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Nov 3, 2017 at 10:00 am – Nov 5, 2017 at 5:00 pm


With Jill Godmilow, James N. Kienitz Wilkins, Kirsten Johnson, Jane Gillooly, Zac Stuart Pontier and Pooja Rangan

This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Please sign up for the waitlist below to receive updates regarding any openings or similar future opportunities.

Voice has a special, if contentious, place in documentary. Sometimes nothing needs to be said at all in order for us to sense the filmmaker speaking to us. At other times, the author of the film becomes only a faintly audible presence, lost beneath the voices and opinions of others. To speak or not to speak? This may be the central question in documentary. Answers to this question have shaped the movement away from documentary’s earliest and most overbearing vocal convention, voice-of-god narration, toward more democratic and reflexive vocal approaches, such the interview, subjective voice-over, and the recent return to observational filmmaking. 

If you have ever questioned your own voice as a filmmaker, or agonized over how and when to use words to represent, narrate, or resurrect the stories of others, this workshop is for you! Over the course of 3 days, participants will encounter different audiovisual approaches to voice designed to provide practical advice, creative inspiration, and philosophical and historical insight. Our focus throughout will be the audiovisual place of voice (over, under, in front of, in the background, in-between) in relation to the image and soundscape. We will ask: how can the placement of voice in its many forms be used to narrate, observe, create, or recreate non-fiction worlds?

Led by writer Pooja Rangan, in partnership with UnionDocs and curator Mathilde Walker-Billaud, this conceptual and practical intensive will bring together 6 guest speakers: writers, directors, cinematographers, and producers from the film and radio industry. The speakers (Jill Godmilow, Far From Poland; What Farocki Taught; James N. Kienitz Williams, The Andre Trilogy; Jane Gillooly, Suitcase of Love and Shame; Kirsten Johnson, Cameraperson; Zac Stuart Pontier, Crimetown) will expose the participants (limited to 14) to a broad range of vocal techniques grounded in their own field-shaping and often unconventional practice. These include: direct address and reenactment, surrealist testimony and inner monologue, telling a story by editing archival voice records and film-for-hire footage, interview-based story-telling for radio and for film.

Through masterclasses, discussions, work-in-progress feedback presentations, as well as critical reading, screening, and listening exercises, the participants will develop a range of narrative techniques and learn multiple ways to use their voices to shape compelling and powerful documentary stories.


Who is eligible?

Open to everyone, but designed specifically for filmmakers, media and visual artists, radio producers and writers.

Give us an idea of who you are and why you are coming. After you register you will be asked for a short statement of interest that should briefly describe your experience in audio / video / visual  practice and a project idea (if you have one, that’s great. If you don’t, you might develop one during the workshop.), plus a bio. Also would be nice to include a work sample that you’d like to share with the group.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Focus is on discussion and ear/eye training. The goal is to develop your project conceptually.

$385 early bird registration October 12th, by 5pm.

$450 regular

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until November 14th. After November 14th, the fee is non-refundable.

In order to keep costs down, this workshop is a BYOL, i.e. bring your own laptop. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash. After the early bird registration deadline of October 13th, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.

In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Friday Nov 3 (Exposition)

AM: Jill Godmilow

PM: James N. Kienitz Wilkins

Saturday Nov 4 (Observation)

AM: Kirsten Johnson

PM: Jane Gillooly

Sunday Nov 5 (Interaction)

AM: Pooja Rangan

PM: Zac Stuart Pontier

Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:


Warm up, inspiring references, screenings and listening sessions, eye/ear training.


Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique


Discussion with guest


2 participants present their work / Workshop or Exercise




Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique


Discussion with guest


2 participants present their work / Workshop or Exercise


Wrap Up


Jill Godmilow is a producer/director of non-fiction and other films that include the 1984 post-realist documentary feature, Far From Poland, about the rise of the Polish Solidarity movement; Waiting for the Moon (1987), a feminist/modernist fictional feature about the lives of the literary couple Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein; Roy Cohn/Jack Smith (1995), a cinematic translation of a theater piece by performance artist Ron Vawter; What Farocki Taught, a replica and interrogation of a 1969 non-fiction film by German filmmaker Harun Farocki about the production of Napalm B during the Vietnam war, and most recently, a 6 hour, DVD archive, Lear ’87 Archive (Condensed) about the work of the renown New York City theatrical collective, Mabou Mines, on a fully gender-reversed production of Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. Among others, she has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations and her work has been nominated for an Academy Award, invited to the Whitney Biennial and won first prize at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2003, her film Antonia: A Portrait of The Woman was added to the prestigious National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. She recently retired from 20 years of teaching film production and critical studies in the Department of Film, Television & Theatre at the University of Notre Dame.

