The Art of Documentary Storytelling

LevelSuitable for all levels
Dates & TimesSaturday 6 & 7 August 2016 (10.00am - 5.00pm)
Contact Hours14
Fee$415 Open Channel Members / $495 Non-Members (inc GST)
Not a member? Sign up here
LocationOpen Channel, 476 Docklands Drive, Docklands VIC 3008
How to apply?Applications for this workshop have now closed.
Please register your interest to be notified when the next course is scheduled to run.


Developing or making a documentary? You need to know what lies at the heart of great non-fiction filmmaking!

Open Channel is delighted to present this opportunity to learn about the art of documentary storytelling and directing under the guidance of double Emmy award winning Director Geoffrey Smith (The English Surgeon, Presumed Guilty).

In this intensive 2 day course you’ll explore the many facets to creating and writing a documentary film, including what stories work and why, the director’s relationship to the subject relationship, and the moral contract with your audience and contributors to the film.

Learn to embed practical narrative film writing techniques, work with multiple story lines and inter-cutting, how to develop a character onscreen, and the importance of the controlling idea.

With plenty of real film examples, you’ll also explore film craft, interviewing skills, how to get the most from your crew, the use of music, the craft of the edit, and what makes a scene work.

And you will learn how to save a lot of money on your next (or first) film.

In the final session of the course there will be an option to present your own idea and to have Geoffrey and other filmmakers in the course workshop  your project with you in light of what you have just learnt. A great opportunity for your project.

For a more comprehensive outline of what you can expect on the course and to find out more about Geoffrey, please see our recent interview with Geoffrey Smith


The course is suitable for those who know little about documentary, through to those who have made films and are working in the industry. If you have a project you thinking of or are actively developing, please bring it along as we will discuss your idea and work to improve it.


Click here to download a pdf course outline of the two-day workshop.


Click here to apply.

View our terms and conditions.

Interstate course applicants: Please await course confirmation prior to booking flights and accommodation.


Geoffrey Smith Documentary FilmmakerGeoffrey Smith has been making documentaries for over 22 years. He started out with a highly personal film about going back to find the man who shot him in Haiti during an election massacre (shown on the BBC’s now famous “Video Diary” slot), and then went on make over 20 films for all the major UK broadcasters. His last two feature documentaries have both won Emmy awards, have over thirty major international prizes between them, had successful cinema runs and have been sold to a large number of countries.
Geoffrey has taught Directing masterclasses all over the world, was at tutor at the IDFA Summer school in Amsterdam, been an editorial consultant on a variety of feature documentaries at all stages of production, and helped many filmmakers from a number of different countries with their projects.

Geoffrey Smith on IMDB


“Loved brainstorming ideas at the end”

“Geoffrey has a wealth of knowledge and an easily digestible way to share it”

“Bite size take away messages show not tell”

“It gave me practical tips that have helped me solve a few problems”


Daniel Schultheis
t. 03 8327 2009