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Documentary Masterclass: Tom Zubrycki

AFTRS-Australian Film Television and Radio School (AH Account)

About the Course

This Masterclass is a unique opportunity for filmmakers to get up-close and personal with Tom Zubrycki, one of Australia's most celebrated documentary filmmakers who for the last 30 years has mapped Australia's changing social and political landscape.

Through a combination of screenings, demonstrations, and discussions Tom will explore both the creative and business aspects of documentary filmmaking in Australia, and give insights into how he has developed his voice, style and survival techniques.The aim of this course is to provide participants with an insight into the thoughts and production practices of one of Australian most successful documentary filmmakers, in order to inform and inspire their own work. Discussions of participants' own projects will be included in the class schedule.

Some of the topics discussed will be:

  • Documentary vs journalism. Truth, accuracy, and personal views.
  • Concept of global-local.
  • What stories fit what size?
  • Documentary styles and approaches: interview-driven, observational, essay, hybrid.
  • Crew roles - cinematographers, sound, and editing.
  • Writing outlines and treatments for broadcasters and screen agencies.
  • Story-driven narratives. Finding characters and building on them.
  • Negotiating access and following the action.
  • Shaping and developing the film in the edit.
  • Documentary ethics, building relationship with subjects.
  • Personal releases and legal aspects.
  • Surviving as a director in a small industry.
  • Finding a producer and getting your first documentary funded.
  • Philanthropy and Documentary Australia Foundation.
  • Budgeting a hour documentary for television.
  • Pitch-reels and trailers.
  • Finding an audience for your documentary. Distributors.
  • Festival strategy: Australia and overseas. Ozdox.

You are interested in documentary making and would like to get some personal insights from one of our Australias most inspiring filmmakers.

"Thank you so much for the Masterclass. It was inspiring and informative. We were very lucky to have a person with your expertise, success and wealth of experience teaching us for the weekend."

"Enjoyed the class very much!"

"Having guest speakers provided a valuable alternate view."

"Very good practical advice from Tom's expertise. He was very available to all the students."

Some knowledge of documentary making techniques would be as asset to get the full value from this course. For those with no knowledge or experience in the genre it might be a good idea to do the Intro to Documentary course first.

There will be some pre-viewing to do before course commencement which will be emailed to participants once you have enrolled.

Tom Zubrycki is one of Australia's most celebrated documentary filmmakers who for the last 30 years has mapped Australia's changing social and political landscape. His credits include Billal (1996), The Diplomat (2000), Molly & Mobarak (2003), Temple of Dreams (2007), The Hungry Tide(2011) and his new film Hope Road (2017). Tom is renowned for his particular observational story-telling style and his ability to get close to his subjects. He also works as a producer with both emerging and experienced filmmakers. His most recent documentary as producer is The Panther Within which follows a journey of discovery as the filmmaker/subject unravels the mystery surrounding his Aboriginal grand-pop, a boxer and vaudevillian.


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