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Documentary Lab

Start date:
Sep 04, 2015
4 Weeks
Ability Level:
Beginner to intermediate. Open to residents of Qatar only.


4 September – 8 October afternoons and evenings.

Please note that you may be asked to make time during the day during the filming week.

Submission deadline : 21 August, 2015

This intensive lab is designed to sharpen skills in documentary filming technique and theory in a realistic, high-pressure environment that takes participants from project development through filming to final edit. Experienced international documentary filmmakers provide guidance in accessing the director’s internal voice and concentrating on creative documentaries with personal reflection.

Participants are encouraged to develop their skills in a supportive environment that inspires creativity and builds confidence. Approaches to accessing and exploring inner themes are applied to personal stories that come from the heart and reflect contemporary life in the Gulf region.

Mentors analyse documentary films during the lab and work with participants to develop their ideas. Participants also learn techniques in documentary cinematography, sound and editing before filming. Up to four of the participants’ projects will be selected for. All participants are expected to take on roles as part of the filming teams.

Applicants must apply with a treatment for a short documentary (one page maximum) involving subject matter that can be filmed in Doha over a two-day period during the dates of the lab. Preliminary script development with the Doha Film Institute’s Learning Initiatives team takes place in advance of acceptance into the lab, when applicants will be assessed on their ability to develop and expand their ideas into a coherent treatment.

Submission Process

Applicants should submit a documentary treatment, no longer than 1 page, for a short documentary (10 minute maximum). Applicants must be sure that the subject matter can be filmed in Doha over a two- to three-day period during the third week of the lab.

We are interested in subject matter that has personal resonance for the applicant. During the selection process applicants will be asked to justify their choice of subject matter and talk about why they would like to document it.

The workshop is designed to develop ideas into short documentary films. We are not looking for projects that are already developed or that have already been filmed or partly filmed.

Submission Process

Please send the following in Word or PDF format to

1. Documentary treatment (one page maximum)
2. Previous work (if applicable)
3. Artistic portfolio (photography, drawing, films etc…)
4. CV or short biography
5. Copy of Qatari passport or Qatar Residence Permit

Candidate Selection

Candidates whose work shows promise will be shortlisted.
Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview process where the workshop unit will work with them to develop their idea/treatment/script through written and verbal notes on their work. They will also have a short interview with the workshop mentor.
Candidates will be assessed on their ability to expand and develop their ideas into a coherent documentary proposition with subject matter that can be filmed in Doha over a two-day period during the lab dates.


Documentary Lab mentor leader – Peter Chappell
Documentary Lab sound mentor
Documentary Lab editing mentor


Peter Chappell – Lead mentor
Peter Chappell is a director, producer, and cinematographer of both documentary and narrative films with extensive experience in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. He directed a film adaptation of the short story “Oral History” by Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer, and his documentaries include films on the World Bank in Uganda; “Our Friends at the Bank”, and “The Origins of Aids”. Chappell’s films have won numerous international awards, including the Canadian Film and Television Academy’s award for best scientific documentary, and the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe’s Prix Europa for “The Origins of Aids”, and the FIPA Silver Awards for “Our Friends at the Bank”, which also received an award for outstanding journalism at the Ökomedia Festival in Germany.
Peter Chappell has also worked as a media advisor to the Tanzanian Government Ministry of Education, and DANIDA in Denmark. Moreover, he served as an advisor to Gaza-based Palestinian news agency Ramattan. He is a mentor at the National Film School in the UK, and a member of the advisory board of Maisha Film Lab in East Africa.

Special thanks to