Open City Documentary Festival

Summer Film School

Aug 16 — Sep 24

In just six weeks, led by filmmakers Lucy Parker and Katharine Round, 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 a your short documentary? Our intensive, practice-led summer school led by acclaimed documentary makers Lucy Parker and Katharine Round gives you the practical, critical and theoretical skills to make your film.

In this practical 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. 

In the first three weeks, a series of practical exercises 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 best in the field through several guest lectures.

Students are guided over the final three weeks to complete their film. During this period you have access to the equipment and edit suites available at Open City Docs School at UCL. 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 via Skype. In the last week of the course students screen their rough cut and then on the last day, there is a final screening where students can share their work on the big screen.

This is an immersive course that aims to challenge participants to complete work that can start or invigorate their artistic filmmaking practice, help them find a unique voice and give 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 are required 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, 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 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 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, 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



Lucy Parker

Course Lead

Filmmaker and educator who uses conversations, archives, workshops and fictional storytelling to create films that explore connectivity between individuals and groups.

She was the recipient of the IDFA First Appearance prize in 2019 for her film Solidarity which premiered at Sheffield Doc Fest and in London at Open City. Solidarity is about the experiences of workers in the UK who were systematically denied work, including women who were tricked into intimate relationships with undercover police – the film captures their coming together to find a route to justice. She is currently participating in IDFA Project Space 2021 developing a new film about the current Undercover Policing Inquiry.

She was the 2016 filmmaker in residence at the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival. Her films are distributed by LUX Artists’ Moving Image, London. She has extensive experience in devising creative filmmaking workshops having taught in further and higher education and in community settings. She previously co-ran the BA in Filmmaking at Kingston University and has recently led filmmaking workshops at Four Corners, Bethnal Green.


Katharine Round

Guest Tutor

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.