Film Training Manitoba

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Documentary Storytelling with Don White

October 16, 2015 - October 18, 2015

$25 – $150

(Part of the 2015 MANITOBA FILM EXPO Series)



In Partnership with ON SCREEN MANITOBA



Friday, Oct. 16th, 2015  |  6 pm – 9 pm  |  $25

Red River College – Princess Street Campus, 160 Princess St.  |  Room P107



Saturday, Oct. 17th & Sunday, Oct. 18th, 2015  |  10 am – 5 pm  |  $150

Red River College – Princess Street Campus, 160 Princess St.  |  Room P318



The lecture will cover structuring a documentary in two parts: Developing A Basic Documentary Structure, and Applying Dramatic Structure to Documentary Film.

Part I: Developing A Basic Documentary Structure

During this first part regarding structure, the following topics are discussed: common types and facets of documentary structure, differences and similarities between essay format and documentary storytelling, and what is needed to create the three necessary parts of structured narrative the beginning, middle, and end.

Part 2: Applying Dramatic Structure to Documentary Film

The second part covers the principles that lie behind dramatic three act structure, including: the nature and movement of dramatic acts, how dramatic units are combined to define the total structure, the different functions of major turning points, and how character development and conflict carry viewers inescapably from start to finish.



These sessions take participants through the process of applying a basic and a three act structure to a project of their own.

   ⇒  All attendees are asked to have a film project idea of their own that they can use as a model for the workshop exercises.

Over the course of two days, those attending the workshop will work in small groups, and through group activities, individual exercises, and instructor Q&A, participants will develop first a basic (day one) and then a three act (day two) structure for their own production.

Day One

Participants will:

  •  Develop the basic structure required for a documentary regardless of whether it uses ‘essay’ or ‘story’ format
  •  Define the beginning, the basic conflict/argument, and the ending of the film
  •  Address key elements of character arcs, turning points, set-up and pay-off common to all formats

Day Two

Working with the basic structure developed on day one, participants will:

  •  Apply a dramatic structure creating a three act documentary
  • Deepen major themes
  • Increase dramatic tension
  •  Prevent the dreaded “sagging middle” common to many long documentary forms


About the Instructor

Don White

DON WHITE has been a writer, director, producer, consultant, mentor, and teacher for over thirty years in the documentary film and video industries.

He has written and/or directed drama, corporate, and major educational documentaries and won over 20 international awards for film and video production.  Numerous films which he has workshopped have been broadcast on national and international television and many have garnered major awards.

Don has lectured regularly in the Documentary Program at Capilano University, North Vancouver, BC., and consulted with national and international filmmakers. Currently, he is a PhD candidate at Burnaby’s Simon Fraser University.



Film Training Manitoba Course Registration Policy

  • Participants must be 18 years of age or older to register and attend the course.
  • Participants must register in advance of the course. No drop-ins.
  • Registration is on a first come, first served basis – unless otherwise specified. Enrollment may be limited.
  • Registration for all courses, including weekend workshops, must be done between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday (except holidays).
  • All registrations must be received and confirmed in-person or by telephone with an FTM staff member during office hours. We do not confirm or accept registrations via email.
  • Payment in full is required to secure a spot in an FTM course.

Course Registration

Registration can be done in one of two ways:

In Person – cash, cheque, VISA and MasterCard, and debit are accepted. (Please make cheques payable to Film Training Manitoba.) Our offices are located at 100 – 62 Albert Street, in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. We are open to the public Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

By Phone – VISA and MasterCard only. Registrations are accepted via the main line at 204-989-9669. *We do not confirm or accept registrations via email.

Cancellation Policy

  • Participants must cancel up to 4 full business days prior to the course start date to receive an 80% refund.
  • No refund will be given to participants who cancel within 4 full business days before the course start date, or if they do not attend the course.
  • Film Training Manitoba reserves the right to cancel, or postpone, any course where a minimum registration level has not been met. Participants registered for a course that is canceled will receive a full refund.

Breaks and Refreshments

All course participants are responsible for their own lunch.


October 16, 2015
October 18, 2015
$25 – $150
Event Tags:


Film Training Manitoba


Red River College – Princess Street Campus
160 Princess Street
Winnipeg, R3B 1K9 Canada
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