Workshop Descriptions

Use Setting as Character to Write Better Fiction
Kate Brandes

Learn how to enliven your story by instilling the soul of place into the hearts of your characters. Participants in this workshop will use word prompts and select from a collection of photographs to develop a short scene that uses setting to deepen characterization and heighten drama.

Sustainability and Autobiography: Telling Stories about Food, Work, and Place
Benjamin Cohen

This is a workshop about producing environmentally focused personal narratives. Here is the background: It may be that developing a sense of place is the basis from which we can imagine sustainable environmental futures. One way to develop that sense of place is temporal, in that we see ourselves as part of patterns of change and the cycles of nature. Doing so means we can consider the future by looking backward through autobiography, memoir, and self-reflection to see ourselves as part of longer historical trajectories. Another way to develop a sense of place is spatial—we see connections to nature in our everyday lives, as with food, energy, or the ways our working lives build those spatial connections. This workshop will bring the two together to consider ways of drawing from personal experience—biographically, through our upbringings, in our working lives, with our families—to fashion environmental autobiographies.

Sustaining Ourselves
Julia Kasdorf

This workshop starts by wondering how our work as writers of poetry can expand and sustain our sense of self. What comes of paying attention and struggling to articulate what you see and know? How can an occasional or everyday writing practice extend what we see and what we care about, and—even in spite of all we find to be pressing and true—lead us not to a state of despair, depletion or exhaustion, but voice and joy? Participants can expect to encounter new resources and ideas for sustaining their own writing practices and to draft and share new poems on the spot.

Capturing Truth through Documentary Filmmaking
Avi Setton

Whether you’re a fly on the wall, a detective uncovering a dark mystery, or the person with the phone out ready to capture the next viral video, documentary filmmaking has never been more accessible and versatile than it is today. As Hollywood continues to recycle unrealistic plotlines, the counterculture of innovation and truth continues to grow, especially during a time when we all have high-quality video cameras on our cell phones.

In this workshop, you will learn a diverse array of documentary filmmaking techniques that have been used throughout the history of film, spanning from the very first documentary filmmakers to the adventurous pioneers who aimed to create cinéma vérité (or truthful cinema), from those who masterfully distorted reality to create their ideal propaganda to the visual poets who simply wanted to capture beauty and share information.

Through exercises, you will question the distinctions between documentary films and narrative/fiction films, and walk away with a fresh perspective on “reality” and “truth,” as well as the difficulties (and perhaps impossibility) in depicting them. Furthermore, you will start to predict future trends in documentary filmmaking and come to understand the sheer power you possess as a documentary filmmaker with a video camera in your pocket.