Year Program: September 3, 2021 - May 21, 2022
Fall Semester Program 2021: September 21 - December 18, 2021
PROGRAM IN BRIEF
The Documentary Film Program at Prague Film School aims at creating the independent documentary filmmaker. Through intensive practical and theoretical work, each student learns how to adapt the narrative tools of drama to tell truthful stories about the real world that simultaneously entertain, educate and inspire audiences. The course is designed to develop professional-level production and post production skills.
Students in the documentary program are immersed in an extremely rigorous production program shooting documentary pieces weekly. Living in Prague, a city with a tumultuous past (WWII, communism, etc.) students have access to a wealth of local historical, social and cultural subjects.
PFS documentary students have also capitalized on their position in the geographical center of Europe to shoot such varied topics as the refugee crises in Lesbos to surfing sub-cultures in France.
Students completing the Prague Film School program have been uniquely successful in launching their careers (Caitlin Burke, We Could Be King – Emmy 2015; Anne Lunde, The Russian Woodpecker – Sundance Grand Jury Award, 2015 , Noemi Renevey, Solar Impulse project).
Production-based but academically rigorous, Prague Film School programs are approved for university credit by many top tier colleges, including Vassar, Bowdoin, Oberlin, Sarah Lawrence, Bard, Barnard, Northwestern, to name a few.
In the first semester Documentary Production course, students complete numerous shooting assignments designed to develop critical skills in documentary film language, camera technique and editing. Lectures, demonstrations, screenings, and analytical exercises provide the foundation for the fieldwork.
Topics covered include:
- Documentary camera
- Documentary editing
- Documentary writing
- Sound and sound design
- Camera movement
- Interviewing techniques
- Documentary themes and genres
- Documentary ethics
By crewing on each others’ assignments, students gain extensive skills in directing, producing, shooting, and recording sound. Rigorous critiques are a vital component of the course. In addition to these exercises, each student produces and directs a 5-minute documentary short film on a subject of their choice. Students also crew on each other's projects.
Specialized courses in editing and cinematography are the other key components of the program. Students learn to edit on latest version of Avid Media Composer and learn shooting with Sony 4K XDCam (and other formats, if interested) and lighting theory. By studying and practicing narrative as well as documentary shooting techniques, students gain an advanced fluency in the language of film.
Supplementing the practical component of the course, students attend screenings to grasp documentary filmmaking as an evolving medium, currently being reinvented by filmmakers who use cinematography, sound, music, editing, graphics, animation, and distribution platforms in new and innovative ways. These screenings draw upon a rich pool of international documentaries, both past and present, which cross themes and genres. These examples will in turn help students find their own unique voice, as documentary filmmakers.
SECOND SEMESTER - DOCUMENTARY
In Advanced Documentary Production, students focus on in-depth development and pre-production of their diploma films. This includes completing weekly assignments for instructors and peer review and learning to research and write a compelling proposal and treatment. By the end of the semester, each student will have both produced and directed their own diploma film -- a 15-minute documentary -- and crewed on their classmates’ projects. Through extensive brainstorming and pitching sessions, students also leave the course armed with a portfolio of critiqued project ideas to further develop and make a reality after completion of the program.
The second semester program includes the Documentary Workshop, a practical course in which students further develop their technical skills through weekly shooting and editing exercises. Topics covered may include: Advanced Interview Techniques, Documentary Reenactments, Archival Research, Portrait of a Person or Place, Music for Documentary, and various Cinema Vérité-style shooting scenarios.
The most important component of the second semester, and indeed the entire year documentary course, is the diploma film - which should be of broadcast quality.