“It is the most beautiful land that human eyes saw.” Christopher Columbus on seeing Gibara Bay
“Gibara, Cuba’s best kept secret.” The Guardian
Learn documentary filmmaking in one of the world’s true exotic locations. Just a short flight from the US, Cuba is like stepping back in time for the documentarian. Join Tom Donohue, National Geographic/Discovery Channel filmmaker and MMW educator, for an 8-day workshop on documentary story-telling techniques. Explore Cuba’s vibrant culture through an artistic lens. During the workshop, students will work together to research, shoot and edit a short documentary film that will screen in the local cinema to a Cuban audience.
The workshop is based in Gibara, a Caribbean fishing village on Cuba’s northeast coast. Here horse and carriage are still the primary form of public transportation. The town, designated a national monument, is destined to change dramatically once relations with the US are normalized. Ten million tourists are predicted to descend on the island per year. For now, the small town atmosphere is a fascinating, welcoming environment in which to learn and practice new skills. We will be assisted by young residents who are fluent in Spanish and English. They’ll be our “fixers," providing an open door to the community as well as serving as translators. We will also be joined by a local Cuban filmmaker who has focused his career on life in Gibara.
The workshop grew out of Tom's teaching experiences at the Maine Media Workshops over the past thirteen years and was inspired by two recent visits to Cuba for work. Through experiential learning, students improve their skills by creating a short documentary. Morning classes introduce the documentary process from preproduction to shooting and editing. Students spend the afternoons either in the field shooting or editing their material into a finished piece.
Students will use and learn on their own cameras and Mac laptops. HDSLRs, Handycams and professional cameras are all welcome. But even an iPhone 6 plus would be a viable choice as a documentary camera due to its low-profile, low-cost and surprisingly good image quality. Students will learn the basics of editing using Adobe’s Premiere Pro to select shots and assemble a finished documentary. This course will give students experience in numerous aspects of filmmaking and send them home with knowledge of shooting in a foreign culture.
Previous students’ of Tom’s MMW workshop have had their work screened in film festivals and aired on PBS.
At the time of registration, a deposit of $600 will be taken, along with the $55 registration/application fee
Enrollment is limited in our workshops, so once you have been accepted your participation is important to us - we are counting on you to attend. If you must withdraw from a course, we provide the following refund policy:
- Withdraw more than 60 days before the start of class and we will refund all monies paid, less the $55 application fee.
- Withdraw 60 days or less before the start of class and we will refund all monies paid, less the application fee and the deposits.
In addition to the actual instruction, the workshop includes:
- a single room in a Cuban family’s home-stay.
three meals a day.
Cuban Cultural Visa.
Cuban health insurance while in Cuba.
Round trip travel from Holguin International Airport (HOG) to Gibara
Planned events include a boat trip to the beach, an elective visit to a cave, a class in Cuban Salsa, a traditional pig roast and the workshops premiere at the local cinema.
What’s not included
Flights : Airfare is not included. Students will arrange for their own travel between their home port and the international airport in Holguin (HOG). Major US commercial airlines are predicted to start flights to Cuba in the first half of 2016. Until then, charter flights are available. Miami is the main transfer point. But new airports are being serviced monthly. Recently Los Angeles (LAX) and Baltimore/Washington (BWI) added direct flights. An alternative would be flights from Canada and Mexico. These have existed for years and offer very low fares
Equipment: The workshop does not provide any equipment. Students are expected to come fully equipped. With the low price of quality cameras and powerful computers, every filmmaker should have their own camera and editing package. A package should include a microphone, head phones and batteries, an Apple laptop loaded with Adobe Premiere Pro, and a Hard disk. An equipment list can be found on the Cinewright.com web site: http://cinewright.com/equipment.html
Students should bring money for incidental expenses such as tips, alcoholic drinks, a few meals away from the workshop’s restaurant, gifts of Cuban rum and cigars, etc. American debit and credit cards do not work in Cuba. It is necessary to bring dollars and better yet, transfer money into Euros because of a poor exchange rate for the American currency.
