Documentary Workshops

Wendy Smith’s Documentary Workshop is for students who already have some foundation of the four basic areas of digital filmmaking: camera, lighting, sound and editing.

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The goal is to plan and shoot one short documentary project to demonstrate student understanding of their acquired skills, within a documentary context. Working in small crews, students develop documentary techniques, aesthetic sense and point of view toward the material.

Week One:

Students familiarize themselves with the role of the interview in documentary and learn to plan, shoot and conduct a variety of interview styles. They practice handheld camera framing and movement and learn to cover simple live action as well as more complex scenes. The emphasis is on the ability to shoot from different angles of the action in order to facilitate editing. After pitching and doing preproduction for their final documentary, students begin shooting on Friday.

Week Two:

Shooting continues through Tuesday morning when rushes are screened. The instructor looks at assembled scenes as students work their way through the rough cut. During this directed edit lab, students assemble their footage and fine-tune it into a final version using Final Cut Pro software. This week concludes with a class screening and critique of the edited films.


Wendy is the greatest teacher I’ve had so far. We should really have her again through out the year. She has such an amazing way of teaching and I really felt that I learned A LOT from Wendy. Definitely one of the greatest weeks at CDIA so far.
~ Mayco, student at CD IA

She inspires her students to fall in love with film and discover themselves through the medium. I was amazed at the amount of information and knowledge that Dr. Smith had and was willing to share with her class. There are few times in a student’s life when an extraordinary teacher comes along to inspire the student to achieve what the student herself doesn’t know she is capable of achieving. Dr. Wendy Smith is such a teacher.
~ Rona, graduate student, VSW

One of the things I appreciated most about Wendy’s teaching method was her blend of technique and aesthetics. Wendy was expert at instigating stimulating discussions about the nature and art of documentaries, as well as giving concrete advice on such topics as camera work, workflow and editing. I really learned a lot in a very short period of time.
~ Forest, graduate student, VSW

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About Wendy Smith

Wendy SmithAfter completing my MA in Television/Film/Radio at the the Newhouse School of Public Communications (Syracuse University), I went to France to feed my passion for filmmaking at the Cinematheque Francaise, and became an expert at super-8 – 16mm film techniques.

While in France, I finished my Ph.D. film and dissertation at the University of Paris X, France, where I studied ethnographic film with Mr. Jean Rouch. My 400-page thesis is filed at the Bibliotheque Nationale and my film, “Perry in his Garden”, is co-distributed by the CNRS in Paris.

Back in the United States, I taught video production as well as film production at various New York State universities.

In addition, I made several films and videos. My documentary work became more experimental, incorporating digital processing and computer graphics with video. As a result, I won awards at several national and international festivals.

I continue to teach both film and digital production, work on my projects, and freelance as an video editor and writer/producer.

Read about my Teaching Philosophy.

I also practice and teach the Chinese healing art, Qigong, and have produced a new instructional DVD.

Currently, I am producing an experimental documentary on the way identity is negotiated across cultural and political boundaries. This piece, “Dwelling in Displacement”, will be Part III of my trilogy on memory, identity, and home.

Read my Artist’s Statement.

Download PDF resume.