Focus on filmmaking

For people who realize that sometimes the best stories are found inreal life

For people who realize that sometimes the best stories are found in real life, the new Documentary and Filmmaking Summer Institute at Seneca College’s School of Communications Arts might be just the thing to awaken their inner documentarian.

The new 14-week Documentary and Filmmaking Summer Institute at Seneca College offers fledgling filmmakers a chance to learn filmmaking skills and tricks directly from the pros, using professional equipment.

Program director Sunny Yi says it is meant to be completely hands-on from the start. Students will learn every aspect of the production, business and creative sides of the industry.

“The whole institute is designed to simulate the industry out there,” Yi said. “There’s no homework, there are no textbooks, just the visual exercises that give you the experience and practice in documentary filmmaking.”

Yi, herself a celebrated veteran documentary filmmaker famous for being the first Western journalist allowed to report from inside North Korea, says students can expect to gain not only skill with the tools of filmmaking but also a greater understanding of the art of storytelling.

“It doesn’t matter how fancy a camera you have, if you can’t tell a story with a beginning, middle and end, it stops there. It’s all about the storytelling,” Yi said.

All camera and editing equipment will be provided by Seneca and instructors will be pulled directly from the industry to drop by and teach, such as Jennifer Baichwal, director of the documentary Act of God, which just screened at the Hot Docs festival.

Yi says the goal of the program is to grant students practical, job-ready skills in the field of documentary filmmaking.

“We want to make sure students have what it takes to go out and get that work,” Yi said.

“I’d like to use documentaries as a tool to be on the leading edge of my industry,” said Jennifer Holmes, 32, who is studying disaster emergency management at York University. She says she wants to learn to make documentaries over the summer as tools for educating people about emergency responses during a disaster.

For 48-year-old James Wood, the program is a chance to finally take a whole-hearted crack at something he has always loved. Wood worked in the television industry for 25 years in a variety of roles but never got the chance to make his own documentaries.

“I’m taking this opportunity to learn documentaries, which I love,” Wood said.

“I kind of think I’ll have to erase a lot of stuff that I know, but I think I’m not too old to learn a few new tricks.”

Yi is still accepting applicants until May 15; the 14-week program begins on June 1.

 
 
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