documentary filmmaking

Documentary masterclass with Arthur Cary

Arthur Cary (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

From comedy to docs, via reality TV: “With my writing partner from university, I was writing script-based comedy… we got close a few times to getting things away but it wasn’t quite working,” recalled Cary.

He landed a job as a runner at Endemol, working on BBC Three show Celebrity Scissorhands and then Big Brother: “I exploited every connection I had at Endemol and got a job at North One, which used to make a lot of Cutting Edge [documentaries] for Channel 4.”

RTS West of England talk documentary filmmaking at Abbas Media Law workshop

The two media lawyers looked at the contractual, legal and regulatory issues that can crop up in access docs – films that that require access to institutions such as hospitals  or communities – including data protection, defamation and advice on drafting access agreements. 

They also tackled other thorny issues such as the police requesting rushes and contributors withdrawing consent.

RTS Student Masterclasses 2018: from journalism to camerawork

Ruth Pitt, Pia Di Ciaula and Rick Barker (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Journalism

Clive Myrie

Journalist and presenter, BBC News

In an era of widespread concern about fake news, trusted and experienced correspondents such as the BBC’s award-winning Clive Myrie are more important than ever.

Lynn Novick on the power of documentaries and working with Ken Burns

(Credit: Florentine Films/Stephanie Berger)

Can something as apparently ephemeral as a TV programme be genuinely cathartic and help to bring a measure of healing, perhaps even closure, to a national tragedy? That was the hope behind the making of The Vietnam War, the acclaimed documentary made by Ken Burns and his long-time collaborator Lynn Novick.

Last month, PBS America began showing the 18-hour directors’ cut in the UK. This followed the British premiere of the 10-hour version by BBC Four last autumn and its repeat over Christmas.

Blue Planet II producers describe extreme lengths crew went to for the show

(Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Professional skill, time, money and the latest camera technologies are all vital to making landmark natural-history shows. Less well known, when it comes to seeking unique footage of life deep in the world’s oceans, is how programme-makers put their health on the line.

The lengths that these men and women go to in the cause of producing iconic TV was explained in detail during an RTS event, “Diving beneath the waves – the making of Blue Planet II”.

Bumble announces new grant scheme for aspiring female filmmakers

Credit: Bumble

The initiative will give five female filmmakers in the UK and Ireland a £20,000 grant to make their own short films, each focused on female empowerment, equality and kindness.

In partnership with Women in Film & TV, the five entrants will receive guidance and bespoke mentoring over the production period.

"I don’t know if what I did was brave": Blue Planet II producers discuss extreme lengths taken for show

(Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Sarah Conner, an assistant producer on the landmark show that generated record ratings for BBC One, revealed how she had knelt on the bottom of the ocean for eight-hours at a time. There in the dark depths diving rebreathers in sub-zero temperatures she would direct cameraman Hugh Miller.  

Levison Wood's tips for budding explorers

Levison Wood crossing the Caucuses (Credit: Simon Buxton)

You can’t just get up one morning and decide to be an explorer.

Well, you can, but you’re not going to get on television with that attitude. You’ve got to jump through lots of hoops to get there and it’s not just a case of how many countries you’ve been to. You don’t have to join the Army to get into TV, but I think it’s good to have some level of expertise or niche knowledge. Once you’re an expert in anything, in any industry, people will come to you. That’s where you want to be.

Tea Break Tips - Storytelling Through Editing

Bonnie Rae Brickman is a New York-born film and TV editor with over 25 years’ experience, much of it in news and documentary. Her work has been honoured with four Emmy Awards and screened at film festivals worldwide. Bonnie currently teaches editing on the Ethnographic & Documentary Film MA programme at University College London. She shares tips on the art of telling stories through editing.