Documentary: Developing a True-crime Film

$190.00

4 weeks. Starting April 27

Online LIVE class meets Mondays

4 PM U.S. Pacific Day Time (PDT)

7 PM U.S. Eastern Day Time (EDT)

Documentary: Developing a True-crime Film

$190.00

4 weeks. Starting April 27

Online LIVE class meets Mondays

4 PM U.S. Pacific Day Time (PDT)

7 PM U.S. Eastern Day Time (EDT)

Documentary: Developing a True-crime Film

$190.00

4 weeks. Starting April 27

Online LIVE class meets Mondays

4 PM U.S. Pacific Day Time (PDT)

7 PM U.S. Eastern Day Time (EDT)

Learn how to make true-crime documentary from writing to the final edit. 

Get immersed into the popular genre of true-crime documentaries  and understand different themes, styles and creative approaches. Students will apply this knowledge in the development of their own projects.

Through the course, we break-down popular true-crime documentaries and analyze their story structure, character development and approach. Examine case studies, production challenges, interview techniques, and how to develop trust with the criminals, accused, and people involved in the case. Learn how to write a treatment and how to approach the technical and production aspects of producing a true-crime documentary.

The highlight of each week is a 1-hour class taught LIVE, where you can interact directly with the instructor and other classmates. You can also access recorded files of the classes and supporting materials at any time during the course. After each class, the students work on assignments and practical exercises, and receive feedback from the instructor. At the end of the course, you will have developed your own project.

At the end of the course, the student will gain the knowledge necessary to produce a treatment for a strong, cohesive true-crime documentary film or series.

*Image above: Frame from The Hydra, by Ram Devineni. Courtesy of Rattapallax Films.

Instructor

Ram Devineni

Ram Devineni produced The Russian Woodpecker, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. He produced and directed the true-crime documentary, The Karma Killings (2016) about the Nithari serial murders in India. The film was exclusively released worldwide on Netflix and now on Amazon Prime. He directed a feature documentary, The Hydra (2019), about drug trafficking after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which has been recently released worldwide on dozens of plat...

Instructor

Ram Devineni

Ram Devineni produced The Russian Woodpecker, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. He produced and directed the true-crime documentary, The Karma Killings (2016) about the Nithari serial murders in India. The film was exclusively released worldwide on Netflix and now on Amazon Prime. He directed a feature documentary, The Hydra (2019), about drug trafficking after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which has been recently released worldwide on dozens of platforms, including Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, and it’s also available on Blu Ray. He is also the creator of the augmented reality comic book Priya’s Shakti and Priya’s Mirror, which received the Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund from the Ford Foundation and supported by the World Bank, and showcased at 2016 New York Film Festival. For creating India’s first female superhero who is a rape survivor, he was named a “gender equality champion” by UN Women. He was named by Fast Company magazine as one of the most creative people in business in 2017 for his innovative use of augmented reality to address social issues. Read article about Ram Devineni's work.

Instructor

Ram Devineni

Ram Devineni produced The Russian Woodpecker, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. He produced and directed the true-crime documentary, The Karma Killings (2016) about the Nithari serial murders in India. The film was exclusively released worldwide on Netflix and now on Amazon Prime. He directed a feature documentary, The Hydra (2019), about drug trafficking after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which has been recently released worldwide on dozens of platforms, including Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, and it’s also available on Blu Ray. He is also the creator of the augmented reality comic book Priya’s Shakti and Priya’s Mirror, which received the Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund from the Ford Foundation and supported by the World Bank, and showcased at 2016 New York Film Festival. For creating India’s first female superhero who is a rape survivor, he was named a “gender equality champion” by UN Women. He was named by Fast Company magazine as one of the most creative people in business in 2017 for his innovative use of augmented reality to address social issues. Read article about Ram Devineni's work.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    True-crime documentaries as a genre and how to start.

    • What is your motivation for making a true-crime documentary?
    • Types of true-crime documentaries: court dramas, police dramas, family/criminal dramas.
    • Finding the true-crime for you. Who is the access point?
    • Review popular documentaries to understand: perspective, structure, and style.
  • Week 2

    Some simple rules of mystery.

    • Putting yourself into the documentary or not?
      Is the mystery solved? What is new or missing? How to engage the audience?
    • Be objective and present multiple truths. It’s okay to go in with a perspective, but be willing to change if you are wrong.
    • Be thorough with information, but you will need to decide on what is important.
    • Being an authority does not make you right – question the police and other authorities, but eventually you will have to make a decision on who is right.
    • Is there a greater truth? What does the case tell us about society or the legal system?
    • Concluding with a mystery. Leaving some open-ended questions. Creating “water cooler discussions.”
    • Figuring out a style for your film: you investigate, someone investigates, just the story, creative storytelling, unfolding before your eyes, resolved case.
    • Break down the different stages of a documentary from research, production post-production and distribution.
  • Week 3

    The process of making a true-crime documentary.

    • What is the level of access? Is the story told through footage? Do you have access to the main players, to police files and cops? Legal documents sealed or not? On-going case? Why are they talking to you? What is the level of danger? Your film may become evidence. How to make contact?
    • Equipment and commitment.
    • Notes from making a true-crime documentary .
    • Working with crews, partners, and different equipment.
    • How to conduct proper interviews.
    • Framing and audio lessons.
    • Handling permissions.
  • Week 4

    Structuring the true-crime documentary.

    • Organizing your editing process and the art of editing.
    • Post-production Process. What is missing?
    • How to edit to create tension and emotions.
    • The structure of the documentary from opener to the cliff-hangers to closing.
    • Almost done – what to do now?
    • Festivals, and getting the documentary released.

How our classes work

IAFA’s online courses are handled inside Blackboard, one of the most advanced LMS platforms for online education. Blackboard integrates its platform with a tool called Collaborate. Collaborate is a virtual classroom where students and instructor can interact using a camera and a microphone.

You will watch the instructor speak live, and will be able to ask questions and interact using your own video and audio feed. Within Collaborate you can also have dedicated group activities, which means that the instructor can divide the class in smaller groups to assign discussions, much like in an actual classroom.

All live classes are recorded, so students that cannot access the live class on the scheduled date and time can watch it later at their convenience.

Inside Blackboard you will find all the contents of your course. Your class script (a powerpoint used for the live class), your exclusive workbook, exercises, assignments and supporting materials. All of this is organized to expand the learning experience of the live class.

IAFA believes in a practical approach to learning. So your assignments will be practical exercises that will be evaluated by the instructor. You will receive written or video feedback on your work.

The online experience mirrors that of a physical classroom, often expanding it through the use of technology.

Technology requirements

MAC

Computer Operating System: Windows 10

Desktop Browser: Google Chrome (latest update)

Computer Speed and Processor: At least 8GB. (*if you are using a video software such as Adobe Premiere Pro, a dedicated video card may be required depending on your computer configuration.)

Download and Upload Speed: at least 10MB for upload, and at least 5MB for download.

PC

Computer Operating System: Windows 10

Desktop Browser: Google Chrome (latest update)

Computer Speed and Processor: At least 8GB. (*if you are using a video software such as Adobe Premiere Pro, a dedicated video card may be required depending on your computer configuration.)

Download and Upload Speed: at least 10MB for upload, and at least 5MB for download.

This will cover much of the standard household computers, tablets and smartphones.

Additional Information

If you miss the real-time, LIVE class, you can access the recorded version of the class, as well as supporting materials, any time during the course.

Class size limited to 24 students.

Instructor’s location: New York, NY.

Language: English.

Certificate issued by IAFA upon completion of the course.

FAQ