Wanted: Non-Fiction Seminar Review



  • Passion and enthusiasm are what pays
  • First step on coming up with a doco idea/concept development: Do your research on past, similar films; study the filmmaker’s past experiences/approach to the matter; study discourse surrounding the topic; study media reception
  • It’s important to find someone/thing specific, that you have a connection with; and tell it from a personal P.O.V)
  • It’s important to ask yourself these questions whenever you want to start making a film: what stories do you want to tell? why? who are you making it for? how do you intend to reach audiences?
  • ‘Conformation’ is key – for those in front of the camera they have to want to be in the film
  • In terms of documentary ethics – release forms are important; always make sure your subjects know what they are signing for; making sure to let them know if you decide to cut them out
  • Crowd funding is the way to go when it comes to budgeting
  • Connecting with the audience is key and valuable even before the film comes out


  • Interesting to see how each industry speaker would take on the project as if it were their own
  • Background stories were interesting – how they got started; what were their interests; how they’ve evolved from their initial interest/field


  • Light-hearted approach helped relax speakers
  • Camera positions – all the way up top, mid of stairway, diagonally in front of stage
  • Lighting positions – one of each side of stage
  • Approach to guest speakers – whether to have more than one host, etc


Content was relevant and informative?

D – The seminar content was both relevant and informative. The seminar covered documentary ethics, funding, and answered the question of how to get started (which ideas to build upon, etc), all of which are areas not touched/focused on in university studies. In saying so, it was good insight into the process of documentary filmmaking and the points to consider when filming a documentary.

Approach was coherent and engaging?


C – Approach was coherent, but not engaging. The seminar had a good flow and/or structure to it; but I felt it was lacking in terms of audience engagement. Guest speakers seemed a bit awkward and uncomfortable and some even a little reluctant to share.


Theme was executed with originality and style?


D – Theme did not shine through. It was predictable and unoriginal and the Doco group did not really do much with the theme and what they did, did not match the theme. It was more Hollywood action than anything. But I still awarded them a D given their short time frame.


Staging was professional?


D – There wasn’t anything special in terms of aesthetics; nothing that contributed to the theme of the seminar. As for lighting and camera positions, I thought the doco group did a good job lighting the stage. Given the short time frame the doco group was given to consider the placement/setup of technical equipment (which now, I’m sure, serves as a guideline for the other seminar groups), I think they did a considerably good job.


Promotion was varied and timely?


D – Promotion was both timely and varied. The doco group executed their marketing plan, both digitally and physically, via promotional tools such as a promo trailer, posters all aroung building 9, and a chalk drawing (inclusive of the seminar details – time, place, date) along Bowen Street. Again, given the time frame, the Doco group did a good job.


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