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Mar 24, 2023 at 10:00 am – Mar 26, 2023 at 4:30 pm

Depths of Field: Expanding Cinematography in your Practice

With Alejandro Mejia, Jonathan Bogarín, Jenni Morello, Iris Ng, Kirsten Johnson & Joe Bender

If you would like to be added to the workshop’s waitlist e-mail: [email protected]

Please note: This workshop will be held in UnionDocs’ new space in Ridgewood!
We’re now at: 352 Onderdonk Ave, Ridgewood,  NY – 11385

Join UnionDocs and Emmy-nominated / Golden Frog Winner Cinematographer Alejandro Mejia, (306 Hollywood, 499, Bitterbrush, Sansón and Me) for three days of cinematographic exploration with an all-star array of acclaimed makers producing some of the most compelling visual work in the field! Looking closely at the work of several cinematographers, this workshop will combine skill-sharing and feedback sessions with more expansive conversations about documentary filmmaking today. We’ll address questions like how to create a singular or potent visual identity and approach and create poetic images that help your projects. What are the ways to build visual relationships between different worlds, different characters and different stories to tell?

With dedicated sessions from some of the top practitioners in the field, we’ll discuss and think through various modes and techniques to approach documentary and hybrid camera work. We will explore how to translate intentions into images, how to unify the language of a film when shooting in completely different environments. Discussions will help to connect varying styles of scenes or footage and dive into the mechanics of a director-cinematographer relationship with ample consideration of methodologies for working collaboratively.

On Friday, cinematographer Iris Ng whose body of work includes the Academy-shortlisted documentaries Stories We Tell and Shirkers will provide insight on how to imagine the style of a film from pre-production and how to prep for a shoot. On Saturday, interested participants will be able to share a work-in-progress and receive feedback from Alejandro and Emmy-nominated documentary cinematographer Jenni Morello (One of Us, Made in Boise, Aftershock). Director and cinematographer of the Emmy-winning feature 306 Hollywood Jonathan Bogarín will discuss the creative relationship with the director and how to approach hybrid projects as cinematographers. On Sunday, cinematographer of the Academy short-listed film Cameraperson Kirsten Johnson will explore the ethics of collaboration with documentary participants, and award-winning producer and director of photography Joe Bender (The Conspiracy, The Candidates) will close the weekend sharing his approach on how to set up an interview shot.

Cinematographers and filmmakers of all stripes, from those just starting out to those firmly established, join us for this  eye-opening conversation and come away with inspiration, and connections that will help to guide your own work!

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 cinematographers, filmmakers and media artists looking to develop the cinematic languages with which they can represent and incorporate movement.

$350 early bird registration by March 17th, 2023 at 11:59PM.

$400 regular registration.

For each workshop, UnionDocs will offer the equivalent of 2 full scholarships for participants from historically marginalized backgrounds, who are BIPOC, living with disabilities, or NYC artists earning under 30% AMI (Area Median Income).

Applicants should reach out to [email protected] in order to fill out a scholarship inquiry by March 13th, 2023.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until March 17th. After March 17th, 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 March 17th, 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, March 24: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:00am – 10:30am Welcome & intros
10:30am – 12:30pm Cinematography as a way to enhance a film’s storytelling with Alejandro Mejia
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Imagine a style from pre-production and prepping for shoots with Iris Ng (remote)
4:00pm – 4:30pm Wrap up,  additional exercises / discussion

Saturday, March 25: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:00am – 10:30am Warm up, inspiring references, case study, eye training
10:30am – 12:30pm Feedback on Participants’ work with Jenni Morello
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm How to approach hybrid projects as cinematographers and the creative relationship with the director, with Jonathan Bogarín
4:00pm – 4:30pm Wrap up, additional exercises / discussion

Sunday, March 26: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:00am – 10:30am Warm up, inspiring references, case study, eye training.
10:30am – 12:30pm Ethics of collaboration with documentary participants, with Kirsten Johnson (remote)
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Set up an interview shot with Joe Bender
4:00pm – 4:30pm Wrap up, additional exercises / discussion

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


First Workshop Session




Second Workshop Session


Wrap Up


Alejandro Mejia is a lefty Mexican-born and an Emmy-nominated cinematographer based in Brooklyn N.Y. His work has screened at Sundance, Berlinale, Tribeca, Toronto, Rio de Janeiro and Camerimage film festival, amongst others. Beyond his visual work as cinematographer, he also directed episodes of the TV show SESIONES for Sony Latin American Television and  co-produced A SECRET WORLD by director Gabriel Mariño, which was premiering 2012 at Berlin Film Festival.

