Documentary storytelling: a toolbox for working on non-fiction narratives

Documentary storytelling: a toolbox for working on non-fiction narratives

International Workshop

Course Facilitator: Eduardo Rencurrell Díaz, Ph.D 

The Idea
The emergence of new platforms, the dynamics of these production processes, as well as the rise that the gaze towards the real has taken in recent times have given place to a growingly widespread phenomenology of this audiovisual genre. Much has been said about the resurgence of documentary film in the digital age and created a space for discussion and exploration. The democratization of the media has made it easy, in pragmatic terms, to film a documentary with a limited amount of means and resources, which has augmented its production volume and circulation on the internet and other spaces. However, quantity does not necessarily mean quality: many works, despite of approaching interesting themes, do not fully meet the objectives set, nor do they do justice to their dramatic potential. 

The Aim
This workshop aims to provide participants with fundamental knowledge to understand the formal architecture of the documentary film, willing to help them improving their professional practices. Our theoretical-practical approach will guide you through the de-construction of a documentary through various  exercises. The workshop hopes to educate scholars, especially those who work on history and more specifically on oral history – and other theoretical fields of study- so they gain the relevant knowledge that will allow them to create their own documentaries. Oral history is a field that our institute, GIRES, considers to be of high significance for humanities: the preservation of memory, oral testimonies, culture, tradition and history have been crucial for the formation of national identities. Our participants will gain the freedom, through the knowledge of documentary making, to record their own projects and create useful archives for next generations and the historian of the future.

The Outcome

  • Understand with a higher level of clarity documentary film narrative.
  • Apply theoretical tools for writing documentary film proposals 
  • Analyzing the craft of making a documentary 
  • Gain the basic knowledge of how to create your own documentary 
  • Explaining fundamental issues about documentary film theory
  • Identifying or conceptualizing the thematic background of a documentary  
  • Analyzing or putting together narrative elements within a documentary film structure
  • Differencing the different typologies of documentaries
  • Evaluating the communicative/expressive dimensions of a documentary
  • Writing a documentary film proposal-techniques of making an attractive proposal

The Program

Thematic 1 (Sunday-November 1, 2020)
Defining documentary film. Debating about objectivity and subjectivity. Differences from fiction and documentary films. The issue of representing reality. Contemporary polemics about documentary film. Is it necessary a script for doing a documentary? What are the ties from documentary film creation and researching? How to address the conceptual approach for a documentary film? Duration: 4 hours  

Thematic 2 (Sunday-November 8, 2020)
Possible morphologies. Narrative devices and agents. Working out with social actors. Handling dramaturgical conflict. The progression on documentary films. Structure forms and paradigms. Rhetorical strategies. The use of tropes. The narrative thread and the argumentative lines. Relating images and sounds. The communicative and expressive dimensions of documentary film. Duration: 4 hours  

Thematic 3 (Sunday-November 15, 2020)
Debating about form and content. Bill Nichols representation modalities. The forms of documentary film: direct cinema, testimonial documentary, self-referential documentary, experimental documentary, the docudrama and the reenactment into the documentary, animation documentary. Duration: 4 hours  

Thematic 4 (Sunday-November 22, 2020)
The Project folder. Concept, functions and relevance. Constitutive elements (objectives, audience, duration, typology, format/ justification/ Intention letters/ ways for presenting the story: synopsis, argument, outline, prospective script/aesthetical treatment/ state of development). Duration: 4 hours  

Due to the restrictions of Corona Crisis our event (for the time being) will take place virtually

  • Dates of Workshop

    GIRES Headquarters (GMT +2)
    1, 8, 15, 22 November 2020

  • Deadline for Registration

    30 October 2020

  • Acceptance notification

    Day of Registration

  • Registration fee

    Four Thematics = 240 Euros
    Single Thematic =75 Euros 

  • Accreditation

    Official Certificate issued by GIRES