Posted on August 30, 2017

As part of the Qatar Germany 2017 Year of Culture, the Doha Film Institute has launched a series of Practical Labs on various aspects of film production led by expert professionals from Germany. The programme, aimed at building the professional skills of young filmmaking talent in Qatar, is supported by Qatar Museums, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and Goethe-Institut Gulf Region in collaboration with Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, one of the leading international film and media schools.

The Practical Labs, held for the first time in Qatar, will commence in September with four dedicated sessions on Lighting, Grip, Cinematography and Editing. Each session will combine theory, demonstrations, and practical exercises to train the participants on the technical aspects of filmmaking.  Open to filmmakers from beginning to intermediate levels, the Practical Labs will build hands-on skills in filmmaking and further strengthen home-grown competencies in film production.

Fatma Al Remaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute, said: “As we mark the Qatar Germany 2017 Year of Culture, it is our honour to host the first Practical Labs sessions led by eminent film professionals of the German Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. The Practical Labs, which draw on the creative traditions of German cinema, reflect our commitment to offer holistic training & development initiatives for our talented film aspirants. They will gain in-depth knowledge of the practical aspects of film production that will inspire them to go beyond conventions and create their own individualistic craft, and contribute to our nation’s evolving film scene.” The Practical Labs on Lighting, Grip and Cinematography will be led by Marcus Zaiser, who has worked on more than 100 productions in various positions. He is an alumnus of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg, and has been working as cinematographer for cinema and television.

German documentary filmmaker Thorsten Schütte, who has worked for more than 20 years as a writer, director and producer, is the Lab Advisor. His thought-provoking and well-reviewed films have been widely shown at international film festivals. Since 2002, Schütte has co-ordinated documentary and fiction studies at the internationally renowned Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. The Practical Lab on Editing will be led by Alex Bushe, a Los Angeles-based editor and assistant editor, who has extensive experience in both documentary and narrative filmmaking. He has worked on over a dozen films, notably on films with director Werner Herzog. Other films he worked on include Nick Broomfield’s Tales of the Grim Sleeper and Lynne Ramsay’s recently completed noir thriller You Were Never Really Here.

The ‘Art of Lighting with Marcus Zaiser’ Practical Lab will be held from September 17 to 20, and will offer participants insights on working with light in a creative way. They will learn about natural and artificial light sources by analysing paintings and still photographs, and create numerous light set-ups on their own, and experiment with light parameters like hard and soft, brightness, shadow and contrast. These exercises teach the art of creating a light dramaturgy for future projects, an essential part of telling a visual story. The last date for applications is September 3.

The ‘World of Grip with Marcus Zaiser’ will be held from September 22 to 25. It will teach participants how to realise complex camera movements with the help of grip tools like dollies, jibs and car mounts, among other utilities. They will learn how to operate the dolly, build dolly tracks in difficult terrain and other essential grip-mounting techniques. The seminar also focuses on safety and the responsibilities of the grip department. The last date for application to the Lab is Sept. 7. 

‘Cinematography with Marcus Zaiser,’ to be held from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, teaches participants the advanced knowledge of cinematography all the way from the preparation and planning of a project through shooting to post-production. Participants learn about visual language and visual storytelling; how to block a scene; how to get from script to film; and how to create a visual concept and cinematic look that corresponds to the story. Sessions also address how to move the camera and how to paint with light. Deadline for applications is Sept. 13.

The final Practical Lab on Editing with Alex Bushe will be held from Oct. 2 to 6. In this five-day course, students learn the skills needed to operate in a professional environment as a film editor. Through a combination of lectures, curated film clips and practical exercises, the participants learn to recognise and evaluate the creative considerations behind the editing of both fiction and non-fiction films. They are also taken through common post-production workflows, from organising raw footage to delivering a finished film. Students are expected to bring a previously edited scene of no longer than 10 minutes, to screen for feedback. The deadline for applications is Sept. 18; applicants should have a basic understanding of Adobe Premiere Pro.

Interested participants must send a brief letter of intent explaining why they are applying to the lab (maximum one page), show-reel, examples of previous work or link to a website if available, CV or short bio and copy of Qatar ID, by email to: All sessions are held from 2:00 PM to 8:30 PM, and will be conducted in English. Each lab can accommodate a maximum of 12 participants. Fee for single lab is QAR 1,000 and package fee for 3 labs (lighting, grip and cinematography) is QAR 2,500.

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