Channel Zero Media Announces Sixth Documentary Filmmaking Workshop

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

The Sixth Documentary Filmmaking Workshop by Channel Zero Media is currently open for registration. The workshop will be held from August 10 to 15, 2011 in Beijing. Industry professionals, which include award-winning film and documentary writers and directors, as well as veteran television writers and producers, will lead classes in a range of topics that cover current documentary production and distribution practices.

Founded a little over a decade ago, Channel Zero Media is the first and only state-approved media company that specializes in documentary production and distribution in China. So far it has established partnerships with over 200 Chinese broadcasters, and it has supplied them with over 2000 hours of superb documentary films. Since December 2009, it has also started a new annual non-profit program called International Documentary Forum or iDOCS, which brings world-renowned documentary filmmakers to China to showcase their documentaries and discuss them with Chinese audiences. Operating under the body of Channel Zero Media and generously supported by the International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam, iDOCS is by far the largest and single most party-approved international documentary festival in China.

The First Documentary Filmmaking Workshop took place in the summer of 2006; it was then that the event organizers found out the lack of professional training among majority of Chinese documentary directors and producers and the overall underdevelopment of the domestic documentary industry. For example, one key difference that helps explain the lesser quality of Chinese documentaries has been identified as the lack of thorough field research in the pre-production stage of any documentary. Luckily, by collecting feedback from those who attend the workshop, and by creating and strengthening ties with overseas filmmakers and institutions, the workshop has been able to accommodate the evolving needs of Chinese documentary filmmakers.

For your information about this year’s workshop, here is a list introducing the courses.

  1. How to conduct field research and choose your subjects;
  2. How to draft a script for your documentary;
  3. How to write a proposal for your documentary;
  4. How to use visuals to tell a good narrative;
  5. How to apply for funding for your documentary;
  6. Introduction to the international documentary market and film festivals;
  7. Mock distribution: How to find a market for your film, what the licensing procedure is like, how to find a buyer, and how to understand audience expectations;
  8. Legal matters regarding documentary filmmaking and producing.
  9. Masterclasses with distinguished documentary filmmakers;
  10. Viewing of the latest award-winning documentaries.

As a note, British Film Editor Gigi Wong and Taiwanese Director Wen-chen Tseng will both be joining the program in August.