Workshop: Development of subject-oriented documentary projects

9. Februar 2023
um 10:00
Something or someone draws our interest, provokes a spark of cinematographic imagination and gives us a first glimpse of the “subject matter” of a documentary film project. An encounter with a specific place or topography, with a person, an event, or their historical traces in the form of archival material may become the backbone around which a film is being developed. Pleasant and less pleasant phases of work follow: Research needs to be done. First to test our interest and imagination against what is actually there. Then to flesh out the film idea. Both the subject and the idea of the film-to-be need to be described in writing, for oneself and for others, collaborators, financers, future audiences.
Representing the film before it is made comes with the difficulty of potentially subordinating the subject to the idea, of thinking, writing and eventually making a film about rather than in engagement with a subject that has a life and agency outside of the structures of filmmaking. How, then, do we develop films whose formal traits make this engagement discernible and which remain obliged to what or who they grapple with? And at what point does development need to stop in order for the film to come into being?
In this workshop, participants will discuss their own current experiences of developing a documentary project and the questions that may arise from them in conjunction with the development routes taken by filmmaker Philip Widmann in the making of two of his own films. Conceived as a space for the exchange of different experiences and approaches, the workshop offers an opportunity to learn from each other rather than a set of instructions for writing, pitching or financing a project.

Philip Widmann is a filmmaker and curator. His films have been shown in film festivals and art spaces, among them the Berlinale, IFF Rotterdam, Views from the Avantgarde / NYFF, Yamagata, FID Marseille, CPH:DOX, Visions du Réel, Wexner Center for the Arts, Dawawine Beirut, and have received numerous awards. Philip is co-programming the European Media Art Festival in Osnabrück and has curated film programmes for Arkipel Jakarta, Image Forum Tokyo, Kassel Dokfest, various symposia and exhibitions.


  • fluency in English, basic knowledge of German
  • own documentary project (short or feature length) in stage of development, from a first concrete idea formulated in an exposé to a developed treatment or scenario
  • readiness to briefly present own project, identify and discuss challenges of development process
  • willingness to watch two films in preparation for the workshop

If you would like to participate, please send an email with your filmography and a description of your documentary project including information on the project stage (max. 250 words in English or German) to until January 26th.

The workshop is open only to Filmnetzwerk members and will take place in English. The number of particpants is limited.