Practical Documentary Filmmaking Foundation Certificate | Raindance


[NEW] Practical Documentary Filmmaking Foundation

(2 customer reviews)

$326.11 $293.50

With Tom Webb

Next start date: Wednesday 14th July, 19:00 – 21:30 UK time
Duration: 5 Wednesday evenings
Location: Online via Zoom

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At a glance

About the course

In this five 2.5hr course Tom Webb takes you through the fundamentals of documentary filmmaking, drawing on his extensive knowledge gained creating entertainment, corporate, short form and feature length documentaries. You will learn not only about the technical aspects for documentary making but also interviewing techniques, stylistic approaches, as well how to translate your knowledge from passion projects to paid corporate work. The course will start of looking at documentary as a genre and its relationship to an audience, from there you will learn about the shooting process, interview techniques, post production workflows and finding translatable skills that allow you to leverage your knowledge between passion projects and paid corporate work. Each class on the course will be taught via lectures, discussion and Q&A sessions.

Who should attend

This course is for anyone interested in making documentary style films. Whether you are a complete novice who is interested in getting started or whether you are an experienced videographer who wants to take the next step.

What you will Learn:

Week 1: What is Documentary filmmaking?

The term Documentary filmmaking covers a wide variety of subjects, subgenres, styles, format, techniques and unique voices. In this class  we will look at: 

  • The main styles/sub genres.
  • What makes them different?
  • What do they have in common?
  • The importance of subject to the audience.
  • The importance of subject to the filmmaker.
  • Are documentaries inherently biased?
  • The filmmakers agenda. 

You can also take this course as an individual evening.

Week 2: Subject, Style and why the equipment isn’t important except when it is. 

You have a subject, how do you turn that into a documentary? What choices do you need to make and which ones are important? In this class  we will look at:

  • How do you create a vision for your documentary? 
  • How does style communicate story?
  • Is equipment really that important?
  • Camera basics and how to pick the right camera for your documentary
  • Platforms and distribution .
  • Composition and its effect on the audience. 
  • B-roll is actually A-roll
  • Lighting: When, How and Why. 
  • Location sound and why it’s more important than the visuals

You can also take this course as an individual evening.

Week 3: Empathy or Antagonism 

Interviewing subjects can be a daunting task and technique and style changes from film to film. Understanding your subject, style and intention is key to how you approach an interview. In this class we will look at:

  • Researching and interview preparation 
  • Earning your interviewees trust. 
  • The importance of the words you use
  • Open and closed questions
  • Asking difficult questions
  • The sucker punch
  • Communicating with your crew on a shoot
  • Soundbites and how to get them

You can also take this course as an individual evening.

Week 4: Post-Production – the most daunting of tasks

This is where your documentary is made/discovered/fixed but where do you start? How do you wrestle hours and hours of footage into the perfect film? In this class we will look at:

  • Planning your workflow
  • Narrative structure and finding your story
  • Representation of your interviewees
  • Making tough decisions
  • Narrators –  The voice of God
  • Animation and motion graphics and how they can facilitate story
  • Guiding the audience with score and sound design
  • Fresh eyes and feedback

You can also take this course as an individual evening.

Week 5: passion and/or/vs profit.

Most people aren’t lucky enough to earn good money on projects they love all the time so how do you balance passion projects vs earning a living. How do you find the fun and excitement in the dullest of corporate jobs? In this lesson we will look at:

  • One for the heart one for the condo
  • You don’t have to understand the content
  • Working with clients not for clients
  • Applying existing skills to projects
  • Taking pride in your work
  • Pitch what they want AND something unexpected
  • Passion projects and doing it for the love of it
  • General discussion across the entire course

You can also take this course as an individual evening.

Recommended viewing:

It is suggested (but not essential) that participants pre-view the following documentaries:

  • Senna
  • 13
  • Bowling for Columbine
  • Tiger King
  • This is Spinal Tap
  • Frost/Nixon

Practical Documentary Filmmaking Certificate

What is Documentary Filmmaking | Subject and Style | Empathy or Antagonism | Post-Production | Passion or Profit

About your instructor

practical documentary filmmaking

Tom Webb started making short films in his early teens and his love of filmmaking continued in his career. After starting his filmmaking life re-editing American TV shows for broadcast on the Discovery Channel in the UK and filming Martial Arts and Professional Wrestling.

Tom then went on to be Head of Creative at Upbeat, a digital agency that covers video production and web development. Whilst there Tom filmed and edited everything from press junkets to film premieres, medical videos to corporate events, A-list movie stars to random people in the street. Alongside this Tom has also co hosted the Have You Seen..? Podcast,

Tom has made award winning short films, short form documentaries and a feature length documentary about the male perspective of fertility treatment The Easy Bit which premiered at Raindance in 2019. It was reviewed in The Hollywood Reporter.

Tom’s Social Media:

Personal Twitter: @TomWebbDirector | Personal Instagram: @tomwebbdirector
The Easy Bit Twitter: @theeasybitdoc | Instagram: @theeasybit | Facebook:

Ask a question about Practical Documentary Filmmaking Foundation

2 reviews for


[NEW] Practical Documentary Filmmaking Foundation

  1. Ben Elliott

    An amazing course. Tom is very knowledgable, the course is comprehensively structured. So much info delivered in a really friendly way. Great Discussions as well.


    In these difficult times keeping our creativity can sometimes be a challenge so I really enjoyed this course with Tom Webb, a very experienced tutor, who not only encourages us to focus on a project but also has a very interesting way to pass on his extensive knowlegde about documentary filmmaking. From the first idea we may have of making a documentary film to the finish product and the subsequent ideal distribution of the film itself the course explores all the stages of making an interesting film, both from a theoretical and a practical point of view. Choices need to be made regarding the type of narrative, the equipment used, the location, the sound and lighting arrangements, and the direction itself, all of this answered in the course. Should the documentary film planned include interviews then we are also explained the different methods to approach our interviewees so that the best result can be obtained. Tom Webb’s clear and well structured course is even more enjoyable as he illustrates his advice with extracts of documentaries. This definitely helps understand things better. When I saw that one of his examples was the wedding of the American legendary actor Tyrone Power to the lovely French actress Annabella quite a long time ago now I knew that Tom’s cinematographic culture was also immense and historical and that we were in good hands. Lastly Tom is also very attentive to our queries as he patiently answers our interrogations and sometimes preoccupations about delivering a quality product. As he invites us to submit our projects this is never compulsory as some of us are just at an early phase of development but should we already have something in mind then Tom patiently advises further in order for us to accomplish our dreams. I really had an excellent time and can only highly recommend the course, one of the best at Raindance.

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