A Practical Guide to Self-Shooting Documentary

Applications Open!

A Practical Guide to Self-Shooting Documentary

Tue, 30 Nov 2021 to Sat, 4 Dec 2021

Duration: 5 days
Times: 10am-6pm
Capacity: Max. 8 participants
Fee: £1000 *Fee includes equipment hire.

Do you know how to shoot but never quite get the results you are looking for? Are your shooting skills rusty? Do you need more confidence when shooting?

Do your rushes always cut together perfectly in the edit? Do you know how to shoot a scene as it happens in front of you to get good coverage? Do you always shoot the right material to tell the story?

Are you a self-taught self-shooter and want to consolidate your doc skills? Are you confident setting up static shots but less so when shooting handheld? Do you work in another field and are making the transition into factual filmmaking?

In this intensive 5-day workshop, award-winning filmmaker Zillah Bowes will help you take your documentary self-shooting to the next level. The workshop will be based on a series of enjoyable, practical exercises at LFS and in the local area in Covent Garden. You will be encouraged to stretch yourself in a collaborative, positive environment and will receive plenty of feedback on your progress.

Zillah pic

The workshop features:

  • Technical training in camera and sound.
  • Practical, exercise-based learning.
  • Camera and sound equipment provided for participants’ use.
  • Creative approach to self-shooting.
  • Emphasis on storytelling.
  • Setting up tripod-based interviews.
  • Shooting extra material to enhance interviews.
  • Shooting an observational scene handheld.
  • Following dialogue handheld.
  • Informal interviewing in a scene.
  • Individual and immediate feedback on exercises. 
Equipment will be allocated to participants in pairs, with each kit expected to contain:
  • Camera / Lens (TBC)
  • Sennheiser EW100 G3 Radio Mic
  • Sennheiser / Sony Directional Top Mic with Camera Mount
  • Fluid Head Tripod 

Each participant will receive a copy of their edited course exercises in the weeks following the course.

"Before this workshop I was afraid of using my camera. I didn't know how or where to start with it and didn't have the confidence to get out there, but after the exercises and Zillah's advice and encouragement, I have." Rosie Morris, participant May 2014. Read full testimonial

Course Schedule:

Day One

  • Shooting better images/sound – technical demystification!
  • Holding the camera and handheld operating.
  • Practical exercises.

Days Two and Three

  • What is observational shooting and why is it so hard?
  • Access and building relationships.
  • Shooting things that change & don’t change, people talking and scenes.
  • Practical exercises, feedback and Q&A.

Day Four

  • Should I just turn up?! Prepping and setting up an interview.
  • Using the tripod.
  • Shooting extra material to tell your story.
  • Practical exercises, feedback and Q&A.

Day Five

  • What could I have shot? Editing observational and interview sequences (demo on Premier Pro).
  • Summary, extended Q&A and close of workshop.

"Zillah is an excellent teacher and the workshop was perfectly designed. It showed me the areas I need to improve on and the ways I could improve. I feel inspired to continue practising now, rather than being fearful of filming something ugly. The focus on story and being mindful and respectful of the subject rather than taking a utilitarian perspective, was refreshingly human in an industry that can be exploitative. In all Zillah's passion and integrity shines through, complimenting her no nonsense practical approach." Participant 2019

Tutor profile: Zillah Bowes, Writer, Director

Zillah is a Welsh/English writer, director and photographer. Her fiction film STAYING (AROS MAE) won the Grand Jury Prize at Premiers Plans Angers Film Festival and Special Mention at Encounters Film Festival in 2021, and has screened internationally including Palm Springs ShortFest.

Her latest film ALLOWED, based on her award-winning lockdown photos, premiered at Edinburgh International Film Festival and was shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Visual Art Prize in 2021. She won a John Brabourne Award from the Film and TV Charity in 2020.

Zillah trained at the NFTS before working as a cinematographer, then as a director. Her debut as a director SMALL PROTESTS was nominated for a Grierson Award and won the Current Short Cuts Vimeo Award and Best Short Documentary at the London Independent Film Festival. As a cinematographer, her feature films include ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS, which won the World Cinema Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival.

She has won the Wordsworth Trust Prize, a Creative Wales Award and a Literature Matters Award from the Royal Society of Literature. Her solo exhibition GREEN DARK, supported by Ffotogallery and the Arts Council of Wales, opened in 2021. Zillah has taught at the NFTS and several other institutions as well as the LFS.