Documentary storytelling is based on the interface of narrative content and the audience‘s emotional journey while watching it. We need to keep a dual perspective: organizing the events in a narrative sequence, while imagining what the audience will feel when they watch it.
In this intensive two-day workshop, you will learn Four Solution-Oriented Models of Documentary Story Development and how to apply genre strategies to maximize the impact of your pre-production, production and post-production choices.
The documentaries we will review include “Rivers and Tides”, “Bowling for Columbine”, “Daughter from Danang”, and two HBO films where Thomas Schlesinger was the story consultant: “Prom Night in Mississippi”, with Morgan Freeman, and “A Small Act”.
Tom has taught screenwriting seminars for Pixar Animation Studios, Lucasfilm Ltd., the American Film Institute, the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America, and the National Film Schools in Berlin and Munich.
Topics to be Covered
- The art and craft of storytelling in documentary films
- The parallel journeys of the filmmaker, characters and audience
- The Essential Elements of Genre Storytelling in documentaries
- Finding the deeper story within your original concept and intentions
- How to skillfully reveal exposition and back-story
- The power of present time storytelling
- How to make “talking heads” more engaging
- Using mythic and Aristotelian structure to shape your documentary
- Creating character triangles, deepening the viewer’s emotional engagement
- How the Three Levels of Conflict help you create your through-line
- How to determine the Driving Engine of your documentary
- Exploring your character’s conscious modes and unconscious needs to reveal theme
- How to organize your footage in the editing room
- How to shape a Palette of Tones and the appropriate Point of View to tell your story
- Analyzing film clips from a wide variety of documentary films
- Addressing challenges in writing the proposal, shooting the film and editing the film
- How to create a strong opening, an engaging middle, and a satisfying ending
(20% discount: DGC, WGC, CMPA, ACCT, DOC, ACTRA, WIFT, AFCOOP, DELUXE clients; students & previous clients)
Patricia AquinoTel: 905-901-1200
Working with Tom Schlesinger is worth its weight in gold!
—Paul Saltzman, director-producer, Prom Night in Mississippi
Attending Tom’s workshop was a creative turning point for me as a documentary filmmaker.
—Nimisha Mukerji, director-producer, 65 Red Roses