Apr 8, 2022 at 10:00 am – Apr 10, 2022 at 3:00 pm
Art of the Interview
With Pacho Velez, Khalik Allah, Yoni Brook, Daniel Garber, Stephanie Jenkins & Penny Lane
Join UnionDocs and filmmaker Pacho Velez (Searchers) for a three-day intensive that will unpack one of the most effective and common tools in the documentary toolkit: the interview. We’ll go beyond the unimaginative ways the interview is often employed and share tips for getting material that can drive emotion and a complex narrative forward.
Together, we’ll tackle the pitfalls of the “talking head” and look at the ways that interviews can be used in more expansive ways. Through seminars and exercises, participants will each, in their own way, push the boundaries of the interview, and learn how to put this new knowledge into practice.
The leads for this workshop hail from a variety of different crew positions and will therefore be able to speak to the roles that all members of a documentary team play in crafting an interview from pre-production to the shoot itself to the edit. Stephanie Jenkins of Florentine Films will discuss her work as a producer and how she conducts pre-interviews and prepares for final interviews within the context of a larger team. Yoni Brook (Philly DA) will discuss how his work as a cinematographer informs his approach to interviewing subjects as both a DP and as a director. Dan Garber (Some Kind of Heaven) will discuss how he works with interviews in the edit, and Penny Lane (Listening to Kenny G) and Khalik Allah will describe their different approaches to directing interviews.
This workshop is open to filmmakers, audio creators, journalists, scholars and anyone who’d like to delve into expansive ways of capturing compelling interviews. Current projects are not required to attend, but encouraged!
NOTE: This workshop will require in-person participation from all participants. Each participant must present proof of vaccination . Any and all questions, please reach out to [email protected].
Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for documentary filmmakers, aspiring podcasters, journalists, and media artists. This workshop is in person and will be conducted in compliance with CDC protocols.
Give us an idea of who you are and why you are coming. When you register you will be asked for a short statement of interest that should briefly describe your experience and a film project (it would be great if you have a project in progress that you would present to the group during the work-in-progress critique sessions), plus a bio. There’s a spot for a link to a work sample (and CV, which would also be nice, but is not required).
$350 early bird registration by April 1st, 2022 at 11:59PM.
$400 regular registration.
The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until April 1st. After April 1st, 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.
NOTE: To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash . After the early bird registration deadline of April 1st, 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.
Introduction with Pacho Velez
Directing Interviews with Khalik Allah
Producing Interviews with Stephanie Jenkins
Filming Interviews with Yoni Brook
Editing Interviews with Dan Garber
Directing Interviews with Penny Lane
Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:
Pacho Velez directs nonfiction films. His most recent feature, Searchers, premiered at Sundance 2021. Alternately humorous and touching, the film draws on encounters with a diverse set of New Yorkers as they navigate their preferred dating apps, searching for their special someone.
His last film, The American Sector (2020, co-directed with Courtney Stephens), premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. His previous features, Manakamana (2013, co-directed with Stephanie Spray) and The Reagan Show (2017, co-directed with Sierra Pettengill), have played around the world, including at the New York Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, and on CNN.
In 2010, Pacho received his MFA from CalArts. In 2015, he was awarded a Princeton Arts Fellowship. At present, he is Assistant Professor of Screen Studies at The New School in New York City.
Khalik Allah (b.1985) is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker whose work has been described as “street opera” simultaneously visceral, hauntingly beautiful and penetrative. Khalik’s passion for photography was sparked when he began photographing members of the Wu-Tang Clan with a camera he borrowed from his dad. Real and raw, his profoundly personal work goes beyond street photography. His eye for daring portraiture and bold aesthetics takes us into an entire world. While the people he photographs on the corner of 125th and Lexington Avenue in Harlem have been his central inspiration, his work also extends to documentary film with “Field Niggas”, a chronicle of summer of nights spent at the intersection of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue. The film takes its name from Malcolm X’s famous lecture, “Message to the Grassroots.” Khalik shoots with a manual, analogue film camera, as photography and film-making form a venn diagram in his work.
Yoni Brook is a film director, producer, and cinematographer. As a director, his films have screened at Sundance, Berlinale, New York and Toronto Film Festivals, and True/False. His credits include the 8-part docuseries PHILLY D.A. (PBS/Topic, Gotham Award Winner “Best Breakthrough Nonfiction Series”, Film Independent Spirit Nominee), MENASHE (Film Independent Spirit Nominee, A24, dir. Joshua Z Weinstein) and VALLEY OF SAINTS (Film Independent Spirit Nominee, Sundance World Dramatic Audience Award Winner, dir. Musa Syeed). For PBS’s POV series, Brook co-directed BRONX PRINCESS (with Musa Syeed). Brook also co-directed THE CALLING, a four hour docuseries about young religious leaders for PBS Independent Lens. His directorial debut, A SON’S SACRIFICE won Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival, IDA’s Best Documentary Short, and broadcast on PBS Independent Lens.
Daniel Garber is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker whose work straddles fiction and nonfiction. Primarily employed as an editor, he was nominated for a Cinema Eye Honors award for his work on Sierra Pettengill & Pacho Velez’s The Reagan Show. Since then, he has edited Garrett Bradley’s Naomi Osaka, Lance Oppenheim’s Some Kind of Heaven, Daniel Goldhaber & Isa Mazzei’s CAM, and a forthcoming film by Sarah Adina Smith, as well as short films for Sierra Pettengill, Nan Goldin, and Zara Meerza. His work has screened at festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, Rotterdam, Locarno, Visions du réel, AFI Fest, and True/False. In 2021, he was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film.
Stephanie Jenkins has over a decade of experience seeing documentary films from development to delivery. She has worked with Ken Burns and Florentine Films since 2010, on multiple projects including their eight-hour series Muhammad Ali (PBS, 2021). Past projects include The Central Park Five, Jackie Robinson, and East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story. I was a 2018 – 2019 Impact Partners Producing Fellow. She has multiple independent documentary projects in development.
She has contributed archival research to non-fiction media outlets such as WNYC’s Radiolab and Spike Lee’s Forty Acres and a Mule Productions. She has also worked with filmmakers as a consultant on archival workflow and research, and spoken on panels on the subject, at DOC NYC, ACSIL Expo, and Craft Ed. Seminars, among others.
Penny Lane, a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, has been making innovative nonfiction films for over a decade. In 2018 she was honored with a Chicken & Egg Breakthrough Award, received the Vanguard Award at SF DocFest, and was admitted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She has been honored to receive mid-career retrospectives at the Museum of the Moving Image, San Francisco DocFest, Open City Documentary Festival and Cinema Moderne.
Penny has made five feature-length documentaries, most recently LISTENING TO KENNY G (Toronto 2021) for HBO. Previously, she directed HAIL SATAN? (Sundance 2019), THE PAIN OF OTHERS (Rotterdam 2018), NUTS! (Sundance 2016) and OUR NIXON (Rotterdam 2013). Penny’s short films are distributed by VTAPE and include titles such as THE VOYAGERS (2010), JUST ADD WATER (2016) and WE ARE THE LITTLETONS: A TRUE STORY (2004).
Penny received her MFA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her BA from Vassar College. She was a college professor for over a decade, teaching film, video and new media art at Colgate University, Bard College, Hampshire College and Williams College. And yes, Penny Lane is her real name.
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