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Documentary Boot Camp – A Master Class with Melody Gilbert

Starts February 2

1 session: Saturday, February 2, 10am–5pm

Have you ever wanted to make a documentary? This intensive, one-day class taught by award-winning documentary filmmaker Melody Gilbert will address:

  • What makes a good documentary?
  • What is your documentary about?
  • Why do you want to make your documentary?
  • The art of the pitch
  • Pre-production exercises that will make you think
  • How to make others enthusiastic about your idea
  • You’ve shot your footage…now what?

Students with a work-in-progress may bring up to two minutes of footage (trailer, raw footage, or edited scene) to show in class and receive feedback from the instructor and students (though it’s not necessary to have begun a project to participate). Melody will also show clips from her films and share her top ten tips for success in documentary filmmaking, along with behind-the-scenes stories about her films and how she made them. You’ll leave the class with information, insights, and a newfound energy for making your documentary project idea a reality. All levels welcome. There is a lunch break.

Tuition: $175 regular/$130 member/$100 low-income

Melody Gilbert has directed, produced, shot (and sometimes edited) character-driven stories for more than 20 years. Her seven feature-length documentaries are noteworthy for featuring a rare intimacy with her subjects as she unearths previously hidden worlds. She works mostly solo and has the ability to get people to reveal their innermost thoughts, whether it’s the family of a child who can’t feel pain (A Life Without Pain/SXSW), a former Vice President of the United States (Fritz: The Walter Mondale Story/PBS), or a physically healthy person who wants to become an amputee (Whole/Sundance Channel).

Melody directed, produced, and shot The Summer Help (2016), co-directed the first 3D documentary made in Bulgaria, Steps In The Fire, and she also served as a producer on three Minnesota-made films, American Heart (2013), The Starfish Throwers (2014), and Women Outward Bound (2015). In 2018 Melody premiered her newest documentary Silicone Soul (2018), which explores the emotional connection some men and women have to their synthetic companions and what that means for the future of human relationships. Silicone Soul was invited by the Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival for its world premiere, was recently selected to screen at the prestigious DOC NYC, and won the Best Editing award at the Covellite International Film Festival.

In 2011 Melody moved to Eastern Europe where she taught filmmaking and journalism at American University in Bulgaria. She is the founder of Docuclub Minnesota, a recipient of the very first McKnight Foundation Artist Fellowship for Filmmakers, and a huge fan of Dunn Brother’s Coffee.


2002 Married at the Mall (Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor)
2003 Whole (Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor)
2005 A Life Without Pain (Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor)
2007 Urban Explorers:Into the Darkness (Director/Producer/Cinematographer)
2008 Fritz: The Walter Mondale Story (Director/Producer/Cinematographer)
2008 Disconnected (Executive Producer)
2011 Tami Tushie’s Toys (short documentary) (Director)
2011 Numb (Executive Producer)
2014 American Heart (Executive Producer)
2014 The Starfish Throwers (Producer)
2015 Steps in the Fire (Bulgaria/U.S.) (Co-Director)
2016 Women Outward Bound (Producer/Writer)
2016 The Summer Help (Director/Producer/Cinematographer)
2018 Silicone Soul (Director/Producer/Cinematographer)

Class Registration Guidelines & Cancellation Policy

  • Space is assigned on a first-come basis. Registrations must include payment in full. Registrations are accepted after registration deadlines if space is available.
  • If minimum enrollment has not been reached by 5 days prior to the start date of a class, FilmNorth may cancel it, in which case registrants will immediately be notified and receive a full refund within 5 business days. A check will be issued for registrations that were paid in cash. In lieu of a refund, students have the option of applying their tuition to another class in the same calendar year.
  • For those wishing to cancel a registration prior to the class registration deadline, 100% of the tuition will be refunded minus a $25 administrative fee. For registration cancellations received after the registration deadline but prior to the first class session, 50% of the tuition will be refunded minus a $25 administrative fee. As of a class start date, no refunds or credits/exchanges will be given.
  • Tuition is not prorated for missed class sessions.



February 2
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Event Categories:


Melody Gilbert
Registration Deadline
Maximum Enrollment
Class count or Info
1 session: Saturday, February 2, 10am–5pm