Jenni Morello is an Emmy-nominated documentary cinematographer. She received critical acclaim for her cinematography on Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s ONE OF US, (Netflix, 2017) Beth Aala’s MADE IN BOISE (PBS 2019), and Paula Eislet and Tanya Lewis Lee’s AFTERSHOCK (Hulu/Onyx 2022.) Expanding on a strong foundation of advocacy-driven storytelling, Jenni recently worked on; They Call me Magic a series on Apple TV+  and a feature documentary about beloved author Judy Blume. She holds an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in social documentary film and was named to DOC NYC’s 40 under 40 list in 2018.

Iris Ng is a cinematographer whose most notable work turns a critical lens on social issues, justice, and filmmaking itself. Her body of work includes the Academy-shortlisted documentaries Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012) and Shirkers (Sandi Tan, 2018), as well as the award-winning films, A Better Man (2017), This River (CDN Screen Award 2017), Migrant Dreams (Canadian Hillman Prize for Journalism, 2017), Toxic Beauty (Int’l Emmy Award Nominee 2021), and Primetime Emmy Award-winning series Making A Murderer (2015 & 2018). She has also collaborated with filmmakers Fredrik Gertten, Vikram Jayanti, Richard Fung, Phillis Ellis and artists Chris Curreri, Oliver Husain, Luis Jacob, and Bambitchell. Iris shares a credit on the Sundance 2023-premiered Twice Colonized, and Netflix’s Money Shot: The PornHub Story which launches on March 15th. She also lensed the CBC prime time scripted series Strays Seasons 1 and 2 as well as numerous short films.

Jonathan Bogarín is an award-winning Venezuelan-American director, producer, and cinematographer known for his hyper creative approach to documentary. His Emmy-winning feature 306 HOLLYWOOD, called a “landmark” by rogerebert.com, premiered opening night of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, was featured in over 10 ‘best of 2018’ lists, played over 75 festivals, and was broadcast on PBS’s POV and Amazon Prime. Jonathan has been nominated for Critics Choice awards, was chosen for Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Film, and won the Emerging International Filmmaker Award at Hot Docs.

Jonathan is the co-director of El Tigre Productions where he creates innovative content and digital strategy for the world’s leading museums and brands including Google, MoMA, The Getty, The Whitney, Colección Cisneros, and The New York Times. He has received support from organizations including Sundance, Concordia Studios, Artemis Rising Foundation, Ford Foundation/Just Films, NYSCA, Latino Public Broadcasting, and IFP. Jonathan is currently developing a number of features and series including THE FUTURISTS, a Sci-Fi documentary about real-life Latinx visionaries who are creating the world of tomorrow.

Kirsten Johnson is a New-York based documentary producer, director and principal cinematographer on over 40 feature-length documentaries. Her most recent Academy short-listed film Cameraperson (2016) which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2016; 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 at the San Francisco International Film Festival and Sheffield International Documentary Festival. Earlier credits include her short film The Above (2015) which premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival, Deadline (2004) which she co-directed with Katy Chevigny, and The Oath (2010) which she shared the 2010 Sundance Cinematography Award with Laura Poitras. Kirsten was principal cinematographer on Academy Award-winning Citizenfour (2004), Academy Award nominated, The Invisible War (2012), Tribeca Documentary winner, Pray The Devil Back To Hell (2008), A Place at the Table (2012), and Derrida (2002). Her camerawork also appears in the Cannes 2016 premiere of Risk (2016) Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), Emmy Award winning Ladies First (2013), and Sundance premiere This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006).

Joe Bender is an award-winning producer and Director of Photography whose work spans all aspects of creative documentary. He most recently produced the animated feature documentary The Conspiracy. As DP, he most recently lensed Persona (CNN Films), shot and produced The Truth About Killer Robots (HBO), and filmed The Candidates, which premiered at DOC NYC. He produced the Sundance award-winning Our New President (2018) and was named among DOC NYC’s 40 under 40 (2018). Other recent work as Director of Photography appears in documentary films and series for Netflix, HBO, National Geographic, and PBS, and commercial work for Hewlett Packard, among others. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

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Mar 24, 2023 at 10:00 am
Mar 26, 2023 at 4:30 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
QUEENS, NY 11385 United States
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