Workshop Archive

Workshop New Media Documentaries

22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 November 2004

22 Nov 2004
26 Nov 2004

After the masterclass, 16 documentary filmmakers will develop and build pilot projects for new media documentaries in 5 intensive workshop days.
Through building their projects, participants find answers to questions like: how does the possibility of involving the audience lead me to new ways of conceiving, producing and publishing documentary film projects? How do interactive media affect the relations between me as author, my audience and the subjects of my documentary film? How can I deliver stories interactively?

Workshop tool is the Korsakow System, an elegant and powerful tool for making interactive film projects. Korsakow gives the possibility for hands-on experimentation with film in the new media context, with a minimum of technical hurdles. Korsakow projects can be published on cd-rom, dvd-rom and on the internet. Participants work with their own footage in this workshop. They can bring it, or shoot it during the workshop sessions.

The workshop closes with a public presentation and debate on the workshop results.
For more information about the masterclass, click here

Masterclass: 22 November 2004, morning.
Workshop sessions 22-26 November 2004

Masterclass: Cinerama 1
Workshop sessions: Pleinfoyer, Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam (main IDFA venue)

How much?
Participating in the workshop including the masterclass costs € 350 per person, this includes lunches, all necesary equipment and a festival pass to the IDFA festival.

To register, please mail to
Please include your name, address, nationality, a concise c.v, and a motivation to participate. For further information, please also mail to

Links |

Workshop Report

by Klaas Kuitenbrouwer

'Prototype your new media documentary' was the catchphrase that brought together 13 documentary makers in the stately Pleinfoyer of the Stadsschouwburg in the afternoon of November 25, 2004.

The Masterclass of that morning had served as a sightseeing tour along some eyecatching scenery in the realms of new media documentary. If it showed one thing, it was that new media offer fertile natural habitats for the documentary impulse to develop.

In the afternoon participants learned the Korsakow tool that would allow them to put their own proposals to the test in the coming days.
The interests among the participants, of course, varied. Some were looking for more direct ways of getting in touch with an audience, others looked for cheaper means of production. One or two were there out of time-slot claustrophobia, and yet others believed that the interactive way is the golden road to hitherto untold stories.
As always, most of the workshop days were dedicated to fast and concentrated work. At the quietest moments at least two discussions ping-ponged from abandoned concept to abandoned concept, the thick red carpets absorbing the higher pitched exclamations.
Every following late afternoon the trainers and participants explored some of the topics that surface when documentary film is treated with interactive media substance.

Relations between audience

The second afternoon session covered new possible relations between audience, makers and subjects of interactive documentary projects. Making a film follows a typical production cycle in which the audience is only involved after the production is over, and the film has reached its final form.
A new media production with its possible interactive dimensions suggests to involve audience(s) in different roles at different stages of the production and with different effects.
When publication already happens during the production process, the audiences' feedback on the project may influence its content - as was seen in 13er Stock, Florian Thalhofers latest many-media piece in collaboration with Kolja Mensing. The subjects -dwellers of a housing project in Bremen Nord- were also the first circle of audience. They could step inside the piece again, comment on previous statements, add information when somebody's claims were in need of correction.

Interactivity and Actuality

In the third afternoon session it was observed that 'the creative treatment of actuality' assumed a fresh and enticing potential when looked at from the perspective of interactive media. In interactive film (as in Korsakow projects) actuality gets an extra layer in the performance of the user: the maker can design one piece to manifest different meanings in the hands of different users at different heres and nows.
In this vein Mousumi De made a rhetorical dialogue-style project in which she proposed the nonviolent political tactics of Mahatma Ghandi as an inspiration for political action in the current state of turmoil in the world.
But this approach still involves an author who withdraws himself temporarily from the scene to compose his piece, whereas the strength of the current media sphere is immediacy.
Actuality can be witnessed 60 seconds per minute. The role of a new media documentary maker (as opposed to a journalist) could also be to design a process for the audience to witness actuality with a specific self-conscious flavour, that flavour being either political, historical, emotional, hysterical or what ever other combinations an author can think of.

This approach of designing communicative environments could be recognized in the work of Andre de Laat, who composed an ongoing piece on the state of the democratic process in the Netherlands. Built from snippets of interviews with Dutch people recorded since the killing of Pim Fortuyn it illustrates the public mood till the very recent murder of Theo van Gogh. In this piece, the roots of the legal system do not appear to be deeply embedded in the Dutch national consciousness. Basically it exposes the total incapability of the Dutch democratic ways to deal with disruptive events.

Interactive Esthetics

Since doing documentary things comes down to estheticising (aspects of) your world view, we asked ourselves the question: what ways of esthetisation are new media contributing to the documentary practice? This was the subject of the session of the fourth afternoon.
We talked about designing processes of involvement, about authors creating a dramaturgy for their users, rather then telling a story. This is what Karim Patwa was researching. His mysterious piece seemed to tell of an event during the IDFA Festival that had disturbed some visitors. This event slowly takes shape in the mind of the user, as he listens to different people who tell about their experience. The event itself is never described - the careful manipulation of the users' curiosity is what drives the piece. This technique is based on the possibility of a user to go to 'the next thing', which could never work in linear stories.
On a more formal level we talked about (multiple) interactive screens that require a thorough reconsideration of most cinematic techniques. This was what Marc Boumeester and Beate Lendt set out to do. Marc Boumeester shot his material at his own birthday (the 2nd workshop day) approaching numerous people with the simple statement: 'it's my birthday' and filming their reactions. He then grouped his film clips (SNU's in Korsakow lingo) in spatial, temporal and content related dimensions, allowing the Korsakow database to compose the piece in reaction to the users' choices.
Beate Lendt created a rhythmical multi-faceted film sequence that related the waking-up rituals from an intimate first-person perspective. Some people who played this project used the word ‘cubist’ to describe the way it treated traditional film vocabulary. Close ups of separate details of small events and actions related to waking up in the morning (switching the light on, opening the curtain, making tea, going to the toilet) were distributed over the four screens of the Korsakow System in such a way that a seamless total emerged which slowly moved forward along the clicks of the user.

This workshop is made possible with the support of the MEDIA PLUS PROGRAMME of the European Community and OCW