Filmmaking Workshops


Whether you consider yourself a seasoned professional, an emerging filmmaker, or a beginner, Docs In Progress offers a range of adult education programs focused on documentary filmmaking. Beginners may want to check out our introductory production, pre-production, editing, and storytelling classes and webinars. Those filmmakers with more experience can find a variety of professional development workshops, bootcamps, panels, expert talks, master classes, and other programs focused on everything from taking your camerawork or editing to the next level to developing a fundraising strategy to honing your pitch. We also offer educational programs for youth and nonprofit organizations. Save by becoming a Docs Insider Premium member.



Writing for Documentary | October 26 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Your written proposal is possibly your first – maybe your only – shot at impressing a commissioning editor or funder. It’s important to write a proposal that will capture their attention. But, you say: “I am a filmmaker, not a writer, and my idea speaks for itself.” A commissioner’s/funder’s response? If you can’t write a comprehensive proposal why should I trust you to make a compelling documentary?

In this workshop, we’ll learn about the ingredients of a documentary proposal and how the written materials will also help you to write grant applications. We’ll also look at treatments and pitch decks, which are all important documents to keep in reserve when planning a documentary and applying for grants.

To register for the workshop, SIGN UP HERE.
About the instructor: Adele Schmidt
Adele Schmidt is a film & video producer, director and editor who has won numerous awards in both documentary and fiction films, including TIVA-DC's Peer Award, the U.S. International Film and Video Festival Award, the Telly Awards and the Gabriel Award. She is co-founder of Zeitgeist Media LLC, an independent production company that has been releasing the music documentary series on progressive Rock, "Romantic Warriors - A Progressive Music Saga," which includes the Krautrock Trilogy. She is also an adjunct professorial lecturer at American University and a co-founder of Docs In Progress. Originally from Germany, Adele taught film and video production at the National Center for Cinematographic Studies, Mexico City.

Documentary Fundraising | November 2 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm (also taught by Adele Schmidt)

Making a documentary film is exciting, but raising money to make that film is all but exciting. It’s very hard work. The good news is that there is a potential audience for every film and there is also potential money for every film, but you must take on the challenge to find that audience and find that money. If you think that you have a fantastic idea, you must still prove that others will feel the same way and you must be able to address the basic questions of need, audience, distribution, marketing, crew, budget, and … you better have a funding plan. Some projects raise money following a patchwork strategy by receiving money from different sources. Some projects are supported by one big funder. All is possible and all is valuable on the quest to get your film done. What’s your strategy?

In this session we’ll discuss the following questions: w
hat is the right mindset to start raising money for your project? Is my project doable and is there money to support it? Where is the money coming from? What is the right fundraising strategy for my film?

To register for the workshop, SIGN UP HERE.


Photography: Enriching Your Life Through the Lens of Your Camera | November 6 & 13 from 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm (IN-PERSON)

This two-part photography workshop is broken up into Part 1: Elements of Design & Composition in Photography and Part 2: Editing Your Photos. It is recommended you sign up for both sessions since they build on each other. However, it is also possible to sign up for these sessions a la carte.

Part 1: Elements of Design & Composition in Photography

Saturday, November 6, 2021 12:30 - 2:30 pm | $80 (to register for this session only)

We live in an age of image making. We all take tons of photos on a regular basis! This workshop is aimed to help you organize the process of your photo taking. Specifically, we'll be covering how to apply the foundations of art and the principles of design to turn your photos into pieces of art.

Part 2: Editing Your Photos

Saturday, November 13, 2021 12:30 - 2:30 pm | $80 (to register for this session only)

In this workshop, you will learn how to edit your photos using easy and free tools that you can access even on your cell phone. By the end of the class, you will have photos that reflect you and your artistry.

Workshop Note: Because of the pandemic, all participants are required to bring proof of vaccination to the workshop and also to wear a mask throughout. You may use your own cell phone or cameras will be provided in class.

About the instructor: Olha Onyshko

Olha Onyshko is a documentary filmmaker and multimedia producer. Her first film, Three Stories of Galicia, a story of humanism in the midst of atrocities during and after World War II, premiered in 2010. Screened in 12 countries and translated into four languages, the film sparked a debate over historic memory and its role in current events. Her latest film Women of Maidan is her second feature documentary, and while editing the film she began to coordinate efforts between physicians and volunteers to bring wounded Ukrainian soldiers to the U.S. for life-saving medical treatment. In 2014 she received recognition by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Embassy of Ukraine to the U.S. for her extraordinary work.


