24 July 2017

Craft in focus: Why now is the time to study documentary filmmaking

By Danny Kelly | Categorised in Breaking News, Industry Interviews

Documentary is having a moment. Long gone are the days of formulaic factual content. Today, the likes of VICE, BBC Three, HBO and the Guardian rule the roost; celebrated for their topical, hard-hitting and street-smart reporting, aimed towards a new generation of engaged and conscious viewers. Cinema too has upped its game, with distributor Dogwoof releasing a run of groundbreaking documentary features over recent years. We may live in unsettled times, but at least it seems the revolution will, in fact, be televised.

So what has changed? Why is documentary flourishing like never before? For documentary filmmaker and MetFilm School tutor Jerry Rothwell (Sour Grapes, How to Change the World), the proliferation of viewing platforms plays a vital role. News sources, broadcasters, blogs, independent creatives and VOD platforms have all embraced changing viewing habits, ushering in what he calls “a new wave of challenging, brave and format busting films which interrogate our turbulent times.” Furthermore, the low cost of good quality production equipment means that it’s relatively affordable for broadcasters, or people, to start making content. As Jerry suggests, “such accessibility has been beneficial in allowing emerging filmmakers the freedom to experiment and find their voice.” 

Another obvious explanation for the rise of documentary is that, quite simply, there is a lot to talk about. As MetFilm School tutor Jesse Quinones notes, “the world is in a volatile and unpredictable state” and “politically, financially, racially and religiously, these are strange, turbulent, and exciting times.” Add to this the context of ‘fake news’, government mistrust and societal dissatisfaction, and it’s easy to see why many are using the medium to ask questions and get their voices heard. 

Whether you are a filmmaking graduate, videographer, journalist, or savvy activist – there has never been a more exciting time to enter the world of documentary.

MA Documentary & Factual @ MetFilm School

At MetFilm School, we’re pleased to offer a handful of documentary courses – including our MA Documentary & Factual. Here are four reasons why our full-time postgraduate course could be your suited route into the industry…

1. Gain practical experience
Anyone familiar with MetFilm School will know that our courses are very hands-on, and this one is no exception. Documentary tutor Jesse Quinones notes that the MA offers “plenty of opportunities to develop, shoot, and edit documentaries via a range of exercises and projects”, while crucially embracing a “healthy amount of theory throughout, which will ground the content in a clear and comprehensive understanding of the form.” 

2. Network with industry
In addition to the experienced professional tutors we have, leading modules, we also welcome a long list of guest speakers to the School, offering relevant and timely insight into their careers and the industry at large. These include commissioning editors, financiers, filmmakers, producers, broadcasters, festival directors and recruiters.  Students will also work alongside our award-winning production facility – MetFilm Production – known for its critically acclaimed documentaries Sour Grapes and the 2016 Grierson Trust winner, How To Change the World

3. Learn the business
You may have a strong idea for documentary and factual content, but how do you get it in front of an audience? Students will build an understanding of the industry landscape, discovering the ins and outs of commissioning, financing, distribution and exhibition, marketing campaigns and the emerging world of interactive and transmedia digital content. These ideas are put into practice with real experience, including analysing case studies, attending festivals, and pitching to industry professionals. You will leave with a keen eye for what sells, and how to sell it.

4. Build a portfolio
On graduating, we want our students to be able to hit the ground running and immediately stand out to employers. Graduates will leave the course with a strong portfolio of work, including two core projects (documentary and/or factual programmes) accompanied by creative development and pitch documents, a promo teaser trailer, an industry project created specifically for an external client and a series of creative exercises.


Find out more about our MA Documentary & Factual course.
To speak with a member of the Admissions team, call +44  20 8280 9119 or e-mail info@metfilmschool.co.uk.