Horizontal, episode-spanning storytelling in non-fiction

During the fourth and final workshop of the Documentary Campus Materschool 2015, we will be hosting a networking event for documentary directors and producers in Cologne. The event will include presentations from leading experts in the documentary industry with a focus on horizontal, episode-spanning storytelling in non-fiction. It is organised in collaboration with:

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Within the last few years, horizontal, episode-spanning storytelling has revolutionized television and has led to the rise of streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. In the non-fiction field, series and formats are a dominating narrative form, but with an emphasis on episodic-closed narration.

During the two-hour panel we will discuss with Jordan McGarry from VIMEO, Finnish transmedia producer Simon Staffans and Jan Peter, writer & director of the ground-breaking TV-series 14 – Diaries of the Great War, to what extent approaches to horizontal narration can be transferred into the non-fiction field. Besides dramaturgical questions and the presentation of best-practice-examples, we will focus on the challenges of financing and production. This perspective will be supplemented by a transmedial view of serial narration.

The event will be moderated by Georg Tschurtschenthaler from gebrueder beetz filmproduction.


Download the Programme Flyer

Welcome & Introduction
Donata von Perfall, Documentary Campus e.V.
Sven Ilgner, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW
Heike Meyer-Döring, Creative Europe Desk NRW

Opening Keynote
by Georg Tschurtschenthaler, gebrueder beetz

Jan Peter, Writer & director, Berlin / Germany
Jan Peter will give insight into the creative processes, writing, and production of the acclaimed 8x52 min series '14 - Diaries of the Great War'. What are the differences to other historical series from a creative point of view? What can non-fiction directors and producers learn from the world of fiction? And what are the key ideas we learn from the project, and the dos and don’ts?

The €8m production '14 - Diaries of the Great war' was produced by Gunnar Dedio of Looks Film and Serge Lalou of Le Films d'Ici, and aired by ARD, BBC, ARTE, and more than 20 other international broadcasters.

Jordan McGarry, Vimeo, London / UK
Jordan McGarry will give an insight into VIMEO and VIMEO on Demand with a special focus on non-fiction content. She will also talk about what VIMEO does differently in comparison to its main competitor. Furthermore, Jordan will shed light on the actual relevance of serial content on VIMEO and give us a glimpse into the future as to what content works for which audience.

Simon Staffans, Finland
How do we engage an audience and how do we create the best audience experience through transmedia storytelling? In his presentation, Simon Staffans will not talk so much about the WHAT of transmedia as about the WHY. Showcasing some inspiring examples, he will look in-depth at a couple of his own projects; firstly, the multiplatform-geared transmedia music experience The Mill Sessions – an experiment into creating a community from scratch and exploring new financing models for content – and secondly a newly created, live-stream point-of-view experience for broadcasters, brands and storytellers.



Jan Peter, acting both as author and director, has realized hundreds of minutes of film for television and cinema as well as documentaries. For twenty years he has been cooperating with Dresden writer and author Yury Winterberg and together they have successfully completed numerous film projects. Jan Peter’s works are particularly rooted in the field of historical documentaries and fictionalizations. For ZDF/ARD and various international partners he filmed more than ten large documentary dramas in the environment of the Vatican, having exclusive access to contemporary witnesses and archives. He filmed documentaries in over sixty countries, ranging from a night time shoot at the Mayan pyramids in Cancun to film scenes in the Renaissance palace of Caprarola, near Rome, to a documentary in the Chinese countryside. In addition to his expertise in history, Jan Peter is also in demand to inspire and develop new ideas, amongst others for the ZDF series "Soko Leipzig" and "Macht der Wunder". Today, Peter works together with international partners on co-productions and in developing a number of projects. His work as showrunner and director for the 8-part documentary drama series „14 Diaries of the Great War“ was broadcastet in 30 countries around the world. In spring 2015 he co-founded the Leipzig based development company FORTIS IMAGINATIO.

Jordan McGarry is Vimeo’s Director of Curation, heading the team that programs the site’s illustrious Staff Picks channel, the Vimeo On Demand homepage and its new Curated Categories, ensuring that the site’s 170million monthly visitors can always find something to entertain their eyeballs. Before Vimeo she worked as Executive Producer at Partizan London for five years, working on everything from branded content to installations and interactive music videos; and before that worked as a journalist at titles including shots, Res, Media Guardian and Screen International. She has commissioned films for Dazed & Confused and Nowness, and curated programs and chaired panels for the British Film Institute, the British Council, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, onedotzero and ResFest.

Simon Staffans is an award-winning format and content developer working in Finland. Over a distinguished career he has created everything from TV shows to social media strategies and corporate story-telling campaigns. His knowledge of multi-platform story-telling and transmedia development has taken him around the world for speaking engagements, workshop facilitation and international consultancy. His insightful articles have been published in numerous journals and academic papers and he is an avid blogger on his website Developing Media. Currently, Simon is the CEO ReThink Formats, a format and distribution company, and works for MediaCity Finland as a media strategist, content developer and producer. Additionally, he has his own company Storista through which he channels innovative projects in the multi-platform arena. Despite a busy schedule Simon is always open to interesting collaborations and development and production work, media strategy consultation, speaker engagements, workshop facilitation and writing assignments.


Attendance is free, but numbers are limited so please register by sending an email to info@ced-nrw.eu by Friday 13th November with your name, company and email address. If you register, please do come!


Talks will be held in English and seats are limited. At the get together following the presentations you will have the opportunity to meet international documentary experts as well as the participants from this year’s Masterschool programme.

Nov 19, 2015
DC Initiative
Masterschool 2015
Registration Deadline
Nov 13, 2015
Startplatz, Im Mediapark 5, Cologne, Germany