*** Please note that this course may vary from the following outline depending on teacher and course duration. Each teach will follow a similar model and content is very similar, but this page hopes to give you a general understanding of what to expect. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any course specific questions.***




Professor: Enrique Colina

Assistant: Rebecca Radmore

International Film and Television School, San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba


Tell Me a Story

Course Outline (PDF Version)

Available Here


Tell me a story...

AIM & Methodology


The aim of this workshop is to analyse documentary film in order to provide the student with the necessary tools to make his or her own documentary.


Based on a theoretical analysis of the best examples of documentary film alongside hands-on experience of how to make a documentary, this workshop offers, over a four-week period, a study programme designed to perfect the participants’ ability to tell a story within a documentary format.

tell me a story...


  1. The Dramatic Principles Underlying Documentary Narrative
    a. What is fiction? What is a documentary?
    b. The conflict within the documentary and its dramatic potential

  2. Setting the Scene in a Documentary
    a. predictable dramatic action
    b. unpredictable dramatic action
    c. docudrama
  3. The Construction of Character
    a. The character tells his story
    b. The character acts
    c. Other individuals talk about the character
    d. An omniscient narrator presents the character off-screen andcomments on his story
    e. The choral character
    f. The director as a dramatic character, as an observer who is

    present, or as the “transparent, neutral and objective” director
    g. The character and his environment: dramatic location

  4. Narrative Structures
    a. Organisation of the event in temporal terms
    b. The chronological approach
    c. Re-structuring time
    d. Lack of temporal structure
    e. Structuring the narrative via association based on logic or an underlying concept, 

    by gradually adding new elements, or via a spiralling structure
    f. Ideological montage and the use of a metaphorical idiom in documentary film

  5. Documentary Genres and Styles
    a. The shaping of information within the documentary
    b. Journalism and the artistic documentary
    c. The observation-based documentary: Direct Film, Free Cinema, Cinéma vérité
    d. The documentary built around a conceptual thesis
    e. The documentary as propaganda
  6. Ethical Conflict and Documentary Praxis
    a. Expressive modes and the manipulation of the spectator’s emotions
    b. Emotion, irony, ambiguity
  7. Construction and Style of Communication Devices
    a. The interview
    b. Graphics
    c. The narrator
    d. The use of archive material
  8. The Various Steps of Production
    a. The idea and the artistic hypothesis
    b. Research: the tactical documentary filmmaker
    c. The Synopsis: how to deal with funding and how to look for funding
    d. The documentary with or without a script
    e. The shooting schedule
    f. Post-production

Weeks 1-2

Practical Exercises on How to Tell Stories

Hands-on exercises carried out individually
a. This is what I’m like…
b. That person over there is like that..
c. This is what this place is like…
d. This event took place here…
e. I think the following about this issue..

Weeks 3-4

Team-based Projects
f. Project implemented by a team and built around a pre-selected theme

Tell me a story



  • Classes in the morning from 9 am until 1 pm
  • Hands-on filming projects in the afternoon
  • On Saturdays and Sundays there will be more wide-ranging hands-on filming projects






Week 1AMTheory classes with ColinaEICTV film school, San Antonio de los BañosEICTV apartments, San Antonio de los Baños
PMIndividual practical exercises
Week 2AMTheory classes with ColinaUniversity of San Jeronimo, HavanaCasa Gaia, Havana Vieja
PMIndividual practical exercisesVarious locations in Havana
Week 3AMTeam-based projects – Filming a documentaryVarious locations in HavanaCasa Gaia, Havana Vieja
Week 4AMTeam based projects – Editing a documentaryEICTV film school, San Antonio de los BañosEICTV apartments, San Antonio de los Baños
  • Please note: This timetable is subject to change

Tell Me A Story...

Technical Support

Students who have their own cameras and laptops with editing facilities will be able to use their own equipment for the individual-based, hands-on projects (weeks 1 and 2). The Film School will provide digital cameras, editing suites, and a full film crew (producer, editor, cameraman, sound technician) for the team-based filming project (weeks 3-4). Transport to approved shooting locations will also be provided.


Find out more

Have a look through our pages to find out more about this year's Summer Documentary School...