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Feb 16, 2017 at 7:08 pm

The Fine Cut – An Intensive Seminar on Film Editing

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This Time Next Year, Directed by Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman
This Time Next Year, Directed by Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman


“The notion of directing a film is the invention of critics – the whole eloquence of cinema is achieved in the editing room.” – Orson Welles

While Welles’ quote is typically provocative, it is true that for many documentarians, the “cutting room” is where their film becomes a film. Editing is an undertaking at once emotional and practical, instinct-driven yet labor-intensive, that brings structure and meaning to the many hours of raw material. A solid collaboration with an editor can take a filmmaker’s vision for story and turn it into a concrete reality. But how to dive into this crucial stage of the process?

This workshop will expose a small group of participants (up to fourteen) to a diverse range of analysis and creative approaches to film editing, from hands-on practical issues like how to find the right editor, speaking their language, and creating a functional workflow, to in-depth discussions of more subjective questions, like how to develop the right approach for your story, and how different techniques make that story evolve. Over the course of the three days, participants will be guided by filmmakers, critics, editors, to a deeper understanding of the editing process in both theory and practice.

 Filmmaker, critic, and programmer Farihah Zaman (Remote Area Medical, This Time Next Year) will be leading this intensive. Guest instructors currently include filmmaker/editor Ben Garchar, and filmmaker/editor Geeta Gandbhir, with additional guests to be announced soon.

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When: Friday, May 29th to Sunday, May 31st, 10am – 5:00pm

Where: UnionDocs, 322 Union Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11211

Who is eligible?

Open to everyone. We are looking for students as well as editors, filmmakers, producers and theoreticians. Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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 in social practice and a project idea (if you have one), 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.

Please note: Participants *will not* be producing a piece during the week. Focus is on discussing contemporary practice and developing your project conceptually.


$385 for early bird registration by May 15 at 5:00pm. $450 regular.
Please note that the service charge is waived if payment is made via check.
Checks can be made out to UnionDocs and mailed to 322 Union Ave, Brooklyn NY 11211.

Technology Requirements:

In order to keep costs down, this workshop is a b-y-o-l, bring your own laptop. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.The computer programs will all be available in the open-source realm.
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DAY 1 – Friday, May 29 – Brass Tacks: Diving into the Editing Process


AM: Farihah Zaman

PM: Ben Garchar

A day of practical thinking, in terms of both concept and practice. Using her own experience as a jumping off point, Zaman will address when to begin the editing process, how to choose the right person, and how to clearly communicate your vision while still being open to collaboration. In the afternoon, Ben Garchar will discuss choosing software, how to create a workflow, and avoiding common  technical pitfalls.

DAY 2 – Saturday, May 30 – Thinking like an Editor

AM: Geeta Gandbhir

PM: Jem Cohen

The second day of the intensive delves further into how to conceive of and execute the construction of your film, whether that means working with an editor or cutting the project yourself. When should you start thinking about the edit? Does story guide the filming process, or should it emerge via the editing? Gandbhir will specifically discuss what her experience as an editor has taught her to keep in mind as a filmmaker, while Cohen will offer an exciting counterpoint in considering non-story driven work.

DAY 3 – Sunday, May 31 – Finding the Right Structure and Aesthetic


AM: Jeff Reichert

PM: T. Woody Richman

What is the right editing style for your film? The third day explores both conventional and unconventional approaches to structure, including an in-depth discussion of how to utilize different types of footage, such as interviews, archival material, scripted/narrative elements, reenactments, etc., and what choices made in editing then convey to critics and audiences in the finished film. Critic, filmmaker, and distributor Reichert will use examples from recent and older documentaries alike to illustrate how various editing techniques are perceived.

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

10:00am-10:30am: Warm up, inspiring references, watching exercises and training
10:30am-11:45am: Presentation of speaker
11:45am-12:30pm: Discussion with speaker
12:30pm-1:00pm: Share / Discussion / Exercise
1:00pm-2:00pm: Lunch (on your own)
2:00pm-3:15pm: Presentation of speaker
3:15pm-4:00pm: Discussion with speaker
4:00pm-5:00pm: Workshop Exercise
5:00pm-5:30pm: Workshop Critique


rsz_1farihah_zaman_hdFarihah Zaman is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker, critic, and programmer. Her diverse background in the film industry includes programming and serving on the Advisory Board of the Film South Asia documentary film festival, working as the Acquisitions Manager at Magnolia Pictures, and working as the Program Manager of The Flaherty, organizing their historic, contentious annual film seminar and launching a still-running monthly screening series at Anthology Film Archives. She is currently a staff writer at the film journal Reverse Shot, and has written for print and online for Filmmaker Magazine, Huffington Post, The Talkhouse, and AV Club, among others. Her first feature film Remote Area Medical (2) was released by Cinedigm and is now available online and on DVD. This was followed by the short Kombit (2014 Sundance Film Festival) and a second feature, This Time Next Year (which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival).