Visas and Licenses:
Travel by Americans to Cuba is limited to one of twelve possible licenses. This trip is licensed under article 515.567 which allows for workshops and public performances. No action is necessary on the part of the student.
The student will be issued a tourist visa automatically upon arrival at Cuban customs in the airport. Shooting video in Cuba, however, requires a cultural visa. An application will be submitted prior to the trip and the visa will be issued in Gibara. Students will receive Cuban health insurance for the duration of the workshop. No travel vaccines are necessary and the water in Gibara is safe to drink. It is advised that students purchase travel insurance.
Room and board is part of the package deal of the workshop. Students will stay at a “Casa Particulare," a Cuban home-stay, which benefits the local economy directly. It is also the best way to experience Cuban hospitality by being a part of the community. We will stay with an extended family that has three houses together with a court yard. These are comfortable, single rooms with private bathrooms and air conditioning. Three meals will be offered daily at the home-stay. The home cooking is actually some of the best food in Gibara. Gibara is a fishing community. Meat is in short supply. Instead, shrimp, Caribbean lobster and the catch of the day are all fresh.
One positive aspect of Cuba’s communist government is safety on both a personal and equipment level. Penalties for crime against tourists are reputed to be particularly harsh. Gibara has the added benefit of being a small town with small town kindness. Though one shouldn’t test it, it is possible to leave a camera unattended in a public space and not lose it.
Tom Donohue is an EMMY-nominated filmmaker and educator with more than 20 years of experience creating broadcast documentaries for clients such as National Geographic Television, The Discovery Channel and PBS, as well as for a host of NGOs. His assignments have taken him from the war-torn streets of Afghanistan to Central American rain forests in search of jaguars. Tom’s approach to filmmaking is holistic: He produces, shoots, writes and edits his own films. Not only does this method provide an intimacy with the subject, but each step of the filmmaking process informs and builds upon the others. Tom has taught at Maine Media Workshops since 2002 and this summer he returns to teach The Four-Week Documentary Film School. Tom speaks fluent French and Spanish.
For more information please feel free to contact Tom directly firstname.lastname@example.org
Terms and Conditions for Travel Workshops
1. Reservations & Payments
A deposit as indicated on the registration page is required to confirm your reservation for the workshop. Final payment in full is due 45 days prior to the start date of your workshop unless stated differently in the course description.. Maine Media Workshops + College (“Maine Media”) reserves the right to cancel a reservation if full payment has not been received by the due date.
Please review our cancellation policy at https://www.mainemedia.edu/workshops/about/payment-policies
3. Basis of Rates
All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars; all payments must be made in U.S. dollars.
It is strongly advised that you purchase Trip Cancellation, Baggage, Emergency Medical Evacuation, and/or Accident and Sickness Insurance Protection. Camera equipment, computers, and baggage are carried entirely at the owner’s risk. Maine Media shall have no responsibility for any lost, damaged, or delayed property, or for an individual student’s medical needs, accidents, injuries or illnesses.
5. Itinerary Changes
The itinerary for your workshop is subject to change without prior notification.
6. Passports and Visas
A valid passport is required for all international travel. You are required to notify Maine Media as to the nationality under which your passport is registered. Participants are responsible for obtaining their passports and visas. To participate in the workshop, you must have a passport that is valid until at least six months after the date on which your trip is scheduled to be completed.
7. Medical Issues
All participants must be in good health. You must advise Maine Media of any health condition, physical condition, or emotional or mental condition that may require special attention or that may adversely impact the other participants in your workshop. All students are required to complete a “Waiver of Liability” form and submit it at the time of registration. This document may be found on the course description page.
8. Liability Waiver
Every participant is required to sign Maine Media’s Waiver of Liability before departure for their workshop. Click here to download.
9. Responsibility & Photography
To ensure a safe experience, you are required to obey local customs and be considerate when photographing people or sensitive locations. The faculty member for your workshop has the right to expel any person from the workshop for behavior that is in violation of the law; that is disruptive; or that compromises the group’s safety or enjoyment. No refunds will be made to any person expelled from a workshop. Maine Media shall have no obligation to pay any costs incurred by a person as a result of that person being expelled from a workshop.