Documentary Filmmaking

Dates: June 1–18, 2021

Tuition: $2,000

2 undergraduate studio credits 

This intensive online residency offers participants an opportunity to sharpen their documentary directing skills, including the art of the interview and verité storytelling, as well as learn professional techniques for camera, lighting and sound, and better understand the mechanics of editing a scene for the greatest impact.


Participants will create two short interview-based documentaries during the program, giving their skills a turbocharge.


Workshops with documentary filmmakers complement independent work. Together these elements form an intense program encouraging creativity and advancement. Work-in-progress screenings allow for filmmakers to receive critique from faculty and their peers. Guest filmmakers will show their documentaries and join Q&A sessions, designed to give further insight into the experiences of working filmmakers. The program concludes with a public screening event of each participant’s best film.


Participants will work with their own filmmaking equipment, using video cameras of any level, including cellphones and DSLRs. Staff technicians will be available for assistance and technical support.


Past faculty have included: filmmakers Deborah Dickson (Oscar nominee Lalee’s Kin) Richard Hankin and Erik Spink; cinematographer Tom Hurwitz, ASC (Sundance winner Queen of Versailles) and Amitabh Joshi; editors E. Donna Shepherd and Ann Collins (Netflix’s Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold), among others.


Hosted by the MFA Social Documentary Film Department.


Prerequisites: A working knowledge of any editing software (Avid, Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut or iMovie) and a working knowledge of filming with a video camera.


Note: All students with an active registration in this online course will be given free access to the Adobe Creative Cloud. Participants are required to provide their own video camera. This residency is fully online and offered through a combination of synchronous as well as asynchronous lectures, discussions and activities. Synchronous sessions will be announced and scheduled in consideration of different time zones.


For further information or questions regarding SVA's Summer Residencies email residency@sva.edu.