Short Filming Courses With Landmark

I’m re-booting Landmark’s short filming courses. I’ve been teaching and working for quite a few different organisations since the pandemic – the National Film and Television School (NFTS), the University of Oxford, UAL in London, training courses for Channel 4 and ITV Studios and NFTS Wales (who took the photo on this piece) and UK Screenskills.

As the restrictions have eased and in-person courses have become possible again, I’ve enjoyed being in the same room with real humans. I let the face-to-face Landmark courses lapse during the pandemic so now I’m restarting them – and hugely looking forward to it.

Most people seeking short filming courses seem to want to learn the practicalities of self shooting. And the weird mix of technical and human stuff behind recording successful and memorable interviews with people. So we’ll start with those two. If you’re up for that, then all you need to do is to register interest here and we’ll wrangle dates and people.

I want to do these in Oxford on a no-frills basis. That way, I can keep the groups small and the costs low because I’ve no gear hire costs (I’ve got quite enough, thank you!) and no premises hire costs. Let’s see how we go from there.

Looking through the reams of feedback from the in-person courses I’ve taught recently, I’m very pleased how many people talk about gaining confidence – and how generous they are with saying nice things. The confidence thing is a big one for me. I’m always a bit dismayed how many people – usually, I have to say, women – are shut out at early stages from acquiring the tecchy and filming skills which would enable them to borrow a camera and just go and shoot a convincing pitch tape themselves. So often that means getting the first break from AP to director.

I can help with that – my favourite feedback from my recent courses was this:

“I learnt more in 2 days with you than I did in my whole journalism degree when it came to documentaries. I was expecting to feel overwhelmed because anything tech is not my forte, but instead I left feeling inspired and excited at the idea of potentially being a self shooter some day. Thank you so much, I can’t explain how much you’ve increased my confidence within all of this.”

I was really proud of that – I do like passing on stuff I know to the film makers of tomorrow and doing what I can to demystify and de-jargonise filming.

The USP for learners is that you’re being taught by someone – me! – with 30 years of practical, broadcast industry experience. Plus five years of teaching experience with top-notch institutions. That means you don’t only learn which buttons to press and dials to twiddle and why but you also get real-world tips and tricks to help you in real life filming scenarios. And you get a learning experience which has been tried and tested and gets consistently great feedback.

When I started as a “proper” documentary director doing films and series for BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4, there was me and a cameraperson, an assistant cameraperson, a sound recordist, an assistant producer and sometimes a researcher and/or an electrician. I could just get on with whatever it is directors are supposed to do. By the time I stopped doing broadcast stuff in 2017, there was me and a handicam. This meant I was able to learn a hell of a lot from professional specialists who really, really knew their business. But then, I had to apply that myself to my own filming to find my own working method.

Since then, I’ve had to become way more tecchy than I ever was. I film stuff for the University of Oxford and various charities so I’ve had to get much better than I ever was at lighting interviews. I work with a variety of cameras – traditional TV cameras like the Canon C300 and Sony FS7 and mirrorless/DSLR type set-ups like the Canon R6 and R5. There are pros and cons to each, which I’m very happy to talk you through. That’s a second big selling point for Landmark’s courses: you’re not tied in to the particular gear provided for that particular course.

My aim is to make sure you’ll go away confident you can get professional results irrespective of which camera you’re  using. And you’ll know enough to tell anyone trying to browbeat you with tecchy talk to just eff right off.

Er, perhaps best not to say exactly that but…..