Documentary Filmmaking Course Overview

This summer, why don't you come to Ishinomaki and make a film with us?

Course Objectives

A 14 day intensive course that covers the basics of video and audio production with professional equipment, followed by training in high level production techniques taught by industry professionals. The focus will be on getting you out in the field and using the equipment in real world situations so when it comes time to shoot your own film you are confident with your skills and you can focus on the art.


Participants will break up into 3-4 person crews and produce a documentary short that will be shown that the Ishinomaki International Film Festival on July 29th, 2017. 


Introductory Classes:3 Weekends:7/1-2、 7/8-9、 7/15-16 Learning how to use the equipment and editing workstations, work in teams to shoot interviews, video images and record audio soundscapes.

Intermediate Classes and film production :7/22-29(During this period, crews will have access to equipment and editing workstations)

Screening:Completed films will be introduced and screened at the Ishinomaki International Film Festival on July 29th, 2017. 

Special Seminars:During the course, in the evenings, there will be special seminars by industry professionals that are also open to the general public. 

Course Participants:9- 12 people

Course term:14 days



98,000 yen (includes courseware, special seminars, equipment usage(Does not include food, lodging or transportation)

Please fill in the online application form to be considered for a slot in this course. 


Tuition waved for select students. Please fill out the online application form to be considered for a tuition waver. 


Instructors are professional camera operators, sound recordists, editors, directors and producers with documentary film making experience. 

Conditions for Participation

Course participants can be anyone who is interested in video, sound, news reporting or documentary filmmaking. Participants do not need production experience but experience using cameras, microphones, video editing software, basic computer skills and a strong desire to tell stories is required.


Age limit:None! We welcome people of all ages!


Apply here.

Course Outline

1. What is documentary filmmaking? Watch examples of different kinds of documentary films and learn how they were produced. Discuss the pros and cons of various filmmaking styles.


2. Video : Learn the basics of professional video cameras from hands on experience and feedback from instructors. We will break into teams and shoot real world scenarios provided by instructors. We will watch the video that you shoot in the main classroom and you will receive feedback and input from other participants. The process of sharing feedback with your team in a constructive manner is an important element of filmmaking. You will also learn about the various types of cameras that can be used for film production and their advantages and disadvantages. 


3. Audio:Learn about the different types of microphones and their various uses. Learn how to place and hide a lav mic without picking up clothing noise, learn boom mic techniques and setting up and using camera mics. We will be using separate audio recorders that will be synced to the video tracks in the editing software. We will also be recording stereo ambience and sound effects. 


4. Lighting : Documentary filmmaking can be fast-paced and in less than ideal conditions for proper lighting. We will cover the basic concepts of lighting and the use of simple lighting and available light to greatly improve the quality of your images. 


5. Interviewing ; The quality of your interview can make or break your film. Most documentaries are driven by the voices of the main characters so it is important to chose your interview locations carefully, place the cameras correctly, be aware of interviewer's eyeline, pay attention to pace and timing and most importantly, create an atmosphere that makes the interviewer feel comfortable. We will shoot many practice interviews in various locations during this course.


6. Media Management and Editing : Documentary film projects involve many type of files and media. You will learn how to manage all your data, file naming conventions, backup, add your data to editing software, syncing audio and multiple video files, creating timelines and arranging your media in a compelling way to tell your story effectively. We will learn editing skills on actual content that you and your team shoot. 


7. Directing and Producing : Learn the distinction between directing and producing and the various roles the director and producer are responsible for. On small projects, often these jobs are shared among the team. We will learn the skills that directors and producers need to make projects successful. 


8. Finding the Story : Deciding which story to tell, finding your main character(s), communicating with your characters the story you wish to tell and getting them to agree to be in your film. Once you have found your story then you can work with your team to plan shooting locations, interviews, decide on the roles that each of you will take during the project and then get to work. 


9. Special Video:Shooting interesting and compelling video adds impact to the story you are telling. You will learn about some different tools for shooting video that is different than just shooting with a standard camera on a tripod. You will be able to work with a drone, Gopro cameras, car mounts and camera sliders to give your images movement and a different perspective. For the drone shoots, you will direct a licensed drone operator to shoot the shots that you need for your film. 


10. Promotion and Festivals : Learn how to promote your film, create a homepage, press kit and how to make press releases. You will also learn how to send your film to film festivals. 

What you will take away from this course

 1. Increase your technical knowledge and creativity

 2. Learn how to use professional cameras, audio recorders, lights, video editing software, audio editing software, homepage creation and promotional writing

 3. A first hand experience of how the power of film can change people's hearts

 4. Strong connections with people with shared interests from different locations and backgrounds

 5. Self confidence from expressing something that you feel is important to you.

 6. The indispensable skills you need for video production : project management, production methods, filming techniques, communication skills, promotional skills...

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Support  ご支援

Payments can be made by PayPal ( or bank transfer. Please see here for the rewards we have prepared for different levels of sponsorship. We hope you find something interesting. Please include the name of the award in an email if you make a bank transfer (information below).


PayPal and Credit Card sponsorship payments can be sent using the buttons below. 



Rewards 3,000 - 100,000 JPY
Rewards 150,000 - 1,000,000 JPY

口座名義:Ishinomaki Film 代表 Jousan Jeffrey Mike

Joyo Bank 常陽銀行

Branch: Tsukuba City Hall Branchつくば市役所支店

Account Number口座番号: 1079059

Branch Number支店番号: 176

Bank Code銀行コード : 0130


Tel: 029-855-8728