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Sustainability Film Festival Master Class with Scott Hamilton Kennedy: From Initial Idea to Oscar Nomination

November 9, 2013 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

| $50
  • Garden-dvdFree to students and SNC staff and faculty; $50.00 for community
  • To reserve a space, contact Betts Markle at 775.881.7511 or library@sierranevada.edu


Class Overview

This master class, taught by Academy Award nominated and internationally acclaimed filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy, will cover the process of independent documentary production from start to finish. The class will touch upon the must-have qualities for a successful documentary, including conflict, character, and controlling idea. Mr. Kennedy will discuss in detail the steps involved—including treatment, funding, pitching ideas, shooting/collecting elements, post-production, and distribution. This course is a unique opportunity for students to understand each part of the process and gain the personal insights of Mr. Kennedy’s years of experience.


Class Structure

The three-hour class covers pre-production, production, post, and distribution. It is typically a one-day class; if joined with a screening of one of Scott’s films, it can be a one or two-day event. Scott shows clips of his films through out the class and shares valuable resources that he has used for all his films. The class emphasizes audience participation through out, and integrates it into the lecture so each participant walks away having answered their most critical questions, no matter what stage they are in on their projects.


Brief Class Outline

1. Defining the Documentary

2. Essential Questions to Test the Story: do you have a movie in it?

3. Finding Money vs. Starting Your Project Pre-production Research, Treatment & Budgeting

4. Shooting and Collecting Elements Post-production: from structure to knowing when you are finished Finding your Audience and Distribution

5. Key Resources


Audience Level

Appropriate for anyone from film student to amateur filmmaker to retired film aficionado.


Scott Hamilton Kennedy

Writer, director, producer Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s documentary The Garden, tells the story of the nation’s largest community garden, and its complicated struggle for survival. It was nominated for an Academy Award, and won awards and garnered rave reviews around the world. His previous documentary OT: our town, about the first play in 25 years at Dominguez High in Compton, was short listed for an Oscar and received equal critical acclaim. Scott is currently developing several narrative projects, and his latest documentary, Fame High, premiered at the Tribeca International Film Festival, and will begin its theatrical and digital distribution (through Warner Digital in May 2013, before going on to Showtime and Netflix in the fall.


Global Reach

From universities in his hometown (UCLA, USC, and Occidental College) to film houses, like DocHouse and The Loft, and to universities in Ireland, Indonesia, and Ecuador, Scott has spoken around the world about the subject of documentary filmmaking.


Master Class Testimonials


“…I want to tell you how much I enjoyed Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s Master Class on documentary film-making! I had seen his film, The Garden, and loved it, but other than that, I didn’t have a clue what to expect. Well!!! As you know, Scott has everything it takes to be an outstanding teacher . . . he’s organized, focused, smart, humorous, informative and credible.”

- Michael David Fels
Sebastopol Center for the Arts – Master Class Attendee


“Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s master class on documentary filmmaking was exactly what our students have been clamoring for. His three-hour presentation was thoroughly engaging and highly interactive, offering students a fascinating glimpse into the world of documentary filmmaking. While our students came to the class with a wide range of experience in film production and screenwriting (some with little or no experience), Scott provided practical guidelines and real-world insights for everyone. We knew we were welcoming a brilliant award winning filmmaker to campus, but we soon learned that he was also a gifted teacher who cares deeply about mentoring students.”

- Jackie Levering Sullivan, Director, Pitzer College Writing Center


“I decided to take Scott’s class as a way to learn more about the art of storytelling through documentary film. He did a fantastic job of teaching us about the process of making a documentary and breaking down the steps into bite size, realistic pieces so we would understand the who, what, when, where and whys of storytelling. Scott also gave

us some wonderful resources so we could continue on our own to learn and move forward. He was able as a teacher to connect with the students and weave their interests into the teaching so it was applicable. Scott is very personable and has a wealth of information and experience. He is very generous in sharing that information by sharing

what he knows with his students. That, to me, is the mark of a great teacher. I hope I have the opportunity to work with him or take another class from him in the future.”

- Katsey Long, Jackson, WY Attendee 



November 9, 2013
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Event Categories:
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Betts Markle


TCES 139/141
999 Tahoe Blvd, Incline Village, 89451 United States
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