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Make A Short Documentary!

Starts April 8

4 sessions: Mondays, April 8-29, 6:30–9:30pm

Are you thinking about making a documentary? Do you have an idea or have already started to shoot? In this class you’ll learn how to take an idea for a short documentary from concept to completion. Working in teams or individually, each student will produce, shoot, and edit a short documentary (3-5 minutes) in four weeks. Taught by documentary filmmaker Melody Gilbert, you will:

  • Practice pitching
  • Create a story plan for your doc
  • Develop interviewing and storytelling skills
  • Shoot sequences for your doc
  • Transcribe footage
  • Create a “paper edit” from footage
  • Edit footage using Adobe Premiere Pro CC editing software (or your own)
  • Review rough cuts and prepare final videos for export

This class is designed to emulate a real-life experience of working for a production company and going through the necessary steps to make documentary: pre-production, production, and post-production. At the end of the course there will be a public screening at FilmNorth of the documentaries made in the class. Students should have basic cinema production experience and familiarity with editing software.

Tuition: $235 regular/$175 member/$130 low-income

Melody Gilbert has directed, produced, shot (and sometimes edited) character-driven stories for more than 20 years. Her seven feature-length documentaries are noteworthy for featuring a rare intimacy with her subjects as she unearths previously hidden worlds. She works mostly solo and has the ability to get people to reveal their innermost thoughts, whether it’s the family of a child who can’t feel pain (A Life Without Pain/SXSW), a former Vice President of the United States (Fritz: The Walter Mondale Story/PBS), or a physically healthy person who wants to become an amputee (Whole/Sundance Channel).

Melody directed, produced, and shot The Summer Help (2016), co-directed the first 3D documentary made in Bulgaria, Steps In The Fire, and she also served as a producer on three Minnesota-made films, American Heart (2013), The Starfish Throwers (2014), and Women Outward Bound (2015). In 2018 Melody premiered her newest documentary, Silicone Soul, which explores the emotional connection some people have to their synthetic companions and what that means for the future of human relationships. Silicone Soul was invited by the Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival for its world premiere, was recently selected to screen at the prestigious DOC NYC, and won the Best Editing award at the Covellite International Film Festival.

In 2011 Melody moved to Eastern Europe where she taught filmmaking and journalism at American University in Bulgaria. She is the founder of Docuclub Minnesota, a recipient of the very first McKnight Foundation Artist Fellowship for Filmmakers, and a huge fan of Dunn Brother’s Coffee. She first taught Documentary Boot Camp for FilmNorth in 2006.

Class Registration Guidelines & Cancellation Policy

  • Space is assigned on a first-come basis. Registrations must include payment in full. Registrations are accepted after registration deadlines if space is available.
  • If minimum enrollment has not been reached by 7 days prior to the start date of a class, FilmNorth may cancel it, in which case registrants will immediately be notified and receive a full refund within 2 business days. A check will be issued for registrations that were paid in cash. In lieu of a refund, students have the option of applying their tuition to another class scheduled in the same calendar year.
  • For those wishing to cancel a registration prior to the class registration deadline, 100% of the tuition will be refunded minus a $25 administrative fee. For registration cancellations received after the registration deadline but prior to the first class session, 50% of the tuition will be refunded minus a $25 administrative fee. As of 5:00 pm the day prior to a class start date, no refunds or credits/exchanges will be given (Friday at 5:00 pm for Sunday classes). 
  • Tuition is not prorated for missed class sessions.




April 8, 2019 @ 6:30 pm
April 29, 2019 @ 9:30 pm
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Melody Gilbert
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4 sessions: Mondays, April 8-29, 6:30–9:30pm