Documentary film making: a practical course

Course Dates: 29/10/18 - 20/05/19
Time: 10:00 - 17:00
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Conrad Blakemore, Lyndon Ives, Lily Markiewicz

Fancy making your own short documentary film? Join this exciting, in-depth course, with experienced documentary filmmakers teaching you everything you need to know to research, shoot and edit your own project. You'll use industry-standard cameras and professional editing software.

See what you could create – view a selection of film and animation work made on our courses on our Vimeo site


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  • Documentary film making: a practical course

Documentary film making: a practical course

  • Documentary film making: a practical course

What is the course about?

Feeling inspired to make a short documentary film about a subject that appeals to you? Join our documentary filmmaker experts in a supportive environment to explore the history of documentary filmmaking and introduce you to all the techniques and key skills needed to research, shoot and edit your own short film. We'll look at everything from ideas for subject matter, to operating a video camera, understanding sound, and effective editing. You'll get to practise on professional-level equipment, and receive expert feedback on your work.

Although this is a non-accredited course, students successfully completing the course will be awarded our Build Certificate - based on achievements of the course outcomes and attendance.

You can pay for your course in instalments in person at our enrolment counter. For more information, please call our enrolment team on 222-66-889-99 or email [email protected] and we’ll call you back to discuss this further.

What previous students liked most about this course: "The opportunity to develop practical skills and see if I could do a project (from start to finish) on my own. My practical skills (camera and some sound) have improved significantly.”
“I liked the in-depth feedback on my editing, including how to improve the overall structure, what I needed to film more of, and small changes to improve timing.”
“Learning and putting into practice all the stages of short film making. Multiple tutors very beneficial”
“I felt supported and encouraged throughout the course. I learnt a lot and feel confident to work with video. I was amazed by the high quality of teaching and teachers’ expertise. We had a very nice and supportive group.”
“I was touched by the quality of the equipment we could borrow. Everybody in the team really wanted my project to go forward.”
“Great teaching. Very individual approach. This is a very professional level course.”


What will we cover?

In the first term you will be introduced to a brief history of the genre, examine the structure of different types of documentary film, look at researching subject matter and writing a proposal, using video cameras and shooting techniques, interviewing subjects, and using sound. You will also learn essential editing skills and create a first short film. In the second term you will learn more about how to structure and edit your own project, learning further editing techniques and how to refine your final film.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- identify some different styles of documentary film
- write a proposal for a short film from your own research
- use and operate a video camera to film your own material
- film an interview effectively
- understand and use some of the ways to add sound to enhance a finished film
- use basic editing techniques like append, connect and insert to create a short sequence.
- structure a basic sequence with a beginning, middle and end to tell a story or present an argument.

What previous students have achieved on this course: “Understanding exactly what is required when considering making a documentary. The confidence to go out and make a documentary. I learned aspects of what makes a great edit. Worked with some great film makers, both tutors and students.”

“I have learnt about narrative structure and have begun to learn how to watch my own work and identify how it can be improved. I have learnt the process of making a short film and I have completed some of my film.”

“How to critically assess work, how to make a movie, lots of recording, editing and sound recording skills.”


What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is a beginner's course so you don't need any previous experience, but you should have an interest in the field of documentary, film and photography. Most importantly bring enthusiasm and a burning desire to create your own short documentary film!

Some basic experience of using a video camera, or stills camera would be helpful but not essential. Some basic computer IT skills, basic numeracy and literacy are needed. You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and be prepared to take part in group discussion. You should be happy using numbers and able to do simple measurements and calculations.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught using a range of techniques including workshops, short lectures, demonstrations, practical exercises, tutorials, group and individual assistance and hand-outs. There will be class work and some practical sessions at locations near Build. Students will be expected to research and work on their project in their own time outside of class sessions.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will need to buy your own SD cards for shooting so you can keep your own footage. You should also bring your own portable hard drive to store and back up your project (please note PC formatted hard drives can be read by Apple mac computers, but not written to.) You will be responsible for any costs relating to your film project such as location fees or release forms. During the class you can use the Digital Arts studio's HD cameras for project work. If you own a camcorder this may be useful if you wish to shoot outside of college time. You will be using some computer software on this course. We have FinalCut Pro X on some machines in the Student Centre at Build. If you want to work at home you will need to purchase your own copy. A 30 day free trial is available via the Apple website: You will need to pay for travel costs to your own project locations.

If you would like to buy art materials for your personal use outside of the course, Build students receive 10% discount off everything* from Cass Art, the UK's leading art supplies retailer. Your tutor will advise you on what you should buy. You will need to show your enrolment receipt in-store to receive your discount. Visit the Charing Cross shop at 13 Charing Cross Road WC2H 0EP or find your local shop at *Terms and conditions apply, visit

Please note this course is exempt from our refunds and transfers policy.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

If you wish to develop your editing and filmmaking skills further, Build offers a whole range of digital editing and creative filmmaking courses suitable for all levels, from sound design to narrative filmmaking and animation. You may also wish to develop your film making further on our Build Film School course. Browse the website or prospectus to get inspired.
General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to
Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details.

General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Customer Reviews 5 item(s)

Write a review
An excellent course; Demanding, exacting, enervating and very exciting. Your day will never be the same again. You will learn so much about Documentary film making. I know I moved from zero to competent in the few months I was on the course. Time flies by. It is one of the best, if not the best documentary making courses in the country. The tutors are highly experienced editors and film-makers. This Documentary Film making course must be one of the industry secrets. Before I did this course I did not know how to use basic technology let alone the Final Cut Pro X editing software. Who would have thought that by the end of the course I would have something I could actually submit to a film festival?
Course Rating
Review by Yaz / (Posted on 23/03/2016)
The tutors are two of the best tutors in the business. Both expert in their fields, One being a professional film editor and filmmaker and the other, also professional, having long experience of the theatre as well as film, of still photography as well as movies. The course itself is very well structured and demanding, with the first principles and beyond of video editing (with Final Cut Pro software) and film making in a very practical way. Alongside this are lectures and discussions on film theory and history as it relates to practice. There is a very good variety of video cameras, Apple Mac computers and film equipment for student use with excellent backup from technicians when needed.
For anybody serious about film making, this is the course to take.
Course Rating
Review by Tony / (Posted on 03/10/2015)
I'm so glad I did this course. Although challenging it was time and money well spent. When it comes to Documentary filmmaking I recommend this course to both the experienced looking to brush up on their skills and
inexperienced in a heart beat. The tutors are excellent. I'm not surprised that one of us won an award.
Course Rating
Review by YG / (Posted on 25/09/2015)
This course will enable one to make documentary films. All aspects of the process are taught by professional film makers with a thorough understanding of their subject and an enthusiastic commitment to teaching. The atmosphere is collegiate and supportive. Everyone on my course produced a film and many of us were total beginners. I thoroughly recommend this course.
Course Rating
Review by X-Man-I / (Posted on 23/09/2015)
A thoroughly enjoyable course with excellent and experienced tutors which helped me develop my documentary film making skills.
Course Rating
Review by Ian / (Posted on 23/09/2015)

Book your place

Course Code: VG388

Mon, day, 29 Oct - 20 May '19

Duration: 22 sessions (over 22 weeks)

Full fee: £1,509.00
Senior fee: £1,207.00
Concession: £920.00
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Or call to enrol: 222-66-889-99

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Any questions? [email protected]
or call 020 7492 2700/2703

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Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online . You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.

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