To register for the workshop, SIGN UP HERE. 


Filmmaking through Storytelling | November 6, 13 & 20 from 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm (IN-PERSON)

This class will take you through all stages of production from developing your idea, to writing a basic script, through the production process and post production editing, so your story surfaces in the form of a short film between 1-4 minutes in length. The class aims to overcome any intimidation of using equipment and organizing the amount of footage that is necessary to make a visual story.

Week 1 will focus on developing the idea and writing the script. Week 2 will focus on shooting the footage. Week 3 will devoted to editing.

This class uses Olha's storytelling method - My Hero, My Journey, My Power (TM) - which nurtures the storyteller's ability to go through a personal transformation when releasing the story that wants to be told. Students will have the option to use their own cell phones or cameras provided in the class. All that is required is a willingness to try new things and commitment to carry them through.

Completed films will be screened at an upcoming Docs' Community Stories Film Festival.


About the instructor: Olha Onyshko

Olha Onyshko is a documentary filmmaker and multimedia producer. Her first film, Three Stories of Galicia, a story of humanism in the midst of atrocities during and after World War II, premiered in 2010. Screened in 12 countries and translated into four languages, the film sparked a debate over historic memory and its role in current events. Her latest film Women of Maidan is her second feature documentary, and while editing the film she began to coordinate efforts between physicians and volunteers to bring wounded Ukrainian soldiers to the U.S. for life-saving medical treatment. In 2014 she received recognition by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Embassy of Ukraine to the U.S. for her extraordinary work.


To register for the workshop, SIGN UP HERE.


Archival Research 101 | November 8 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Archival Research 101 guides students down pathways for using third-party media in film and television. This course highlights how to avoid copyright and licensing pitfalls. Students will learn from pre-production to final delivery the basics of how to research, order, and clear archival photographs, films, and videos. We will move beyond Google and seek material at archives like the National Archives, Library of Congress, public libraries, museums, and universities.
The course will cover media formats, copyright, licensing, budgeting, public domain materials, distributor requirements, and media management. Students will take away a list of go-to sources for historic film research and contemporary media licensing.


About the instructor: Sarah Katz
Sarah Katz has worked in television and multimedia as a Producer, Associate Producer, and Researcher for more than nineteen years. She has cleared rights for more than three dozen televised documentaries including the recently released series The Machines That Built America on History as well as museum exhibits like Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing for the Smithsonian, and The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. She has been commended by her colleagues for her thorough understanding of the field. Sarah has been called the most experienced Archival Producer he’s met by some of Jon Stewart’s producers and sought after by Oscar Nominated filmmakers for her research experience.


To register for the workshop,  SIGN UP HERE. 


Budgeting for Documentary | November 9 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm (also taught by Adele Schmidt)

Keeping control over your budget throughout the entire documentary filmmaking process (from the early stages to the finished product) is a core component when making a film. Having a budget doesn’t only give you confidence, it also tells the funders that you know what you are doing. It helps you to raise money and it helps you to save money. How do I structure my documentary budget? What items go into a budget? What is the cost of each item? Which are the hard costs? What is an in-kind contribution? Do I pay myself? What about archival rights? Music licensing rights? Does the budget change as I move forward in the process?

In this class you’ll learn how to construct a budget and we’ll discuss all the above questions, plus all the questions that you bring to the table. After the class, you will have a much clearer picture about how to build your own budget.

To register for the workshop, SIGN UP HERE.


Filmmaking at Your Fingertips:  The Smartphone Documentarian | November 13 from 10:30 am - 3:30 pm

This special workshop from Docs In Progress will give participants the opportunity to learn how to get the most out of your smartphones when it comes to video.

Today’s smartphones carry with them excellent lenses and high resolution video. You’ll learn how to make the most of them just by knowing the devices better. We’ll also look at apps and hardware that further improve your video and sound. From pre-production to post-production, you’ll be able to produce documentaries or documentary-style videos with the “production studio in your pocket.”

Participants should plan on using their own Smartphone or Tablet (both IOS and Android devices are acceptable). 

