“Both the theoretical and the practical parts of the day wound together really harmoniously — it was during the practice that I felt I really cemented my knowledge. It was very good for a beginner. I found the whole thing very informative and interesting” - Bethan
“Very good introduction with lots of great advice and tips - mass appetite to do more!- Anonymous
“I like the in-depth knowledge that the instructors were able to provide. I liked the related environment which made it comfortable” - Yasser
“This course gives a good and fairly wide range of understanding about filming/video." - Jenovah
“It was very clear, easy to understand and fun - I feel like I have learned a lot!" - Eve
“Very engaging and pitched at the right level.” - Friederike
“This is a fantastic introduction to the basics of film-making. Mark is a very skilled trainer and the course content was comprehensive and clear.” - Paula
Sophie and Oscar attended a Four Day Filmmaking Course at Spectacle in summer 2014. We interviewed them afterwards to find out why they chose to take the course and what they gained from the training.
What did you like most about the course?
“I liked that it was slightly longer than the weekend courses so [I] learnt more and got to do a mini project, I liked the size of the group which meant you really felt like you were getting one to one tuition and always had something to do, it also meant the group bonded and really helped each other out... read Sophie's full interview here
What did you like most about the course?
"What I liked most about the course was the indepth nature of it. The fact that I was taught the essentials so if I wanted to go out and film a documentary now I could - not to the standard of a seasoned professional, however I have the tools, I just need the seasoning!... read Oscar's full interview here
"It demystifies the process of filmmaking and provides an opportunity for hands-on work." - Rebecca
“I think the course would be very useful to anyone seeking an introduction to filmmaking. It was not only informative and practical but really fun! (..) It covered all of the key topics I needed to know about, it was perfectly pitched, the facilitators were clear and approachable, and there were opportunities to try out the equipment/roles.” - Rhiannon
“This is a fabulous comprehensive course that provides attendants with a good foundation on film-making. Combing theory and practical information, as well as an insight into industry standards and expectations.” - Kia
"I really enjoyed the course — now time to get back and put everything into practice!” -Halina
“Very relaxed, friendly and approachable. The course went through the step needed to set up the camera correctly in a really understandable way. We went through the pros and cons of different cameras which was very helpful. Practical exercises and crits afterwards were a great way of learning” - Izzie
"An affordable way to get a start. I am leaving feeling enthusiastic and confident about having a go” - Tim
“I have wanted to make videos for a few years now but online tutorials weren’t helpful. After this course, I feel I have the confidence to be able to do this now - I am very excited!” - Jessica
“It was a small group so things were easily explained if not understood, and the direction could be catered towards our needs” - Sarah
“I had no previous knowledge of the software, so I would have been completely scared of trying things on it — the course felt just right to begin this exploration and the information on codec and export was particularly helpful” - Sophia
University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute
“I had the opportunity to play and adapt with the camera and to understand how to use the different setting. [I would recommend the course] to anyone who needs a hands on approach to filmmaking principles." - Romelia Calin
“Concise yet comprehensive, now I feel like creating a worthwhile video from scratch.” - Aiora Zabala
“I found the introduction part was really useful, at the beginning of the day I didn’t know how to switch on the camera and at the end of the day I could take a shot. Mark really knows his subject, and I found the course motivating, practical and enjoyable. I came out with loads of ideas." - Kinne Gueye
“Real hands-on techniques and tips that I can relate to future projects and research. The facilitators were laid back (in a good way!) and very accommodating of our need to be flexible in organising the event — thanks!” - Adam Park
Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research
“The overall set up of the day was helpful: first, preparations for going outside to shoot and then feeling more comfortable handling the camera for the shoot. It was really helpful to look over recordings afterwards. The practice was very useful. I think a lot of people are looking for and interested in gaining more hands-on, practical experience and this course focuses on exactly that.” - Nas, Amsterdam
Contested Cities International Research Institute
" It was really useful to learn how to critically view the material we shot and be able to correct mistakes, understanding what works and why." - Anonymous
“The practical assignments were very useful, as well as watching the footage together afterwards. In two days you really get a feel of what you can do with a camera, theoretically as well as practically. Thanks for your enthusiasm and expertise!” - Lisanne
“ A must for people wanting to film their science.” - Hugh Tuffen
“I learnt a lot of very useful information and it has inspired me to try and find creative ways to communicate my research.” - Jacqueline Owen
Watford Borough Council
Angela Farrance, senior communications and engagement officer
"We work for a local authority, and want to promote our services, activities and places to visit in the most accessible and fun way, to a wide range of people.
