New York Film Academy
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New York Film Academy Documentary

Hands-on 6-Week Documentary Workshop

Two New York Film Academy documentary filmmaking students set up a shot together near a soccer goal. New York Film Academy documentary filmmaking student behind her Canon surrounded by children with drumsticks. New York Film Academy documentary filmmaking students film a man in a suit in a train car.

Hands-on 6-Week Documentary Workshop


New York Film Academy offers a hands-on 6-week documentary workshop. . This is an intensive program that combines in-class instruction and hands-on production workshops. Learn to master the craft and put it into practice under the guidance of our expert instructors

During the first two weeks, students learn the fundamental tools of documentary filmmaking. Classes include producing, directing, camera, lighting, sound recording, and editing. Students apply what they learn by creating two-minute individual observational films, and by producing two short group projects in production workshops. Following production and post-production of each project, students screen their work with their classmates and instructors and engage in critiques and discussion.

picture of a NYFA graduate fred boll shooting on location with whoopi goldberg Throughout the session, each student devotes time to developing and pre-producing their final documentary in and outside the classroom—a film of up to eight minutes in length with at least two tracks of sound. Students crew on their classmates' documentary films. Projects are edited using digital editing software.

Significant Production and Post-production hours outside of class time are necessary to successfully complete the workshop. The Academy recognizes, as should the students, that these hours will vary from student to student, depending on the scope of each project.


The educational objectives of the 6-Week Filmmaking-Documentary Workshop are to teach students the art and craft of documentary filmmaking and to instruct students through a strict regimen consisting of lectures, seminars, hands-on workshops, and supervised editing to excel in the creative art of documentary storytelling.


Skills learned as a result of successful completion of this 6-week documentary workshop include:

  • The ability to work independently and collaboratively in a high-pressure creative environment.
  • The fundamentals of developing, producing and directing a short documentary.
  • Experience working as a director, producer, cinematographer, sound mixer, and editor on student productions.
  • picture of NYFA graduate francesca pagani and marco vitale shooting hip hop hassid
  • An in-depth experience working with digital video cameras and sound recording equipment.
  • Sufficient mastery of digital editing software to edit a short film of up to 10 minutes in length.
  • Sufficient knowledge of sound design, multiple track laying, and sound mixing to complete and enhance the final documentary.
  • Knowledge of aesthetic film theory and documentary ethics, and experience with practical application of the same.


The Six-Week Documentary Workshop requires successful completion of the following creative projects in partial fulfillment of graduation requirements:

  • Project 1 - Observational Film
  • Project 2 - Interview Project
  • Project 3 - Location Project
  • Project 4 - Final Documentary
Students must successfully complete every course of study with a passing grade or better. To graduate and receive a Certificate of Completion, students must also adhere to the Academy's Attendance Policy and Code of Conduct. For complete details regarding these policies, please consult the Course Catalog. Additionally, students must fulfill all financial obligations to the New York Film Academy.

Satisfactory completion of the four projects is required for graduation from the New York Film Academy's 6-Week Documentary Workshop. The 6-Week Documentary Workshop is an accelerated full-time course of study and does not provide for multiple tracks of study. All courses are mandatory. This is a highly specialized workshop, and there are no majors or minors. The workshop may not be completed in less than six weeks. Classes are taught in either a lecture, seminar, or laboratory format.

Producing and Directing the Documentary
Camera and Lighting
Documentary Production Workshop

Producing and Directing the Documentary

This hands-on producing and directing course is the spine of the six-week documentary program and establishes a foundation for all projects. Through lectures and screenings, students explore documentary techniques, genres and styles. They learn to develop an idea from concept through post-production as they produce and direct a two-minute individual observational film, two group projects shot in the Documentary Production Workshop, and an individual final documentary on a topic of the student's own choosing. Students complete this course with a greater understanding of cinematic language in relation to storytelling, as well as the fundamentals of coverage, story structure, directing and line producing.
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Camera and Lighting

In this course, students are taught camera and lighting skills in the digital video format. Technical details including aperture, shutter speed, focus, frame rates, white balance, video latitude, gels, and filters are covered. In hands-on lighting sessions, students learn to work with and enhance available and natural light situations, as well as traditional lighting for interviews and controlled situations. With the help of simple to more complex hands-on exercises, students become progressively more fluent with camera and lighting techniques, and begin to focus on the role cinematography plays in telling and enhancing non-fiction stories.
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This course provides hands-on training in production sound recording, both sync and non-sync sound, using digital equipment. The importance of recording quality location sound for a smooth transition into post-production is emphasized. This course raises and answers the questions: What do I have to record while shooting? How can I best record it? What sounds do I need for a successful mix? In post-production, students gain an understanding of sound design and its role in storytelling. They train in recording narration, laying multiple tracks, and sound mixing. They apply these skills to their Final Documentaries.
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Documentary Production Workshop

All-day workshop sessions are group experiences that immerse students in a learn-by-doing environment. Students put into practice the concepts introduced in Producing and Directing the Documentary, Camera & Lighting, Sound, and Editing. Workshop I emphasizes observational filming, film language, and basic coverage; Workshop II highlights controlled situations such as shooting and directing the interview, lighting, and production sound. Students explore the cinematic coverage of a scene based on its structure and the dramatic needs of its key moments and thematic ideas. Workshop III takes place on location and emphasizes storytelling and coverage in an 'uncontrolled situation.'
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Documentary films often find their true forms in the editing room. This makes the editing process extremely important because a story may take a different shape after the footage is reviewed. In this course, students learn the fundamentals of digital editing while exploring the particular challenges of documentary storytelling. Some class hours are devoted to guiding students through the process of editing projects produced and shot in the Documentary Production Workshop, as well as the students' Final Documentaries.
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Dates & Tuition


Tuition: $4,513 (USD) +
Equipment Fee: $ent & Technology Fee: $872

Location & Available Dates

For New York City:
May 8, 2023 - Jun 20, 2023
Jul 3, 2023 - Aug 18, 2023
Sep 11, 2023 - Oct 24, 2023

For Los Angeles:
Jun 12, 2023 - Jul 22, 2023
Sep 5, 2023 - Oct 14, 2023

Please note: Dates and Tuition are subject to change
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