Open City Documentary Festival

Online Summer Film School: Advanced Techniques (Online)

Aug 17 — Aug 28

Learn how to make a film, in any circumstance, wherever you are in the world with this specially-designed summer school over 2 weeks. 

This course will be delivered via online distance learning, and has been created with this situation in mind. Students on this course should have a basic working knowledge of Premiere Pro, have access to a smartphone (or other camera), and their own computer which is able to run Premiere Pro. If you have any questions about requirements and suitability please feel free to contact us. 

For experienced practitioners, or those who have already taken the introductory course, learn how to refine your ideas and make a short non-fiction film, in any circumstance, wherever you are in the world. 

The advanced summer school builds on the foundation set in our introductory course, which explores principles of documentary filmmaking and how non-fiction filmmakers work with limitations to refine and focus an idea, finding simple concepts to bring the complex to life.

Over two weeks, you will complete your own 2-5 minute self-shot documentary from start to finish, with encouragement and support to discover and express your own response to the world around you. A series of workshops, screenings and group discussions introduce students to a range of works and conceptual approaches including poetic non-fiction, filming the self, the diary and the essay film.

Practical workshops delve further into the craft of editing and advanced sound design techniques that are accessible to all.

This course will challenge your ideas about what non-fiction can be, help you embrace restrictions and learn how to focus your ideas so they are realisable, formally inventive and unique.

This course is delivered via Zoom and the commitment is three afternoon sessions each week, between 2-5pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A watch list of films is provided in advance.

Image: The Beaches of Agnes (2008, Agnes Varda)

Testimonials (for the UCL based Summer Film School 2018/2019):

“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, Summer Film School 2019

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 a new perspectives on filmmaking and on life itself. If it’s not already obvious, I can’t recommend this course highly enough.” – Amy Ryles, Summer Film School 2018

“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, Summer Film School 2018

“The course was a fantastic experience. There are few courses out there which dedicate this much time to preparing you technically but with also understanding how to consider narrative and character development. Each lesson we were set 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, Summer Film School 2018

“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, Summer Film School 2018

If you have any enquiries regarding this course please contact or please call 0203 1086696



Katharine Round

Course Leader

Katharine Round makes creative documentaries for broadcast & cinema exploring the essence of being human with warmth and humour. Her work is variously described as "tender and evocative" and “poignant and viscerally enraging”.

In 2016, she directed and produced the critically-acclaimed The Divide which had a successful theatrical release across the UK, followed by a US/UK release on Netflix. In 2017, she produced London Symphony, nominated for the Michael Powell Award at Edinburgh International Film Festival before a successful UK theatrical release including 3 special event performances with a live orchestra supported by Arts Council England, and a VOD release on BFI Player. She is currently working on a trilogy of films with support from EU MEDIA.

She has made films for the BBC and Channel 4, exhibited at leading international film festivals (including Sheffield Doc/Fest, IDFA ,CPH: DOX & Cork Film Festival), in galleries (the Serpentine, the Barbican Centre, V&A) and at the European Parliament in Brussels. Alongside Open City, Katharine has been a guest tutor and speaker at Sheffield Doc/Fest, BAFTA, Royal Holloway and the Roundhouse, amongst others. She is the co-founder of documentary filmmakers organisation Doc Heads, supporting documentary through curated events and screenings, with a focus on independent artistic work.


Marc Isaacs

Guest Tutor

Since his debut film, Lift (2001), Isaacs has made more than fifteen creative documentaries. His films include Calais - The Last Border, All White In Barking and Men of the City made for broadcasters such as the BBC, Arte and channel 4. His works have won Grierson, Royal Television Society and BAFTA awards as well as numerous international film festival prizes. In 2006, Marc had a retrospective at the prestigious Lussas Documentary film festival in France and his work has been included in numerous documentary books and academic studies. In 2008, Marc received an honorary doctorate from the University of East London for his documentary work. Marc is a guest tutor at numerous universities and film schools in the UK and overseas. In 2017, he produced his first video installation work, Out of Time, and in 2018 his complete film works was released by Second Run DVD along with an accompanying book.