I liked the flexibility that Spectacle offered; the training was completely bespoke and reactive to our needs, but still covered everything we wanted to learn.
The team had varying levels of experience, and all felt it was a really well spent few days. Everyone is very keen to get started!
I would recommend the training, and already have to fellow comms officers in Hertfordshire. Mark made the sessions fun, accessible and everyone is really excited to get filming.
“My one-week training at Spectacle was comprehensive and strategically pitched at the right level. Content delivery was interactive in a friendly environment facilitated by Mark and Michele. The one to one engagement I had was practical, which made it easy for me to ask many questions. I went to the field confident, fully equipped with the necessary skills I needed to train my participants and handling the camera was so much fun to the women and we recorded good research material (thank you Mark and Michele). I will definitely go back for more training in editing and possibly a one-month placement. For anyone interested in learning about film making Spectacle is the best place to be” - Zainab
"I was looking for a cost effective course to extend my marketing skills to be able to offer short digital video production for my clients. As a freelancer, a lot of courses I looked at were too long, with content I didn't need, and frankly too costly. Of course, part of me thought the Spectacle course was a suspicious bargain, but testimonials were strong and I liked how 'real world applied' the content looked.
I needn't have worried. Mark has a skill to extract exactly what you need from the course and flex content to suit you. My photography skills were basic at best, and decades old, but very swiftly updated! Hands on use of high quality camcorders straightaway means that you fly out of the blocks on that, and find yourself filming around Clapham getting the feel of things very quickly indeed. By the end of day one we'd interviewed, reviewed framing, focus and exposure issues, and - most eye opening to me - got the hang of how to record broadcast quality audio. Not to give too much away, by the end of day two we were in post production...
For me, the key was Mark's 'mindset' approach. So, of course, my technical skills will need hours of practice over the next few weeks, but unless your training gives you the mindset of a film maker, you might as well work your way through the manufacturer's manual. Mark covers how to keep swapping your hats, from thinking like a sound engineer to how to capture plentiful footage that's filmed in a away that doesn't prompt a performance or reaction, to maintaining the story thread (and safe files) through the edit process.
On editing, I have even less background than photography. But there's hands on time again, and most importantly a really in-depth comparison of software you can use, with differing tools and screen layouts. The same goes for kit options - there's no pressure to buy any one brand or configuration, and Mark discusses what you're likely to need specific to your setting. I have confidence now to choose what will suit me best, and even where to hunt for 2nd hand, which is a quantum leap from where I was.
Would I recommend Spectacle? Only grudgingly - it's my secret support system now, and I'm not sure I want to share... I shall definitely be going back."
Ella offers freelance marketing, profiling and coaching services to corporate organisations and individuals and plans to apply digital video production in all these settings.
“I think it’s an affordable way to dip a toe into this field” - Megan
“I like how it was adapted to mine and colleagues needs" - Abbie
“Mix of practical and theoretical aspects of filmmaking production. The pace was very good. Mark is excellent at explaining things clearly and taking you step by step” - Allan
“The practicals were very revealing — the disparity of what I thought I I’d shot to what I actually got! Also, the impact of quality audio was mind-blowing. I enjoyed the systematic approach to the theory — without reducing what is an exciting creative process to a ‘checklist’, it is fantastic to have logical principles to follow." - Anonymous
“Mark was very clear, very approachable and able to communicate his long experience in a way that someone new to video production can easily follow.” - Torri
“The technical overview gives you the confidence you need to be more creative when you’ve got the camera in your hand” - Anonymous
Michaela Benson, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London
SPECTACLE: Why did you choose digital video production skills?
MICHAELA: I do a lot of research in people’s houses looking at their relations with the wider residential environment... video can offer a way of introducing participatory elements into an academic research project, and can capture the visual experience of a research setting. I also think that it introduces a different way of communicating findings to our audiences. I wanted to develop these skills so I could apply them myself and start experimenting.
... I would definitely recommend the course. It broke the process of production into small steps that were easy to remember. Also, having a chance to put these into practice made me realise the benefits of this approach. This is a course that is perfect for anyone who wants to make a start at looking at including video production in their work.
