Turning News Stories into Documentary Film

Masterclass with Filmmaker Jerry Rothwell (Sour Grapes)

How do you take a story, which has been headline news, and give it the treatment of a documentary filmmaker?  What are the kinds of news stories that inspire documentary makers to delve beneath them?  What are the challenges a documentary maker faces when confronted with this task? How do you avoid the pitfall of simply retelling the same story?  How do you persuade the main protagonists to talk?  How do you make a film on a specialist niche subject appeal to a wider audience?

These and many other questions will be addressed during this masterclass which has the following aims:

1. Broadening the knowledge and skill base of Irish documentary filmmakers – including directors, producers and researchers – by learning from a documentary expert who has specific experience in this type of filmmaking.

2. Enabling filmmakers to understand the importance of the approach to both the subject (theme) and subjects (participants) when considering how a news story can be developed into a documentary film treatment.

3. Understanding the challenges involved in creating trusting and lasting relationships with participants who already may have been ‘interviewed’ many times for the purpose of the news story, to allow the filmmaker to tell the story in a whole new way.

4. Understanding the challenges involved in considering the use of news footage and previous ‘reportage’ in the final film while maintaining the film’s own unique style, tone & approach.

Equally suitable for experienced documentary filmmakers who have produced/directed documentaries for either TV or theatrical release but who have yet to develop a documentary treatment based directly on a subject matter that was initially reported as a news story/current affairs item.  It would also be of use to documentary researchers in terms of aiding them to think ‘outside of the box’ when researching into a documentary subject in order to see past a simple news headline to the story that lies beneath, along with up and coming documentary filmmakers who are always in search of their next subject matter.

Supported by Screen Training Ireland

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Saturday 6th August, 11am, Headfort House – cost €20

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