James N. Kienitz Wilkins is a filmmaker and artist based in Brooklyn. His work has been selected for international film festivals and venues including the New York Film Festival, CPH:DOX, MoMA PS1, Toronto IFF, Locarno IFF, Rotterdam IFF, Migrating Forms, BAMcinemaFest and Whitney Biennial. In 2016, he was awarded the Kazuko Trust Award presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and selected as one of “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine. He is a graduate of the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City.

Kirsten Johnson is a filmmaker and cinematographer interested in addressing the changing dimensions and urgent ethical challenges of documentary camerawork. Her most recent film Cameraperson, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2016, was short-listed for an Academy Award, won the National Board of Review “Freedom of Expression” prize, and was awarded three 2017 Cinema Eye Honors, including “Outstanding Nonfiction Feature.” Cameraperson was named one of the Top Ten Films of 2016 by The Washington Post and The New York Times, and was the Grand Jury Prize Winner of 9 international festivals. Her short film, The Above, which premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival, was nominated for the IDA Best Short of 2016. Kirsten’s camerawork appeared in the Cannes premiere, Risk, in the Academy Award-winning Citizenfour, Academy Award-nominated The Invisible War, Tribeca Documentary winner, Pray The Devil Back To Hell, Cannes winner Farenheit 9/11, and Emmy Award- winning Ladies First. She shared the Sundance 2010 Cinematography Award with Laura Poitras for their work on The Oath. She and Katy Chevigny co-directed Berlin Premiere Deadline, which won the Thurgood Marshall Award.

Jane Gillooly is a non-fiction and narrative film/video maker whose work is inspired and informed by a century of non-fiction filmmaking, silent and vintage cinema, and activism. Gillooly consistently surprises as she crosses new boundaries and confronts new subjects with a distinctive vision. A recent work, Suitcase of Love and Shame, repurposes historical material for use in time-based media collage and is indicative of an evolving filmography. Selected to screen as part of the distinguished Art of The Real series at the Film Society at Lincoln Center 2014, the film has screened internationally winning Best International Film at Images Festival in Toronto. Gillooly uniquely balances a commitment to emotional authenticity with a sensorial, textural style driven by striking images, sounds, and a musical approach to editing. As in her previous works, Gillooly has a capacity for capturing the complexities of real characters on film and demonstrates an instinctive understanding of the nuances of human emotion.

Projects include: Audience of Love and Shame (2015) a companion piece to Suitcase of Love and Shame (2013), a non-fiction work sourced from 60 hours of audiotape recorded in the 1960s. Part historical documentary and part experimental narrative the film repurposes this rare audio example to critically examine mid-century United States. Awarded Best International on screen work at IMAGES Festival, Toronto. Today The Hawk Takes One Chick (2008) an observational film shot in a rural Swaziland which premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and selected to screen at the Margaret Meade and Full Frame Documentary Film Festivals and toured internationally winning a Jury Prize at Kinoteatr.doc Festival in MOSCOW. The Not Dead Yet Club (2006) a Rockefeller-nominated experimental feature film script. Dragonflies, The Baby Cries (2000) which premiered at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and official selection of; San Francisco International Film Festival, Contemporary Film Festival of Mexico City, with broadcasts on PBS and SUNDANCE Channels. Leona’s Sister Gerri (1995) was featured at the Museum of Modern Art New Directors, New Films, Robert Flaherty Seminar, PBS, and the SUNDANCE Channel and included in the Best of P.O.V. released 2007. She was also co-producer of Theme: Murder (1998), selected to screen at Full Frame Documentary Festival, and INPUT. Gillooly, a Guggenheim Fellow and Alpert Award nominee, is a member of the graduate faculty and chair of the Media Arts Department at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University in Boston.

Zac Stuart-Pontier is the co-host of the podcast Crimetown. He is a journalist and filmmaker. He was the editor, co-producer and writer of the Emmy and Peabody Award winning HBO documentary series “The Jinx- The Life & Deaths of Robert Durst.” He also edited the feature films “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Catfish” (the documentary) and “Bleed for This.”

Pooja Rangan is an author and film scholar based in Western Massachusetts and New York. She teaches Film and Media Studies at Amherst College, and is the author of Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary (Duke UP 2017). Rangan serves on the board of the Flaherty Film Seminar, and has written for Feminist Media Histories, Film Quarterly, Camera Obscura, World Picture, and differences, among other venues. She is currently at work on a second book, tentatively titled The Skin of the Voice, that deals with the politics of accented speech and listening in documentary.

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Nov 3, 2017 at 10:00 am
Nov 5, 2017 at 5:00 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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