Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

Dec 2, 2016 at 9:30 am – Dec 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm

For Shorts’ Sake

An intensive dedicated to and about short form storytelling with Jeffrey Bowers, Doug Block, Charlotte Cook, Cara Cusumano and Liz Cook.

This weekend intensive will explore the multi-faceted nature of shorts. Participants will look at the variety of shorts, the way these films are made, produced and distributed today, and the role they play in filmmakers’ creative careers. Traditionally, shorts are considered a stepping stone to making a feature film, but they also have their own set of exciting possibilities. Often more affordable, short films can take more risks, be more experimental, and cover stories that can’t be told otherwise, sometimes reaching large audiences online. The course will also cover the development of multi-format, episodic documentaries and the growth of on-demand viewing, online platforms, and new intersections between journalism and film production.

Led by film curator Jeffrey Bowers (Vimeo, VICE), this seminar brings together several guest speakers, thinkers and practitioners from different backgrounds—filmmakers, producers and film programmers. Participants will learn from these top leaders of the film and media industries and receive direct feedback to their questions and personal projects.

This theoretical and practical weekend intensive is designed for a small group of professionals (15 people maximum) and will expose participants to a broad range of analysis and creative approaches to contemporary practice of short filmmaking.

Over the course of the weekend, we will cover the creative processes of filmmaking and producing shorts, aesthetics and storytelling techniques, the specific modes of funding and circulation for shorts, the development of multimedia, multi format and episodic documentaries and more.

Participants will also hear more about on-demand viewing, online platforms and the new intersections between journalism and film production. This workshop is two and half days; please only enroll if you can commit to the entire schedule.


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for filmmakers, film producers, journalists, curators and media artists.

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 November 14th, 2016 at 5PM.

$400 regular registration.

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 PayPal. After the early bird registration deadline of November 14th, 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, Dec 2, – 2:30 - 5:30p

Jeffrey Bowers on the aesthetics of shorts, online distribution (free and VOD) and the power of short form storytelling

This afternoon program will be followed by a public screening in the evening (free for the participants of the workshop)

Saturday, Dec 3 – 10:00a - 5:00p

AM: Cara Cusumano on making your first film and the presentation/circulation of shortforms

PM: Doug Block on directing and producing short films

Sunday, Dec 4 – 10:00a - 5:00p

AM: Andrew Blackwell on editing and producing short documentaries

PM: Charlotte Cook on producing shorts and the intersection of news, art and film

PM: Liz Cook on funding and audience engagement

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


Warm up, inspiring references, case study, eye training.


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




Share / Discussion / Exercise


Lunch (on your own)


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




Workshop Exercise + Critique


Wrap Up


Jeffrey Bowers is a Senior Curator at Vimeo, where his responsibilities include selecting Staff Picks, contributing to the just-announced Staff Pick Premieres program, and running the Vimeo On Demand curation. For the past four years he has curated VICE media’s VICE Shorts and written the column “I’m Short, Not Stupid.” His background includes programming features and shorts for Tribeca Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, Rooftop Films, and the Athens International Film + Video Festival. Because of his broad expertise, he’s served on juries and participated in speaking engagements at places like SXSW, DOC NYC, Palm Springs Shortsfest, Nantucket Film Festival, and IFP.

Doug Block is a New York-based filmmaker whose work includes some of the most acclaimed feature documentaries of the past two decades.

Doug’s previous film, 51 Birch Street, was named one of the 10 Best Films of the Year by the New York Times, The Chicago Sun-Times and the Ebert & Roeper Show, and it was selected as one of the outstanding documentaries of the year by the National Board of Review, the Boston Society of Film Critics and Rolling Stone Magazine.  The film garnered numerous awards, including Best Overall Program at the 2008 Banff Television Awards.  51 Birch Street screened at dozens of international film festivals, followed by a 9-month U.S. theatrical release. It aired on HBO, ZDF/Arte, Channel Four and many other stations worldwide.

Doug’s first film, The Heck With Hollywood! screened at over two dozen international film festivals before being released theatrically in the U.S. by Original Cinema. The film was broadcast on PBS and Bravo in the U.S., and throughout the world.  His second feature was the Emmy-nominated film Home Page, a look at the early days of online culture.  Called “Groundbreaking” by Roger Ebert, the film screened at the Sundance and Rotterdam Festivals and was broadcast on HBO, IFC and in Europe after a theatrical release.

