The ”DOCNOMADS” Documentary Film Directing ERASMUS MUNDUS MASTERS COURSE is a:
- Two-year, 120 ECTS;
- Documentary film directing;
- Masters course;
- Implemented by three European universities:
- Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias/Lisbon/Portugal,
- Színház- és Filmművészeti Egyetem/University of Theatre and Film Arts/Budapest/Hungary and,
- LUCA, College Sint Lukas Brussels/Belgium.
- With a mandatory mobility scheme from Lisbon to Brussels via Budapest including:
- a first semester at Lusofona,
- a second semester at SZFE,
- a third semester at LUCA College Sint Lukas, and,
- a fourth semester dedicated to the graduation work, for which students will be divided into three groups, one at each University.
- The upcoming students are awarded a multiple degree and a diploma supplement;
- The course is supervised and sponsored with scholarships for students and scholars by The Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the European Committee.
The Opening Speech of the First Edition, 10 September 2012
Welcome from the Academic Board
DOC NOMADS was started, because we felt there was an opportunity to start something completely new. We thought there was a need for an international documentary film Masters.
Filmmaking has become very democratic. Equipment is cheap and easy to get, the same goes for editing software, and we can all put our films on the internet. Some people say “There’s no need for a school anymore.” And if so, it would just amount to learning the profession, storytelling, and technique. But documentary filmmaking is more than a profession.
It’s also an attitude to the world and a vision of it. It’s a profile that will influence your social life. I once made a film about a well-known retina specialist in France. He could restore sight to the blind. But in the end he was disappointed, as the people could see, but they did not use it develop a vision. This specialist now puts his energy in the word, in politics. He believes politics is more eye-opening than his profession as an eye doctor.
Some people consider documentary filmmaking purely a profession with techniques and methods to obtain a quick and efficient result. You can make documentaries by the kilo, on autopilot. But even if it is about reality, I do not consider those films real documentaries. A real Documentary film -- we use the term Author Documentary -- is unique and personal, and therefore the filmmaker should obtain a whole array of social skills. He needs to develop empathy, reflection, responsibility and ethics. Every director should aim at a distinctive style, signature, and vision.
Nowadays very few subjects on television are taboo. The more shocking, the more they love it. And most places and subjects in this world have already been filmed. And they are being shown. And when we hear about a place, we do have an immediate image on our retina. When I say New York, we see and hear the yellow cabs. And when we film there, we want to bring those images back home. To show that we’re real professionals. Our first challenge is not to reproduce those images, to be aware of clichés, and to search for and create a surprising, unusual reality.
But perhaps an even bigger challenge is to develop other ways of storytelling. To stop the inflation of audio-visual language. To make sure your image is not just an illustration. Not to make illustrated radio. We need a cinematographic language. Documentary filmmaking is a form of art. As a teacher in a film school, I’m often surprised about the unconscious use of image and sound. Especially in documentary film. We are not scared to film delicate subjects. But we do it in a conventional way. Our biggest enemy is not official censorship, but censorship in our own heads.
Of course, television culture is not always a very stimulating environment. TV doesn’t like unconventional language as people might zap away before the commercial. TV’s biggest fear, and I’ve practised it several times, is to start a film in the dark, only with sound. They get crazy.
More than in feature film, you should have a basic knowledge of production and legal aspects, such as contracts and author rights. So that you can negotiate with partners and television. So that you can work with television and not for television. Documentary filmmakers can only be independent if they are not dependent on one partner, one TV, or one national film fund. So they have to work on an international level. Feature filmmakers are national heroes; documentary filmmakers are more international, but also more invisible.
WHY in Lisbon, Budapest Brussels? It’s a possibility created by the European Union. They stimulate collaboration between universities of the EU.
Doc Nomads is the first Erasmus Mundus in the Arts. Very often an EM is no more than a slight adaptation or shuffle of existing programs. But from the very start, we insisted on selecting a small group and focusing on practice with personal coaching.
The advantage of our three countries is that they are very complementary. East, West Southern Europe with three totally different cultures and cinematographic backgrounds. Three small countries that are aware of being small. Our students stay six months in each country -- a short time, but long enough to meet people and build up a network.
You’ve probably noticed that Europe is going through a financial, social, and political storm and that the Union is facing a great challenge. It’s dramatic, but at the same time, for you, it’s an interesting moment to operate in this part of the world. The three semesters do have a common and specific angle: during each semester you will meet directors, producers, and visit festivals.
In the last semester, in one of the three countries, you will make your final film and the essay. Doc Nomads works in 3 countries 3 institutions, but there is one staff and one philosophy. If accepted to DocNomads, we ask you not only to focus on the program, but also to make use of the possibilities of the three institutions, their staff, the guest professors, and the cities from day one. The unofficial school Doc Nomads is maybe even more important than the official one. Our students come from different nations with different cultural backgrounds.
What seems good, right and beautiful to one might look terrible to the other. It will take time to get used to each other. We do hope you will create a dynamic in the group. You will help each other in your practical tasks and probably also outside the University. You might even work together after Doc Nomads. And who knows, with us...
Rob Rombout, member of the Academic Board.