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Jan 19, 2018 at 10:00 am – Jan 21, 2018 at 5:00 pm

Speaking Truth to Power: A Workshop on Investigative Documentary

With lead instructor Hilke Schellmann

Registration not yet open.

Please sign up for the registration waitlist below to receive updates regarding any openings.

There has never been a more challenging, a more interesting and a more important time to be an investigative journalist than today. We now live in a time where the very basics of journalism – the search for facts and accuracy – are questioned. In these turbulent times, there has never been a greater need for investigative journalism and for the press as a watchdog holding government and the powerful accountable.

This weekend intensive explores the power of investigative documentaries in all visual genres: feature docs and shorts, illustrations and new forms of storytelling like motion graphics and VR/360. Participants, a small group of 15 people (max), will learn from these top leaders of the film and media industries and receive direct feedback to their questions and personal projects.

Led by Emmy-award winning investigative journalist Hilke Schellmann (VICE, Frontline, NYU Journalism) this seminar brings together several guest speakers, thinkers and practitioners from different backgrounds—investigative journalists, filmmakers, doc funders and commissioning editors.

During the weekend intensive you will learn how to do investigative reporting: how to spot and report impactful stories that are hiding in plain sight. How to use social media to find and report investigative stories and how to background and triangulate people using simple online tools.

Participants will dissect investigative documentaries with the filmmakers and learn step-by-step how they report the stories, conduct accountability interviews and make visually compelling documentary. The course will also cover how to corroborate and fact-check stories, get funding for your investigative docs and show how new forms of visual storytelling like VR/360 and illustrations have given investigative journalism new life. Over the course of the weekend, participants will have ample time to workshop pitches and present visual material to our guests.


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).

$295 early bird registration

$350 regular

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until the early deadline. After the early deadline, 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, 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, Jan 19 –


Saturday, Jan 20 –


Sunday, Jan 21 –


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


Warm up with introductory questions + viewing exercises


Presentation by guest speaker + discussion


Lunch (on your own)


Presentation by guest speaker + discussion


Discussion + sharing of work


Wrap up with closing questions


Hilke Schellmann is an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker and assistant professor of journalism at NYU’s Carter Institute. She most recently worked as a producer for VICE’s Emmy-award winning HBO series. Hilke also produced, shot and directed the documentary Outlawed in Pakistan. The film was dubbed “among the standouts” at the Sundance Film Festival by The L.A. Times and called “extraordinary” by Variety. Outlawed in Pakistan aired on PBS FRONTLINE and won an Emmy Award among many others.

Hilke’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Glamour, ARD, ZDF, TIME and The Atlantic as well as on WYNC. From 2009 to 2012, she spearheaded video coverage as a Multimedia Reporter for the New York section at The Wall Street Journal.

Hilke is a Fulbright scholar and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She also received a master’s degree in Cultural Studies and Political Science from the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. She is one of the co-founders of the the non-profit Center for Documentary Art UnionDocs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


Jan 19, 2018 at 10:00 am
Jan 21, 2018 at 5:00 pm


BROOKLYN, NY 11211 United States

UnionDocs is grateful for support from:

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