His credits as producer  include: Silverlake Life (Sundance Grand Jury Prize, Peabody, Prix Italia),Jupiter’s Wife (Sundance Special Jury Award, Emmy), Paternal Instinct (Best Feature Film – NY Gay & Lesbian Film Festival), A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory (top doc prizes at the Berlin and Tribeca film festivals) and The Edge of Dreaming, which aired on POV earlier this year.  He is currently executive producer of the 2011 Sundance award-winner Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles.

Doug is also the founder and co-host of The D-Word, a popular international online discussion forum for documentary professionals.

Cara Cusumano is a filmmaker and the Director of Programming for the Tribeca Film Festival, where she has programmed feature narrative and documentary films since 2008.  Prior to Tribeca, she programmed for the Hamptons International Film Festival, including curating HIFF’s signature Conflict & Resolution competition and Oscar-qualifying shorts program, and has also worked with film organizations including the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Brooklyn International Film Festival, IFP, POV, and Chicken & Egg.  She frequently serves on festival juries and panels, among them CPH:DOX, SANFIC, Silverdocs, Docville, Nordisk Panorama, and the Nantucket Film Festival, and is a member of the nominating committees for the Cinema Eye Honors, the International Documentary Association Awards, and the Gotham Awards.  She holds degrees from Barnard College and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

The Bloop is her first film.

THE BLOOP (2016 | 7 min.)

In August of 1997, an unusual ultra-low frequency sound was detected emanating from a point 1,500 miles west of the southern coast of Chile. It was recorded by hydrophones located 5,000 miles apart, making it the loudest unidentified underwater sound ever recorded. It lasted for one minute and was never heard again.

Charlotte Cook is a film curator, writer and producer. Prior to Field of Vision, she was the Director of Programming at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival. In London, Charlotte was the Head of Film Programming and Training at The Frontline Club, an organization dedicated to championing independent journalism and freedom of expression. She has also worked with BBC Storyville, the Channel 4 BritDoc Foundation’s Puma Creative Catalyst Fund and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where she curated the strand Conflict | Reportage. Charlotte holds a degree in Technology for the Media and has a Masters Degree in Documentary Filmmaking. She has written extensively for a number of different outlets and was the main photographic researcher for the launch of The Times Online (UK) archive project. Charlotte continues to program at a number of festivals and venues, mentor filmmakers and advise organizations on media literacy, audience development and festival strategy.

Liz Cook is the director of documentary film at Kickstarter. Previously she has worked in France with the U.S. State Department, in India with A.R. Rahman, composer and musician, and in NYC as the acquisitions manager for the digital distributer, SnagFilms. She has spoken at a variety of film festivals including IDFA, TIFF, Cannes, Sheffield Doc Fest, Hot Docs, CPH DOX and Sundance.

Andrew Blackwell is the Supervising Editor of Op-Docs, the New York Times’ acclaimed series of short documentaries by independent filmmakers. An Emmy-winning documentary editor and producer, he is also a nonfiction journalist and author of the book Visit Sunny Chernobyl — about exploring the world’s most polluted places.

+ Register


The numbers below include tickets for this event already in your cart. Clicking "Get Tickets" will allow you to edit any existing attendee information as well as change ticket quantities.
Tickets are no longer available


Dec 2, 2016 at 9:30 am
Dec 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm
$350.00 – $400.00

Support UnionDocs’ next phase and new building by becoming a member

Peek in the window of our bustling building in NYC and tune into the ideas and energy bubbling up from the UNDO Center.

Tune into cutting-edge, powerful and poetic documentary programs and connect to conversations with the artists and thinkers passing through.

Now available at the Apple Store.



Unlimited access to all of our monthly offerings for the price of two espressos.



Keep it simple and save. Unlimited access to our sweet offerings for a reduced, annual fee and receive some added benefits.



In the neighborhood, a working artist, student or senior? This membership is for you. Fill out a quick form for a discount code to an annual membership.



Get all of the benefits of the Annual UNDO Membership plus an annual subscription to UnionDocs Editions, a set of publications, merchandise or special objects.

UnionDocs is grateful for support from:

UnionDocs is hiring. 

Join the UnionDocs team.

Pod Pod 2023 Group 02

Pod Pod is now accepting applications.
Apply today!

Calling all AUDIO MAKERS looking for a bit of motivation, peer support, collective production and a dose of inspiration for your personal project —  join us for 3 months this Fall!