Anne Toomey, PhD candidate, University of Lancaster
"I decided to do the training because I wanted to use film work in my research and I really had no idea about starting to do that - what kind of equipment to buy, things like that. Mark was just great because he really started from the idea that I wouldn't know anything, just moving up from there.
I did a two day course in June, and then based on that I was able to get started in July and August filming in the field and I've already produced two short documentary films and I'm on the third right now. All my training is from Spectacle.
I came back for the Four Day Course in November, that helped with building on just how much I knew already, and gave the basic instructions I needed to be able to do the documentary I'm working on now.
I would definitely recommend it to others. The idea with Mark coming up last year [Anne arranged a bespoke group course at her university] is that it would be annual thing, because a lot of researchers would benefit from the training. So I would definitely recommend it to others, other researchers and other people interested in film."
Anne did a Video Production Weekend Course for Anthropologists and Social Researchers last summer, and then returned to take a Four Day Filmmaking Course in the autumn. She also arranged for Spectacle to deliver a Bespoke Group Course at her University.
“This is the type of course every anthropologist should take” - Mattia Fumanti, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St. Andrews
“Practical, relaxed, hands-on, directed to people’s needs. [It was] really cool seeing the DVDs and hearing about your projects, sounds like really interesting stuff. [I'm] very supportive and impressed by their focus on participatory ethics etc, so very educated by the course and even happier to have done it at such a cool studio” - Rebecca Hudson, Student, UCL
“All parts were useful. The talk introduction was useful. The hands on practical was really good as it gave me confidence I can operate the equipment. Good course” - Zuzana Hrdlickova, Post-doctoral Research Associate, Goldsmiths University
"The practical part is when you really learn!” - Claudine Litvak, PhD candidate, Bristol University
“I was able to ask specific questions. Good intro for fellow anth students” - Jade Jackman, Student, LSE
“It really teaches you all the basics of the camera and how to use it properly in practice. But also indepth tips were given on a more advanced level. Mark was a very good instructor!” - Maartje Roelofsen, PhD candidate,Karl-Franzens-University Graz
“The hands-on experience with peers and in class feedback afterwards was most useful. Making mistakes is a great way to learn. A well considered programme, realistic in its aim. The course tutor delivered in a relaxed and well paced manner.” - Anonymous
“All very good; the practical stuff was good, that made the strongest impression, also the discussion about the footage we shot. This is a great intro to filmmaking, focused but very friendly atmosphere.” - Paul Cooke, Leeds University
“Useful for anthropologists who want to integrate research and visual images. And also to do advocacy - I was wondering how to do participatory filmmaking with a community.” - Diana
“The tutor and assistant were present and attentive the whole time. I could not ask for more in two days.” - Mariana
"The course is never boring and all parts work well together so concepts are clear. There are very few courses for anthropologists interested in documentary making that are practical.” - Anonymous
“The course gave me confidence to re-engage with the practice of filming/shooting images.” - Dimitris
“[The course] was fun, useful and definitely empowering for me to just be able to start filming, instead of stressing over how to begin and feeling incompetent. Mark was an excellent teacher, calm, entertaining and very clear. Had a really enjoyable time and learnt a bunch” - Marine Graham
“It’s a great format with a small group.” - Anna Davidson
“Everybody can learn something new and useful from Mark.” - Anonymous
“Gives concise, well informed background knowledge that allows one to start going out and filming.” - Anonymous
“Really useful and enjoyable course! Thanks Mark!” - Katie Orchel, Exeter University
“It is a good intro to those new to video or those who want to revise their skills. ABC of bringing video production to your project” - Matej Blazek, Loughborough University
“Thanks very much I found the way you work very inspirational.” - Anonymous
“Very accessible, methodical and applied. Gave me confidence to approach any camera and be able to find my way to make use of it.” - Irma Allen
“Mark is a lovely and engaging tutor - made it very easy to ask questions." - Phillida Cheetham
"It was really focused and accessible for someone who had no previous knowledge." - Ainhoa Montoya
“Simple, uncomplicated approach to something people are interested in but perhaps scared of trying out.” - Julie Botticello
“Most useful were the clear theoretical explanations, so I was able to really understand why the F. [aperture] should go up. But without the practical assignments outside it might not have stuck. It enables you to perceive the world as an outsider like you’re part of the scene. Very mindful experience. Super course, thanks a lot!” - Inge