Intensive immersion in applying the craft of storytelling specifically to your film.

After a documentary reaches Rough Cut, the fun is just beginning.  The Fine Cut phase is more than just “polishing.”  It’s a satisfying time to take a fresh look at the film and work it to a whole other level of storytelling. 

In Fine Cut Fresh Look, students will learn how to take that fresh look, and then identify opportunities to deepen character arcs, sharpen the narrative and thematic throughlines, find the clearest and most resonant voice / sensibility for the film, and refine and hone narration (if narration exists).  Sometimes structural adjustments are made in service of the above.  This all leads to evaluating every select and every edit to make the film as tight and impactful as it can be.

Other topics include becoming a student of pacing (within scenes, acts, the overall film), making stylistic choices that are organic to the story (including music), conducting a time-aware review of visual and aural material so that the absolute best material for a given moment takes the place of functional material, and learning how to revisit scenes that haunt you – scenes that have felt all along like they should be in the film, but didn’t seem to fit the story structure.  Do they have to be let go or do they have a role to play? 

Each student will receive a day worth of focus on their film, and will also learn from the use of storytelling tools on the films of their peers throughout the week.  


Dana Rae Warren

Dana Rae Warren is a filmmaker, teacher, and consultant with 25 years in the national television documentary and independent film worlds. She enjoys and has developed particular expertise shaping stories in the edit room. Her work includes: Producer Writer on the Peabody Award-winning and twice Emmy-nominated Turner Broadcasting series Moon Shot; Producer Writer Director on multiple episodes for the PBS NOVA Science Now series, including profiles on MacArthur Awardee Edith Widder and National Medal of Science Awardee Lonnie Thompson, as well as on animal intelligence and on the link between exploring space and the deep sea; ongoing award-winning public service such as the tobacco-free campaign, Quit For Your Kids; and Great Expectations, an education series, which aired on The Sundance Channel, won an Emmy and was invited to present at Austin’s SXSW Education Conference.

Dana Rae also works as a Series Supervising Producer for television and Story Consultant, Script Consultant, and Consulting Producer for television and independent feature projects.  Examples include the internationally shot weekly History Channel series Deep Sea Detectives (Series Supervising Producer); History’s 13-part series Tougher in Alaska (Series Consulting Producer and Episode Writer); NOVA’s Hubble’s Amazing Rescue (Script Consultant); and independent films such as Oliver Wilkins Rabbit Hole, premiering at the Camden International Film Festival, the Qatari film Once Upon a Time I Was, and the Egyptian film Words of Witness (Consulting Producer), which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival

For her independent films, Dana Rae often chronicles stories that unfold over long periods, including Lou of Betty & Lou (ten years in the life of a 93-year-old), Global Citizen, a small town Maine girl grows into international humanitarian worker (starting in Russia at age 14 and continuing through Afghanistan and Kosovo in the 1990s, and now the Middle East at age 39); Prisoner of the Past, about a Lewiston area Jewish-American WWII POW returning to the site of his capture; Her Game, a year in the life a college women's basketball team (selected for IFP's Independent Feature Film Market); and Alleluia Junction: A Community Choir Journeys from Maine to Russia. 

Teaching, collaborating, and consulting, with both professionals and laypeople, is one of Dana Rae’s greatest pleasures. She has worked with both adults and children of all ages for schools and organizations such as The Sundance Institute's program at the International Film & Television School in Cuba, multiple K-12 schools, the international school Maine Media Workshops, University of Southern Maine, University of Rhode Island, and Bates College, as well as corporate & federal entities.

She was previously a Governor’s Appointee to the Maine Film Commission under two governors, and served on the Board of the Camden International Film Festival. Dana Rae graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University and, before filmmaking, worked in the social service field, including group homes for kids, and a hotline for women facing violence.


Course Dates

Oct 22 to Oct 28



Class Size