Open City Documentary Festival

7 – 13 September 2022
in London

Directing Documentaries for Broadcast & Theatrical Release (In-person)

Price £150

Location Open City Docs, 4th Floor, 40 Bernard Street, London, WC1N 1LE, Duration Monday evenings across 4 weeks 7-9pm UK time, Dates  Mar 6 — Mar 27

A practical course aimed at producers hoping to make the move into directing or filmmakers looking to make documentaries for television or theatrical release.

Drawing from her own experience of making award-winning documentaries, with lots of real-life examples, course leader Katie Buchanan will give wannabe directors the knowhow and confidence they need to approach making their first film.

Students will learn about every stage of making a film from coming up with the initial idea to problem-solving in the edit. Over the course of 4 weeks, they will also develop and workshop their own ideas and shoot and edit footage which they will share with the group.


Session 1

How to market yourself as a director. Making your cv work for you. Bring your own cv to workshop.

Coming up with ideas and researching them. Tips on casting and negotiating access.

How to pitch. Pitching your idea to the group.

Homework – shoot some footage showing a central character for your idea.


Session 2

Feedback on your footage.

What is your story? The importance of narrative in documentaries and how to build it.

Treatments and tasters. The inside track on how successful commissions were built.

Homework – write a treatment for your idea.


Session 3

Feedback on your treatments.

Thinking like a director. What is your stylistic approach? Is it authored or observational, unfolding or retrospective?

How to approach your shoots to make sure you get the most out of them.

Homework – shoot and cut some footage to illustrate your idea.


Session 4

Workshop and feedback on your footage.

Storytelling in the edit. The importance of preparation.

Troubleshooting and problem-solving. How to get yourself out of tricky places.


This course takes place across 4 Monday evenings (7pm to 9pm) from 6th to 27th March.

1x Universal Credit bursary place is available for this course. Please see our bursary policy.

Booking closes at 12pm on Friday 3rd March.

If you’d like to be notified about this course’s future running dates, please fill in this quick form. If you have any questions about the course, get in touch with



Katie Buchanan

Course Tutor

Throughout a 25 career, Katie has worked to the highest editorial standards, exec producing doc series and feature-length docs often with complex access and duty of care requirements. Her films have won numerous awards including Grierson, RTS and Broadcast Awards.

Key credits include Grierson, RTS and Broadcast Best Documentary Series winner ‘The Romanians are Coming’, Broadcast nominated ‘Whatever Happened to Tony Slattery?’ and Grierson shortlisted ‘2020:The Story of Us’ with double Academy Award winner Kevin MacDonald.

Katie has worked with many emerging directors. She exec produced nine First Cut’s for C4 and currently teaches at the National Film and Television School. In 2021 Katie founded Big Sister Films, a female-focussed production company and is developing a slate of premium documentaries.