Master Classes are in-depth, interactive learning experiences focused on craft and career building and led by renowned industry experts. Topics include fiction and documentary filmmaking, TV writing and production, and navigating and succeeding in the entertainment industry.

What do Lucy and Desi, The Dissident, The Cove and Icarus have in common? Emmy nominated filmmaker Mark Monroe is the writer behind each of their stories. If you thought documentaries didn’t need a script, think again. With over sixty documentary writing credits under his belt, Mark will discuss how he works with directors, editors and producers to craft a compelling story and shape heroes and villains the audience will go all in on. Using clips from the many different genres he’s worked in, Mark will explain the research and collaboration processes he employed as well as how to find the story in prep, production and post. In this live and interactive three-hour master class, you will have the opportunity to ask questions about the craft of writing the documentary and how to collaborate with a writer when working in nonfiction.

Topics covered include:

  • 00:00 - 05:00: Welcome and introduction from Sundance Collab
  • 05:00 - 08:40 : Introduction from Mark - what does a documentary writer do?
  • 08:40 - 16:00: Mark’s background and how he got here
  • 16:00-19:50: Mark’s first documentary writing gig: Dogtown and Z-Boys
  • 19:50-25:40: Creative roles in documentary and when a writer is needed
  • 25:40-29:25: How to approach writing documentaries using a narrative approach
  • 29:25-41:16: First person narrative filmmaking and The Cove
  • 41:16 - 59:20: Q&A
  • 59:20 - 1:04:17: Treatments
  • 1:04:17-1:09:18: Timelines
  • 1:09:18-1:12:03: Interview Prep
  • 1:12:03-1:26:31: Story Maps
  • 1:26:31-1:29:23: Working with Directors and Editors
  • 1:29:23 - 1:35:36: Fantastic Fungi and collaboration
  • 1:35:36-1:54:40: Q&A
  • 1:54:40-2:02:02: The Biggest Little Farm and using timelines and story maps to craft the narrative
  • 2:02:02: Icarus and when a project changes direction mid-course
  • 2:16:04: Eight Days a Week and rethinking your opening
  • 2:21:40 - 2:45:35: Q&A
  • 2:45:35 - 2:48:27: Final announcements

Recommend Resources can be downloaded here.

Past classes have included Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams on Documentary Storytelling, Finding Dory’s Victoria Strouse on Comedy Writing, Emmy-nominated director Lesli Linka Glatter on Blocking a Scene, The Walking Dead’s Glen Mazzara on TV Writing, and more.

Mark Monroe is an award-winning documentary writer and filmmaker. A journalism graduate from the University of Oklahoma, Mark began his career in television as a newswriter for CNN. more...

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