Documentary Filmmaking: Crafting Your Story in Post

Workshop course

Sundance Collab offers a robust collection of online courses in the Sundance spirit of amplifying your independent voice as a storyteller. Join our global community to hone your craft, network with other creators, and develop career strategies to help you navigate the film and television industry.

In documentary filmmaking, the story is largely crafted after the footage has been shot. Learn how to develop your film’s story in the edit room, with accomplished documentary filmmakers as your guides. In this live, online course, you will deepen your understanding of and engage in the post-production process with a specific lens on your work-in-progress documentary.

You will engage in topical, participatory lecture and discussion sessions each week with the lead instructor. In five of the sessions, you will move from that week’s lecture into a breakout session with a course advisor and peers where each participant will get an opportunity to workshop and receive feedback on material from their current projects. One session also includes special guests from the Sundance network who will discuss strategies for distribution and impact campaigns after the film is complete. Weekly assignments include review of peer work as well as reading and research exercises designed to deepen your understanding of the post-production process. The course concludes with a one-on-one mentoring session with your advisor giving you feedback on your project. 

By the end of the course, you will:

  • identify various documentary formats and determine your own film’s cinematic and storytelling approach.
  • understand the technical post-production workflow and how to successfully collaborate with your editor.
  • determine how to find the strongest themes, characters, and storylines from among your logs and footage.
  • learn how to write your documentary script using tools such as beat sheets and a paper edit.
  • understand how to incorporate the use of third-party materials such as music and archival footage.
  • workshop a sequence or scene from your current project to help troubleshoot and move forward on your story development.
  • know the steps necessary for finalizing and delivering a project such as color correction, credits, and creating E&O clearance logs.
  • establish an understanding of possibilities for distribution and social impact campaigns for your film.

This course is ideal for:

  • directors, producers, or editors who are currently in the post-production stage on a documentary project.
  • filmmakers who have at least half of their footage shot and are looking for guidance in organizing their project for editing and finding the material within their footage that will create the most compelling story.
  • filmmakers in post-production who are feeling stuck on a particular scene or sequence and would benefit from workshopping that scene with a group of peers and advisors.

Participants will be placed in small group workshops of up to ten filmmakers. To apply, you must be currently working on a documentary film (short or feature) in which you will have completed 50% of the principal photography by the course start date.  

Sundance Collab provides accommodations and support services to participants with disabilities. Accommodations and services are designed to meet the needs of each participant. Please email us at to arrange for services.