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unnamed-1Ben Garchar is a director and editor, most recently completing work on Alex Gibney’s “Sinatra: All or Nothing at All”.  Other credits include films that have been nominated for an Oscar, premiered on HBO, and have screened at festivals such as Sundance, Tribeca, and Full Frame.  As a director his work has shown at festivals such as Raindance, DC Shorts, Film Independent’s Cinema Lounge, and through Vimeo channel NebCinematics.

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unnamedGeeta Gandbhir has over eighteen years of varied experience in the fields of film, television and animation. She started out working as an animator for the legendary filmmaker Suzan Pitt doing pieces for MTV’s groundbreaking Liquid Television series, as well as Pitt’s film Joy Street which was featured in the New York Film Festival. Wanting to branch out and broaden her skills, she then transitioned into film editing, working with distinguished, award winning directors and producers such as Spike Lee, Robert Altman and Sam Pollard. In television, she has worked for PBS, MTV, Discovery, Court TV, Oxygen Media, HBO and many others. Recent works include the PBS series African American Lives with Henry Lewis Gates, the four hour documentary When the Levees Broke for filmmaker Spike Lee for which she won an Emmy Award for Best Editing. Most recent works include Which Way is the Frontline From Here? for HBO with author and Academy Award nominated director Sebastian Junger, What’s Going On; The Life Of Marvin Gaye for PBS American Masters, Amy Rice and Alicia Sam’s feature documentary By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, Executive Produced by Edward Norton and released by HBO, and Music By Prudence, a documentary produced in house by HBO and Director Roger Ross Williams, which won the 2010 Oscar for Best Short Documentary, a feature documentary entitled Budrus by Just Vision Films, which won Silver at the Berlin Film Festival and The Special Jury Mention Prize for Best World Documentary at it’s US premiere in the Tribeca Film Festival.

unnamed-14Jeff Reichert’s first feature film, Gerrymandering, premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival where it was named one of the best of the festival by New York Magazine. His second feature film, Remote Area Medical, had its world premiere at the 2013 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and has won numerous awards and screened at festivals across the U.S. It is slated for theatrical release in Fall of 2014. His short, Kombit, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, and he recently premiered his third feature, This Time Next Year, at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. He is the co-editor of the popular online journal Reverse Shot (reverseshot.org).


Jem Cohen’s feature length films include Museum Hours, Chain, Instrument, Benjamin Smoke, and Counting (2015 Berlinale premiere). Shorts include Lost Book Found and the Gravity Hill Newsreels. His films are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney, and have been broadcast by PBS, Arte, and the Sundance Channel. He’s had retrospectives at London’s Whitechapel Gallery and the Oberhausen, Gijon, and Punto de Vista film festivals. Grants include Guggenheim, Creative Capital, Rockefeller, and the Alpert Award in the Arts. He has collaborated with musicians including Fugazi, Patti Smith, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Vic Chesnutt, Terry Riley, DJ Rupture, and the Ex, as well as writer Luc Sante. His still photos have shown at Robert Miller Gallery and were highlighted in the New York Times. The multimedia live documentary, We Have an Anchor, played on the main stages at London’s Barbican (2015) and BAM’s Next Wave series (2013).

T Woody RichmanEditor T. Woody Richman, the longtime collaborator with Michael Moore, received a coveted American Cinema Editors nomination for his work on “Fahrenheit 9/11,” the top grossing documentary of all time. His many other credits include “Capitalism A Love Story” and the critically acclaimed Hurricane Katrina film “Trouble The Water,” an Oscar nominee and winner of Sundance, Full Frame, and many others.


Workshop Policies:

Registration & Cancellation: To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via PayPal. After the registration deadline of May 15th, 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.



Feb 16, 2017
7:08 pm

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