Writing with The Camera: Unconventional approaches to Essay Filmmaking

The BAFTSS Essay Film SIG and the Derek Jarman Lab


 Writing with The Camera: Unconventional approaches to Essay Filmmaking

 A roundtable discussion and workshop for essay film practitioners and enthusiasts. The gathering aims to promote the exchange of knowledge and ideas about the screenwriting process and screenplay development for the essay-film, as part of the London Essay Film Festival.

Date of the workshop: 24th March 2018 (10 am – 1 pm).

Deadline: 15th March 2018

Location: Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, Birkbeck School of Arts, Birkbeck London WC1H 0PD

During the session, we will introduce approaches to screenwriting outside conventional formats and discuss how the participants’ essay-film projects might draw from the application of similar development techniques. The focus will be on processes of layering, working and re-working material, remaining flexible to facilitate moving backwards and forwards between scripting, editing and devising sound/VO. Filmmakers Romana Turina and Rebecca E. Marshall will look at this process within their completed works and how open systems of development loops can make use of both carefully planned sequences and unexpected moments.

Participants of the workshop will be asked to bring examples of storyboard/script/ notebooks/image collection from their projects. In the second part of the session, we will share and discuss these documents.


Date: 24th March 2018

Time: 10am – 1pm

  • 10 am: welcome, opening presentation and introduction
  • 10:30 am – 12 am: Roundtable Discussion – individuals present their ongoing projects one by one.
  • 12 am – 1 pm: Participant’s Materials displaying on the tables – knowledge exchange and discussion on process.



If you are interested in participating, please send a 150-word description of the project and a 100-word bio to:

rt748@york.ac.uk  or bartek@jarmanlab.org

before 15th March 2018.

Session Ten: Montgomery Clift documentary (work-in-progress session)

In this work-in-progress session, filmmakers Robert A. Clift and Hillary Demmon will present and show extracts from their forthcoming documentary project, which scrutinizes the popular image of Clift’s uncle, classic Hollywood film star Montgomery Clift.

Tuesday 27 March 2018, 13:00

Birkbeck Cinema: FREE event [book here]

The screening will be followed by a conversation between the filmmakers Robert A. Clift, Hillary Demmon and Essay Film Festival director Dr. Michael Temple.

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Session Sixteen: ★/Johann Lurf

A scintillating, brilliantly edited collage of shots of the night sky, lifted from 550 films from the beginning of cinema history right up to the present day.

Thursday 29 March 2018, 20:30 

Cinema One, ICA: [book here]

★, Johann Lurf, Austria, 2017, 4K DCP, 99 minutes – UK premiere.

The screening will be followed by a conversation between filmmaker Johann Lurf and critic and curator Olaf Möller

With support from the Austrian Cultural Forum, London and Open City Docs.

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Session Fifteen: No Intenso Agora/ João Moreira Salles

A personal and historical essay film about the protest movements and quasi-revolutionary events that nearly turned the world upside down in the summer of 1968.

Wednesday 28 March 2018, 20:35 

Cinema One, ICA: [book here]

No intenso agora [In the Intense Now], João Moreira Salles, Brazil, 2017, DCP, 127 minutes, Portuguese, with English subtitles – UK premiere.

Followed by a conversation between the director, João Moreira Salles, and Lucia Nagib, University of Reading

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Session Fourteen: The Sun Island/Thomas Elsaesser

Film theorist and historian Thomas Elsaesser’s debut film is an essayistic portrait of his grandparents, Martin and Liesel Elsaesser, drawing on home movies, personal correspondence, and contemporary interviews.

Wednesday 28 March 2018, 15:00 

Birkbeck Cinema: FREE event [book here]

The Sun Island, Thomas Elsaesser, Germany, 2017, Digital/Blu-Ray, 72 minutes, English and German – UK premiere.

The screening will be followed by a conversation between Thomas Elsaesser and Erica Carter, King’s College London

With the support of the Goethe Institute, London, and the German Screen Studies Network

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