential grammar of narrative structures and how sound and visuals come together in the process of communication. It is only when one understands the essential grammar of the documentary film, can one innovate and transcend it.
Switching on a camera does not “create” an image. It merely records it. It is a series of interrelated elements, fueled by the filmmaker’s imagination, subjective location and point of view, which gives meaning to images and creates a story – a film.
In a world bombarded by images and information, where does the documentary filmmaker stand? What makes a documentary compelling, moving and different? What are the processes, techniques and skills required to arrive at a film language that is one’s own and can challenge inherited and popular notions of seeing and creating? How does one negotiate questions around aesthetics, politics, reality, authenticity, representation, responsibility and story-telling?
The Intensive Workshop will explore the tools, the mindset, the ethics and politics of creative story-telling, expanding the contours of the documentary form and engaging with filmmaking approaches and practices that can nuance what films say and how they say them.
The Workshop will be divided into six sessions over two days:
10:00 am – 11:00 am | INTRODUCTION TO DOCUMENTARY WITH BINA PAUL
The session will introduce contemporary notions of the documentary, the role of the filmmaker, ethical conundrums that a maker is faced with and the future of the form.
Bina Paul graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India with a specialisation in editing. She has edited over 35 feature films and is a recipient of two National Awards and numerous State Awards. Bina has been the Artistic Director of the International Film Festival of Kerala for the last ten years and has served on the juries of various international film festivals including those held in Locarno, Durban, Morocco and Berlin.
11:30 am – 01:30 pm | RESEARCH AND CONCEPTUALISATION FOR A DOCUMENTARY WITH SAMEERA JAIN
What kind of journey begins when a filmmaker has an idea and starts to research for a documentary film? How does the concept grow and develop in the process? What are the creative metamorphoses that occur, enhancing understanding and enriching the film in form and content? And what is the use of doing research at all? Is it about obtaining more information and putting it into the film, or is it about something else, vital to the cinematic expression?
Sameera Jain is a filmmaker and editor, with over 30 years of work experience. She has edited several award winning documentaries and some fiction feature films. Her directorial ventures Portraits of Belonging, Born at Home and Mera Apna Sheher have been recognised for cinematic excellence at national and international festivals. She has been on film juries and participated in curriculum formulation at various institutions. She mentors film students and filmmakers at diverse platforms, and has taught filmmaking at several institutions, including her alma mater, the Film and Television Institute of India. She is Course Director of the Creative Documentary Course at SACAC, Delhi.
02:30 pm – 04:00 pm | SCRIPTING FOR A DOCUMENTARY WITH SAMINA MISHRA
Can a documentary film be scripted? Should it be scripted? The common notion about documentary filmmaking is that a script will emerge out of a shoot and on the edit table. But is it always so? The Workshop will explore film form, structure and treatment to understand the importance of outlining a treatment and structure even before shooting.
Samina Mishra is a documentary filmmaker and writer based in New Delhi, with a special interest in media for and about children. Her films include The Teacher and The World, Jagriti Yatra, Two Lives, The House on Gulmohar Avenue and Stories of Girlhood. She has written children’s books published by Scholastic, Tulika, Young Zubaan, The Wisdom Tree and Penguin. She worked on Nehru’s Children, an archival research project on the archive of the Children’s Film Society of India for the India Foundation for the Arts. She continues to conduct workshops for children and teachers and is currently teaching the International Baccalaureate Film Studies Programme at Pathways World School, Noida.
04:00 pm – 05:00 pm | INTERACTIVE EXERCISE WITH SAMINA MISHRA
A practical exercise that explores visual storytelling. Participants will be given a thematic prompt and asked to visualise, shoot still images and order them to create a narrative structure.
Participants will be required to carry mobile phones and laptops.
10:00 am – 01:00 pm | VISUALISING THE DOCUMENTARY WITH KAMAL SWAROOP
Often, the key challenge is to find the visual correlatives that will tell the story beyond their verbal expression. The cinematic form by its very nature needs to be driven by its imperative. This session will help sensitise filmmakers to the possibilities. What and how is the journey from abstract ideas to concrete visualisation? How does one develop the central argument of the film? Are there any formulas? Weaving in all the elements – aesthetic, creative, political and technical. Building relationships with people in the film? What do you say to the crew? What is one’s relationship with the cinematographer? Is there an unspoken communication, what are the elements that add to that communication? How does one capture the unexpected, the moments? How does one imbibe one’s own visual exposure into a documentary film and relate the story through one’s style? How much is enough? How does one integrate light, sound, composition into the narrative? What happens when plans fail?
