Open City Documentary Festival

Summer Film School

Jul 18 — Aug 26
6 weeks full-time (see schedule below)

In just six weeks, led by filmmakers Katharine Round and Grant Gee, students can build the technical and analytical skills needed to complete their own documentary film project.

Want to make a documentary but don’t know where to start? Or do you have experience, but want hands-on guidance through the process of making your short documentary? Our intensive, practice-led summer school led by acclaimed documentary makers Katharine Round and Grant Gee gives you the practical, critical and theoretical skills to make your film.

In this immersive, London-based course, you will complete a 5-10 minute self-shot documentary from start to finish. You will be encouraged and supported to discover and express your own response to the world around you, explore authorship, form, character, emotion, and much more.

For the first three weeks the course is full-time face-to-face teaching Monday to Friday. You will go through a series of practical exercises to build the technical and analytical skills needed to complete a documentary film project: to produce, direct, shoot and edit. In addition, we look at the art of filmmaking and students have the chance to learn from some of the most respected names in the industry through several guest lectures.

Once outfitted with the skills they need, participants will go out and make their film with professional camera and sound equipment, provided for the duration of the course. Students will also benefit from access to UCL’s advanced editing suites. The required commitment following the core course teaching is two one-on-one meetings in weeks four and five with the course tutors to support the making of your film. These meetings can be done in person or remotely. In the last week of the course students screen their rough cut. Finally, on the last day there is a screening where students can share their work on the big screen.

Through the Summer Film School, students will be challenged to experiment with their voice and to start or invigorate their artistic filmmaking practice while receiving structure and support to guide them through completing a project. Previous students have described the course as “a life changing experience” and “one of the best things I’ve ever done”.

Students will be provided with camera and sound equipment for the duration of the course. Please note that students will need to bring two external hard-drives with them.


“If I learned one thing then that it is a long way from a topic to an engaging film – the tutors provide you with everything you need to take on this challenge, and to create your best possible film and experience!“ – Regine Brandtner

This course is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It was an immersive, challenging and enlivening experience. Katharine encouraged (and pushed!) me to make a film I never imagined I’d have either the technical skills or courage to make. The deeply personal process of making it – and watching the heartfelt films my peers made – gave me new perspectives on filmmaking and on life itself. If it’s not already obvious, I can’t recommend this course highly enough.” – Amy Ryles

“The UCL Summer School helped me understand in depth how documentaries are made and think like a documentary filmmaker. The course was really great, the teaching was outstanding and the friendships I made long lasting. This six weeks program felt like a mini MA in documentary filmmaking. I gained lots of confidence, it kick-started my freelance career and now I’m collaborating on a short documentary with a fellow student that I met in the course. I cannot recommend this program highly enough as it’s a life changing experience.“ – Anthony Barlos

“The course was a fantastic experience. There are few courses out there which dedicate this much time to preparing you technically but also understanding how to consider narrative and character development. Each lesson we were given tasks to build up our technical skills and approach to filmmaking. We had to get stuck in straight away and it was the best way to learn. The course gives you a rounded experience, it prepares you in production, filming, sound, editing – each skill makes you better at the other. Katharine and her guest tutors were encouraging and really cared about helping you develop and gain confidence.” – Helen Waddell

“The Summer School was genuinely transformational: as a very ‘thinky’ person it allowed me to express a more intuitive, artistic side of myself; it gave the know-how to be able to independently make my own short films; and it has led me to seriously consider pursuing documentary film-making on a longer term basis” – Andrew Brown

If you have any enquiries regarding this course please contact or call +442031084774.



Katharine Round

Course Leader

Katharine Round has over twenty years experience in creative documentary for broadcast & cinema. Her work is described as "tender and evocative" and “poignant and viscerally enraging", and aims to challenge the idea of documentary in all its forms.

In 2016, she directed the critically-acclaimed “The Divide”, hailed as “fierce and unsettling” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian) and “timely, emotionally-shattering, formidable” (Picturehouse Cinemas). The film had a successful theatrical release across the UK including Picturehouse and Curzon sites, followed by a US/UK release on Netflix. In 2017, she produced "London Symphony", called "a seductive parade of striking images" (Sight & Sound). It was nominated for the Michael Powell Award at Edinburgh International Film Festival before a successful UK theatrical release including 3 special events across London performed with a live orchestra supported by Arts Council England, and a release on BFI Player.

She has also made films for the BBC, Channel 4 & Discovery, the V&A, Al Jazeera and the Guardian, as well as new platforms. She has had work exhibited at leading international film festivals (including Sheffield Doc/Fest, IDFA, Open City & Cork Film Festival), in galleries (the Serpentine, the Barbican Centre) and at the European Parliament in Brussels.
In 2016, she directed the critically-acclaimed “The Divide”, a feature-length film on the psychological impact of income inequality, inspired by the book ‘The Spirit Level’. Called “fierce and unsettling” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian), “jaw-dropping” (The Express), “timely, emotionally-shattering, formidable” (Picturehouse Cinemas), and “brilliantly-shot, insightful” (British Blacklist) the film had a successful theatric release across the UK including Picturehouse and Curzon sites, followed by a US/UK release on Netflix. She has also made films for the BBC, Channel 4 & Discovery as well as new platforms. She has had work exhibited at leading international film festivals (including Sheffield Doc/Fest, IDFA & Cork Film Festival), in galleries (the Serpentine, the Barbican Centre) and at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Katharine is also an accomplished producer, devising new models of finance and managing complex international shoots. She is the line producer for all of Disobedient’s productions and regularly gives masterclasses on film production to organisations such as Sheffield Doc/Fest, BAFTA, Four Corners Film and the Roundhouse. She is the co-founder of leading professional documentary filmmakers organisation Doc Heads, supporting documentary through curated events, masterclasses and commissioning opportunities.


Grant Gee

Guest Tutor

Grant Gee is a filmmaker from Brighton, England.

His most recent film "The Gold Machine", with writer Iain Sinclair debuts on Mubi in September 2022 and completes a trilogy of acclaimed, internationally distributed feature-documentaries about landscape and literature which began in 2012 with "Patience (After Sebald)" and continued with "Innocence of Memories," (based on the work of and with original narration by Nobel Laureate, Orhan Pamuk).

His documentary "Joy Division," premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, and won the Grierson award 2008 for Best Cinema Documentary and the Mojo Vision Award 2009, CPH:DOX festival’s (Copenhagen) Sound and Vision award for Best Music Film (2008) and the Audience Awards for Best Film at both Gdansk and ‘In-Edit’ Barcelona (also 2008).

Also in 2007, his film "The Western Lands," a portrait of climber/writer Jim Perrin’s climb of The Old Man of Hoy, won best short film at the Banff Film Festival.

In a previous life he directed many many music videos including the iconic clip for Radiohead’s "No Surprises" as well as the notoriously bad-tempered, 500,000 DVD-selling film "Meeting People is Easy" about the band.

He is currently developing, with Irish Film Board and BFI support, a drama feature, "Intermission" (with Hot Property Films and writer Mark O'Halloran) about the jazz musician Bill Evans.