Open City Documentary Festival

Online Summer Film School: Introduction (Online)

Aug 3 — Aug 14

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

Note: This course will be delivered via online distance learning, and has been created with this situation in mind. Students are required to have access to a smartphone or other camera, their own computer or other internet connected device to take part. 

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

Our online summer school invites students to embrace restrictions and gives you the practical, critical and theoretical skills to make a film. You may think that the current situation means that films can’t be made, yet since the invention of cinema, non-fiction filmmakers have worked with ‘limitations’, out of choice as well as circumstance.

Over two weeks, a series of workshops and practical exercises will introduce students to principles of documentary filmmaking – how to refine an idea and find simple concepts to bring the complex to life. We will think positively about limitations, and learn from a range of works where filmmakers have either self-imposed restrictions for creative reasons, or had them enforced through budget, access or situation. These works often reach new heights of formal inventiveness which students will be encouraged to apply to their own ideas.

Alongside this, there will be a practical workshops covering shooting, editing and working with sound.

By the end of the course, students will be equipped with the practical and conceptual knowledge to start work on their own short film project. It is intended as a foundation course to prepare students for making a film with the advanced online summer school or as part of their independent practice.

This course is delivered via Zoom and the commitment is three afternoon sessions each week, between 2-5pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Students are required to have access to a laptop with Premiere Pro software installed,  and a smartphone (or other camera).

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.