About the instructor: Larry Engel

Larry Engel is an Emmy® award-winning producer, writer, director, and cinematographer now in his fifth ​decade of filmmaking that spans all seven continents. He’s worked on over 250 projects for domestic and international broadcasters and cable channels. His career originated in photography, and he studied with Walker Evans. He then moved to film. Currently, Engel is an Associate Professor at American University’s School of Communication, Associate Director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking, and filmmaker-in-residence with the Investigative Reporting Workshop. He teaches both production and theory/history. Several courses carry into the field, including "The Practice of Environmentalism: Galapagos" and a summer session “Classroom-in-the-Wild™: Extreme HD: Alaska.”


To register for the workshop, SIGN UP HERE.  



Introduction to Editing with Adobe Premiere Pro | November 15, 18, 22, 29, and December 2, 6 from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

This course is a timely way to learn the skill at the heart of documentaries: editing. During this time of social distance, we're staying connected with visual storytelling and educational media. Although the class needs to be online while the Docs In Progress building remains closed, it's actually an ideal way to learn editing software and techniques, with your own screen right in front of you, personally guided by an Adobe Certified Instructor, editing professor, and filmmaker during live interactive Zoom sessions.


Designed for anyone new to documentary editing (or wanting a refresher), the course requires your own access to a computer with Adobe Premiere Pro software installed: you can get a Creative Cloud license by enrolling in a paid subscription, or you may already have one. But also, if you've never installed Adobe Premiere on your computer, you can activate a free 30-day trial subscription that works just as well, without any billing, that matches the length of this course. Lastly, if you lack access to either option, please contact Docs In Progress directly before enrolling, to explore possible arrangements. We are here to work it out!


During 6 sessions this Fall on Monday and Thursday evenings, you'll learn the editing interface, how to establish a workflow, ingest files, use tools to trim/place/move your material where you want it, incorporate still pictures, and add basic transitions/titles/effects. You'll use provided footage for practice material, leading up to a final editing challenge for real-world experience. Besides this technical training, discussion of documentary editing history and theory will surround each week's topics on: the basics of editing, effects, color, and sound.

About the instructor: Paul Moon

H. Paul Moon ( is a filmmaker, professor and attorney based in New York City and Washington, D.C. whose work concentrates on the performing arts. He teaches editing, and manages a network of online communities at and that keep pace with new camera technologies and documentary news. Major works include "Sitka: A Piano Documentary" ( about the craftsmanship of Steinway pianos, and "Quartet for the End of Time" ( about Olivier Messiaen’s transcendent WWII composition. Moon's first feature, an acclaimed and award-winning documentary about the life and music of American composer Samuel Barber (, premiered on PBS, and he is currently finishing another documentary feature about Western poetry ( His ongoing bicentennial multimedia works on poet Walt Whitman are featured at Moon's latest film is an operatic adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (, awarded "Critic's Choice" by Opera News as a "thoroughly enjoyable film version, insightfully conceived and directed" with "first-rate and remarkably illustrative storytelling."


To register for the workshop, SIGN UP HERE. 


Marketing and Distributing Your Documentary Film | November 16 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm (also taught by Adele Schmidt)

With the digitalization of the film and video industry and the rise of social media, marketing and distribution strategies for documentaries have changed. Traditionally, marketing & distribution efforts involved film festivals that served as a launching pad for possible distribution through a distributor. Today, in addition to film festivals, there are many other options of how to market and distribute a film. Projects can exist on more than one platform and you want to consider all ways your project can evolve. In this workshop we will look into new trends in the film marketing and distribution landscape, and we’ll find out the best marketing and distribution options for your film.

Workshop topics include: Digital distribution platforms, cross platform thinking and marketing, the benefits of first and second tier festivals, the educational market, PBS, social media and how best to make use of it, alternative sources of monetization, how data analytics can help you reach your target audience.

To register for the workshop, SIGN UP HERE.




Get Your Film Out There: How You Can Make a Living as a Filmmaker | November 17 from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Does it ever seem like growing as a filmmaker from an idea to success is a complete mystery–filled with never-ending to-do lists and hundreds of action items with no real consistent, sequential steps to follow to transform your passion into profits? The reality is that to be successful in filmmaking you must master the business side of creativity. Beate has taught tens of thousands of creatives in easy steps the key elements of mindset, growth, and strategy so that they can make their impact. She believes that post pandemic creatives will bring people together through storytelling and inspiration.