Kamal Swaroop is a National Award and Filmfare Award winning film, television and radio director and screenwriter, who graduated from the Film and Television Institute in 1974, where his student works met with unusual international acclaim. He assisted Richard Attenborough in the filming of Gandhi. He has since made both documentary and feature films. Famously banned, a formal experimenter, Om-Dar-Ba-Dar (1988) is his master work.
02:00 pm – o5:00 pm | PUTTING THE FILM TOGETHER AND PUTTING IT OUT WITH BINA PAUL
The film finally comes together at the editing table, a reality check on the material the film has been able to assemble and its original aspirations. The editor plays a crucial role in responding to the material and working with the director to give expression to her ideas and vision. With digital technology opening up easier ways of shooting, an editor is confronted with hours of material. What is the process of sifting, choosing and structuring? How important is the editor’s own understanding of a subject. What happens when ideas and the visual confront each other? What do you keep? What do you leave out? What if the material challenges our views and ideas? What is the synergy between the director and the editor and how does one harmonise it?
Ultimately, a film is both art and an industrial product. It needs to remain sensitive to audiences and its potential market. What are the devices, techniques, strategies and objectives that might make this possible? Where does it go? Who does one pitch it to, where and how? What is its afterlife?
The Workshop is aimed at starting-out filmmakers, who have either already made films or are in the process of making their first/ second films. It is also aimed at early and mid-career filmmakers who wish to enhance and deepen their filmmaking knowledge, skills and practices.
10:00 AM – 05:00 PM, 13 SEPTEMBER
Can we move beyond rigid categorisations, and delve into the amazing world of audio-visual expression with openness, fearlessness and a sense of freedom? This interactive session seeks to take participants through a journey of exploration of the cinematic form through excerpts from documentaries, especially from the Indian context, that bring forth the plurality of forms that filmmakers evolve to say what they want to say.
In the second session, the Workshop will attempt to travel from an idea to possible treatments through concrete examples and exercises. How do we move from an idea to the context(s) to the story to storytelling? What role does imagination play in making a documentary?
Anupama Srinivasan is a freelance filmmaker, film teacher and curator based in Delhi. She has been making documentaries for the past 16 years, on themes like gender, music and education, often shooting and editing her own work. Her films I Wonder…, On my Own and On my Own Again, with PSBT, have been screened at various film festivals including 100 Years of Cinema, Yamagata, FIPA Biarritz, Mumbai, Madrid and Karachi. Nirnay, also for PSBT, which she co-directed and edited, won the Most Innovative Film Award at the Mumbai International Film Festival.
Anupama was Director of the IAWRT Asian Women’s Festival for three years and of the Peace Builders International Festival for one. She has been visiting faculty at NID Ahmedabad, Ashoka University and SACAC, Delhi and has mentored several short films under the aegis of IIT Delhi, National Bal Bhavan, DPS Ghaziabad, Katha, Pravah and PVR Nest.
10:00 AM – 05:00 PM, 14 SEPTEMBER
A lecture demonstration on how filmmaking is undergoing a sea change as more and more people are being able to afford to make films on their mobile phones, allowing them to create cinema. Thirty years ago, Jean-Luc Godard, one of the pioneers of the French nouvelle vague, had proclaimed that he found the medium of cinema really elite, that the cost prevented ordinary people from making films. He even said that he would not make films, till the technology, the process, became almost as cheap as writing or painting. Today, with the advent of amazing phone cameras, this is happening all around us. In fact, with the technology made possible with the iPhone, one can even edit on the phone. The Masterclass will demonstrate the above, with concrete examples of documentaries and short experimental films, shot on phone.
It will talk about the way the paraphernalia associated with filmmaking, the cranes, tracks, tripods, have become things of the past. People are eschewing the conventional grammar – shot breakdown, long shot, mid shot, close shot, over shoulder, etc. and shooting long takes, changing angles, allowing the actors to perform, in a natural, organic way, rather than shooting in brief spurts and takes, and so on. People are getting used to a slightly rougher shooting style – the image breathing, losing focus sometimes, aperture changing. All these were considered to be mistakes, earlier, but are not only acceptable, but becoming fashionable, stylish! It will demonstrate the use of mobile phones for filmmaking, and how that is bringing about a change in the language and grammar of cinema.
Ranjan Palit has been working professionally in cinema, for the last 35 years, as a cinematographer, director and producer. He has shot over a hundred documentaries, 14 feature films and around 250 commercials for screen and television. He has made a dozen documentaries, including Forever Young and In Camera. He is currently editing his first feature film, as director, cinematographer, and producer. Ranjan has won four National Awards and several international awards. He has been conducting masterclasses on cinematography and documentary filmmaking, at places like Berkeley, Austin, Helsinki, Busan, Yogyakarta and Taipei, among others, and been on several international festival juries.