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Short Documentary Production

Starts January 22

9 sessions: Wednesdays, January 22-March 18, 6:30-9:30pm

In this hands-on production class each student will professionally produce and direct a short documentary film (6 minutes or less) in the doc genre of their choice. The class will cover pre-production, production, and post-production. Throughout the course we’ll view and analyze documentaries and clips, from old educational films to cinema verité, to personal docs, expository, social justice, and historical films, to get a taste of the wide variety of forms that documentary can take, and to clarify what style or methods would best serve your film. Students have the choice of collaborating or working individually, and will be encouraged to help classmates on shoots. The more shoots you work on, the more you’ll learn!

Have a work-in-progress? You’re welcome to take this class and continue to work on and receive feedback on a short or longer film.

Students are encouraged to use their own camera gear (including cell phones), and editing system for this course. There is some gear available for checkout from FilmNorth (limit: 2 checkouts) on a first come, first served basis. You’re welcome to use FilmNorth’s edit lab outside of class during business hours. Both equipment and edit lab time are included with tuition. Students need to provide external hard drives to store project files.

At least a basic knowledge of cameras, lighting, and editing is preferred. Completed films will be screened for family and friends at FilmNorth the week following the last class session.

Course Outline

Sessions 1-4, Pre-production and Production: Pitching, scripting, planning, ethics, building relationships, shooting, gathering B-roll, interviewing strategies, and the importance of good audio.
Sessions 5-9, Post-production: Paper editing, editing, creating a dramatic arc in nonfiction films, working with stills and audio, footage and music rights, and avenues of distribution.

Tuition: $370 regular/$280 member/$210 low-income

Thalia Drori Ramirez is a writer, producer, and director with 30 years of experience making motion pictures: documentary, narrative, and personal/experimental. She received her MFA from New York University, and then worked in television news production and as an indie producer in New York and the San Francisco Bay Area. Her award-winning work has screened around the world. Adam Abdul Hakeem: One Who Survived, her documentary about corrupt, drug-dealing cops in New York’s South Bronx  and a young man who dared to challenge them, was broadcast on PBS and BET, and continues to be used a teaching tool in law schools in the Her experimental, narrative, and personal work includes the stop-motion animation comedy Corporate Sponsorship Parade, as well as dark comedies, Waiting For Darryl, Little Miss Potentiality, and her first feature: Toxic Energy ~ Little Miss Potentiality Returns.

Thalia has been teaching and mentoring students for 20 years. She was full-time faculty in Media Arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. At the invitation of a women’s organization in Granada, Nicaragua, she founded Cineastas de Granada, a free-of-charge video production program for teen girls in Granada, where she taught for 12 years. In 2013, she began working in screenplay editing and reading for both Happy Writers and Women In Cinema International.

Thalia recently returned to the Twin Cities, where she continues to teach and make independent films.

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.




January 22 @ 6:30 pm
March 18 @ 9:30 pm
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Thalia Drori Ramirez
Registration Deadline
Maximum Enrollment