In this session, learn from a strategic advisor who successfully sold a multi-million dollar creative photography business to Bill Gates using this exact formula to organizations and works with hundreds of companies from start-ups to Fortune 100 global brands. In this session, you will learn:


• Five steps of Growth Architecture and how to approach the business side of filmmaking.

• Learn the key elements of project management and how to see your project through especially when you experience challenges

• How to keep your mindset focused on completing your film even when you are battling doubt and fear

About the instructor: Beate Chelette

Beate Chelette is the Growth Architect and designs processes and systems for impact driven leaders who want to grow, build and scale their business, while achieving measurable results and profits they can count on.

A first-generation immigrant who found herself $135,000 in debt as a single parent, Beate bootstrapped her passion for photography into a highly successful global business and eventually sold it to Bill Gates in a multimillion-dollar deal.


To register for the workshop, SIGN UP HERE. 



Podcast Storytelling | December 7 from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Podcasting is red hot on the media landscape. There are currently 2 million podcasts in release and the listenership for this format has exploded - nearly 6 in 10 American consumers over the age of 12 have listened to a podcast. Podcasts are interesting, accessible 24/7, and totally mobile. Best of all, podcasts are perfect for non-fiction storytelling.

This 90-minute workshop is Intended as a soup-to-nuts overview of podcasting. We will discuss how to conceive, produce and distribute a podcast. What makes a great podcast? What kinds of stories are “podcast stories?” How can you turn your story into a podcast? Do you have what it takes to produce it? Join us and find out!

Workshop participants are encouraged to listen to at least one episode of Seavey’s latest podcast My Fugitive as she will use example from that series. You can find it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.


About the instructor: Nina Gilden Seavey - President, Seavey Media

Nina Gilden Seavey is an Emmy Award-winning documentarian with a 30-year career in the non-fiction world. Her media projects can be seen in theaters, on television, in ancillary media, in museum exhibitions, and heard in podcasts cross the globe. She is the President of Seavey Media (

Seavey’s most recent project is the 8-part podcast series, My Fugitive produced by Pineapple Street Studios. The series was the result of a 10-year investigation and one the large lawsuits against the FBI, the CIA, and the National Archives in U.S. history.

Seavey’s documentaries have won numerous awards including five National Emmy nominations (one statue awarded), the Erik Barnouw Prize for Best Historical Film of the Year, The Golden Hugo, Cine Special Jury Prize, The Telly Award, The Italian National Olympic Cup for Best Sports Film, The Peter C Rollins Prize for Best Film in American Culture, among many others.

Seavey is the Founding Director of The Documentary Center in the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University. She holds the academic rank of Full Research Professor of History and Media and Public Affairs with appointments both in the Department of History and in the School of Media and Public Affairs.

To register for the workshop, SIGN UP HERE. 


Introduction to Documentary Production | 7 Sundays (Jan 23, 30, and Feb 6, 13, 20, 27) from Noon - 3:00 pm

This hands-on class for new filmmakers focuses on how to plan, shoot and edit a short documentary. The class will introduce participants to screen language and sequencing and provide hands-on experience with digital video cameras and the Adobe Premiere editing system. Equipment and access to a computer lab will be provided.

Participants will work in small teams to produce a 3-5 minute documentary profile piece. Each team can develop their own subject or the instructor can assign a subject if needed.

In addition to learning how to use the equipment, work in a small crew, and plan and structure your story, the class will also focus on the interviewing process. Asking well thought out questions not only provides you with the information you’re looking for but also helps develop trust and rapport with your subjects.

Completed films will be screened at an upcoming Docs' Community Stories Film Festival.

About the instructor: Marilyn Stone

Marilyn Stone is the Visual Media & Imaging Specialist at the Montgomery County Department of Parks in Silver Spring, Maryland. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Film & Media Production from American University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University. Marilyn’s academic and professional background includes eight years of collective experience in both documentary video production and photography with a focus on reconnecting viewers with nature and science through media. Her production and editing experience has allowed her to work locally with production teams and abroad as a run-and-gun filmmaker on a variety of collaborations for visual storytelling.


To register for the workshop, SIGN UP HERE.