Shooting Documentaries

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    5 Monday evenings 7th November-5th December 2016, 7-9.30pm - Places Available

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    £150 (£135 early booking discount); £113 concessions.

Are you passionate about factual programmes? Want to explore the world of documentary filmmaking? Are you keen to develop a pitching style to get you noticed? Want to make your own films? It doesn’t matter if your interest is in documenting history, challenging a stereotype or finding the humour in everyday life. This five session documentary course is for you. Offering you value for money and a creative outlet, this course will enable you to put your ideas into action, realise your own ambitions and creative output, through documentary filmmaking.

Who it is aimed at?

This course is aimed at people who want to produce their own documentaries. It will give you the tools, techniques and knowledge required to research, develop, schedule and plan a short documentary.

This course is aimed at new and developing filmmakers who have already dome some practical training (ideally the Shooting Video Course), and/or people who have worked as production assistance,
journalist, editor, in other disciplines. Those who have little or no experience should do one of the beginners courses.

For people who:

  • Want to improve and enhance their documentary skills
  • Are passionate to tell factual stories and get diverse concepts across
  • Want to rise to the challenge of producing low budget documentary
  • Have aspiration to take the first step towards getting into factual TV and/or making  feature documentaries
  • Ambition to develop non-broadcast work such as corporate productions
  • Desire to use digital video as a tool to communicate their work or service

What can you expect to do on the course?

Over the first four evenings you will take part in developing your skills in documentary production, from a basic idea to a fully developed pre- production plan. (So you’ll be ready for you to take it into production.)

Through the skills shared and developed in the sessions, you will realise your ideas, explore and take part in pitching and cover all aspects of research; such as finding interviewees, find and recce your locations, producing schedules and budgets, finding a crew (or identifying what skills you need to develop) and preparing shooting script.

On the fifth and final class you will get a 45min tutorial with tutor to discuss your future plans. (If all students can’t be fitted in that day they may take place the following week instead)

During the course there will be time to realize your ideas, explore the
equipment you might wish to use, style of shooting and approaches to
your final documentary. (Students must have had previous practical
training or experience in camera techniques, email us if in doubt).


What will you produce?

You will produce a 3 – 6 minute idea and plan for a documentary, which you will have the option of going on to make.

This will be produced through, developing and writing a draft, feedback, exchanging of information during the class. The film will be on a local subject or local protagonists.

Students will have the option of taking this into production at the end of the course. Those wishing to do so will have the opportunity of hiring Film Oxford production kit (for an additional fee) or using their own equipment. Students can also purchase an additional tutorial with tutor to get feedback on rushes or rough cut.

Oxford – The Documentary City

Oxford is a Documentary City, as well as being home to many award-wining documentary filmmakers, (including a Sundance Documentary feature winner), it also has a large international documentary Film Festival OXDOX (which in the past has shown work made by Film Oxford learners), as well as a thriving film  TV industry, with many small documentary companies based in the city and county making programmes for BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky. Many have reported to us the lack of local skills, so forcing them to seek crew and production staff from outside the County. This course is a chance to make the next step in developing your documentary skills and improve your employment prospects.



Course Tutors Filmmaker Sharon Woodward

Sharon Woodward – Is an independent award winning filmmaker with a passion for documentary and a keen interest in history and heritage. She trained at The National Film and Television School, Newport Film School and in the BBC.

She produces factual content for non-profit organizations,  local government, SME’s, NHS and others. Sharon has also taught filmmaking for over 20 years. She is a member of the Institute For Learning and BECTU. Further information Sharon Woodward


Oxford Boxing Academy


£135 (includes 10% early booking discount if you book by 23rd October)

£150 Full Price 

£113 Discount for NUS students and people on following means tested benefits, proof required: NUS card; ESA (income related); Income Support; Working Tax Credit (not child tax credit); Council Tax Benefit (not student/single person/reduction due to disability); Housing Benefit; Pension Credit (guarantee); Unwaged Dependent of these benefits.

All Film Oxford Courses are subsidised by Oxfordshire Skills and Learning Service



MH “The course was superb, the tutor was wonderful and Film Oxford was the RIGHT PLACE”

SG “The tutor was experienced, intelligent and approachable – very good at keeping us interested”

ZK “Great knowledge and very friendly style of teaching. Inspiring!”

SW “Fantastic, the tutor’s intervention to help you really make it happen comes shining through”

Carolina – “I had the pleasure of having Sharon as my teacher in Film Oxford on the Documentaries’ course. Her years of experience and her passion for film making were very inspirational. She understands all the difficulties of the process from start to finish, that’s why she is so open to help you develop your ideas and support you along the way. At the end of the course felt I could count on her for future guidance as she is so giving when it comes to encourage the vision of others and their projects”


Course Outline

Monday evenings 7.00 pm-9.30 pm for 5 weeks

Week 1:

Introductions and course outline and aims -what students will achieve by the end of the course. (Producing treatment, scheduling, planning shoot, people to be in your film/ getting interviewees, finding your crew, locations, planning post-production etc). What students can and can’t do on the course (practical considerations).

Look at defining documentary, styles and genre (background – stimulate ideas)

Introduction to producing an outline:

The importance of the ‘Pitch’, and do’s and don’ts to remember, giving an effective Pitch and leaving an impression.

OUTSIDE CLASS – write a short outline for a local documentary idea. In addition come with a prepared practice ‘pitch’ which students will give the following week.


Week 2:

Pitch session – feedback on idea and the feasibility of the film.

Challenging your comfort zones –You need to be creative genius, a brilliant organiser and technical wizard to make a film, what are your strengths and weakness? Learning new skills verses finding collaborators and technical crew.

Next steps with your researching and writing a treatment. What is film about, who is in it, what will they say, where will it be shot and what will be the visual content. DVD’s of all handouts and paperwork will be given out to students.

OUTSIDE CLASS – begin your research; find a protagonist or at least one interviewee and write a first draft treatment. These are to be emailed to tutor and other students by Sunday pm at latest. Students to read other people work before the class and make notes of feedback they will give.


Week 3:

Students present their draft treatments and get feedback from tutor and classmates.

Interview technique, setting up your interview, techniques, do’s and don’ts.

Practical interview exercise.

Advice on producing second draft, more on visual content, getting enough cutaways planned, use of archive etc

OUTSIDE CLASS – Produce second draft.


Easter Break (course work)


 Week 4:

Feedback on 2nd draft.

Recce’s/location assessment

Shooting schedule


Health and safely

Release forms


Career options


Week 5:  Tutorials (Slots to be arranged)

Each student gets a 45 minute tutorial to discuss with tutorial their individual development. (Times arranged with tutor in WEEK4, if not all students can be fitted into 7.00-9.30pm they will be rescheduled to slots outside those times, the next day or the following week – by agreement.)

AFTER COURSE – liase with Film Oxford for production kit hire at access rate  and/or contact if you’d like to book additional tutorial(s) for after the shoot – for an additional fee.

Photos –  production stills from documentaries made by Sharon Woodward, or from documentaries made at Film Oxford

Answers to the most frequently asked questions, can be found on our FAQ page, otherwise please email

This is one of our adult training courses so please note that participants need to be sixteen years and above, for information about all of our youth activities see Youth page

  • Contact

    54 Catherine St, Oxford, OX4 3AH
    Tel: 01865 792731 Email:

    Registered Charity Number: 1041014
    Film Oxford is supported by Oxford City Council

    Oxford Film & Video Makers Ltd, trading as Film Oxford, is a company limited by guarantee.
    Registered in England No 02022892

  • Supported by

    Oxford City  Council
    BFI Film Academy UK Network
    Arts Council of England