Dramaturgy for documentary films

Dramaturgy for documentary films

  • Duration : 2 weeks (70h)
  • Capacity : 10 trainees

The workshop

Next session from the 22th of april to the 3rd of may 2019.

The aim of this Workshop, designed together with Jean-Pierre Sarrazac, is to free up documentary storytelling from being merely the reproduction of reality by learning how to use the tools of dramaturgy. The participants will experiment with new ways of writing that will enable them to recover the inventiveness that is too often forced and thus enrich their conception and practice of documentary filmmaking.

The programme

Each morning, different exercises will give the Workshops both their individual and collective dimension.

In the afternoon, films are screened to present the diversity of documentary filmmaking.

Teaching methodology

We cannot give any recipes for how to write a film, there are none. Nor are there any « Open Sesames » to the audiovisual market. What happens at Varan is a form of experimentation. For two weeks, a group of trainees will work together to help each of them find his/her own voice and style of creative documentary filmmaking. It is thus both a personal commitment (to confront different forms as well as different ways of looking at the world) as well as a collective experience (to intervene, write and observe collectively).

Filmmaking is about being sensitive to the world around us, curious about the Other, armed with a truly critical spirit, a large dose of inventiveness and in particular, a real desire for sharing. These are the qualities that we want you to display and use throughout this course.

One of the main pedagogic principles of this course is to replace every type of judgement about your own work and that of the other trainees by the « magic If » borrowed from Stanislavski’s vocabulary. Thus the group will cooperate with the development of each trainee’s narrative technique. Training in collective writing, one of the aims of this workshop, will be accelerated.

How to reach the heart of reality is the question underlying these exercises. Experimentation with « short-cuts », with « choral storytelling », with « dialogues with oneself », « dialogues with the invisible » or of « a chorus in the city »… The work done in the morning will open up the formal boundaries, questioning the codes of documentary filmmaking. Other writing exercises, « a news item », « the walls dividing us do not reach heaven », « an attack of family paranoia » (from the « The Snitch » one of the scenes from « Fear and Misery of the IIIrd Reich » by Bertholt Brecht) will produce extraordinary, moving and daring narratives. After having defined the cinematographic mechanism used in the projects, or in the screenplays and films, and after having shown how they are concocted on the spur of the moment in the example of « direct cinema », we will examine what mechanisms are used in the films screened in the afternoon when the subject is « a news item ». By « deforming to inform », the information is guaranteed to reach the heart. The aim of these sessions is to encourage the filmmakers to grant themselves a novelist’s freedom of expression.

Application details

The application dossiers must include :

  • an autobiography (one page)
  • a news item in the media as re-written by the candidate (1 page)

The candidate’s dossiers should be sent by mail to contact@ateliersvaran.com

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Questions about our training courses? Please contact us 01 43 56 64 04

6, impasse de Mont Louis
75011 Paris

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