About the Programme

What is the Masterschool?

The Documentary Campus Masterschool is composed of the Documentary Campus Masterschool Workshops and the Documentary Campus Industry Sessions.

The Masterschool is an intensive ten-month training program. It offers media professionals across Europe an excellent opportunity to access the international documentary market and to develop new business strategies. Over the course of four workshops, 15 carefully selected European producer/director teams are assisted in developing, financing and marketing their factual based format for public release; being it the traditional TV market or new digital platforms. Throughout the whole course, each team is backed by two experts from the media industry who are matched to their needs. At the Leipzig Networking Days the teams then present their fully developed projects to leading commissioning editors, buyers, foundations and distributors from all over the world.

Since the programme began back in 2001, it has generated a whole host of great films – including 2016’s festival hit “Notes on Blindness” and its corresponding VR experience “Into Darkness”; Slovenia’s official Oscar entry: “Houston, we have a Problem” and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Hanna Polaks “Something Better to Come”.

For the Masterschool 2019, we put special emphasis on:

• Storytelling for all formats
• Animated documentary/ animation
• VR and digital technologies
• Creative Business Strategies
• Innovative Financial Models
• Impact and Outreach
• New Platforms and Multiple Screens

Here is what Masterschool alumnus Michael Grotenhoff had to say about the programme:
"With the 2012 developed cross-media project „netwars“, I went unconventional ways in which the Masterschool enabled me to develop not only the project, but also an alternative business model for financing multiplatform projects. This was an enormous help for the whole company, to become sustainable in the radical shift of digital media. The company has reinvented itself as a production partner for high-quality documentaries that stand for innovative storytelling – be it dramatically or technically."

This is a sum-up from our alumnus Peter Middleton and his team partner James Spinney:
"Documentary Campus 2013 was a formative experience for us both, helping us navigate the complexities of developing our first long-form documentary - "Notes on Blindness". The structure of the workshops gave us the time and resources to interrogate the project (including planting the seed for our accompanying virtual reality experience "Into Darkness"), as well as providing an invaluable opportunity to connect us to industry contacts from across the European documentary community."

How the Masterschool 2019 works:

• January 2019
Fifteen of the submitted projects are selected for the Masterschool;

• February 2019
The producer/director teams are interviewed via Skype before the first workshop;

• February - March 2019
The producer/director teams receive intense mentoring to prepare for the first workshop;

• March/June/August/October 2019
The teams are invited to four intensive 5-day workshops and trained to pitch their film ideas;

• October 2019
At the Leipzig Networking Days, the teams present their fully developed projects to leading commissioning editors from around the world;

• November 2019
In the Follow-Up Session after having pitched their project, the teams are debriefed about the Leipzig pitch results and assisted in designing their finance and outreach strategies.

Each workshop takes place in a different European city and addresses a different aspect of international production. Click here for a breakdown of what each workshop covers and please refer to the FAQ Section for further queries.

Workshop Breakdown 2019:

Workshop 1: Storytelling | Copenhagen, Denmark

• Storytelling, Script and Treatment-Writing
• Narrative Strategies
• Traditional, Online and Virtual Reality
• Networking
• Audiences

The Masterschool participants come together for the first workshop in Copenhagen in March on the occasion of CPH:DOX and in cooperation with Anidox. Sessions will focus on different techniques aspects of storytelling as well as treatment preparation: such as animated documentary, virtual reality, cross-media working, titles and taglines, archive and clearance. Participants will focus on their projects in group work guided and instructed by industry experts.

Workshop 2: Funding and Producing | Sheffield, United Kingdom

• Storytelling
• Trailer Training and Editing
• Budgeting & Fundraising
• Multiplatform Strategy

The second workshop will take place in Sheffield on the occasion of the Sheffield Doc/Fest. In this workshop, dedicated experts will help the Participants fine-tune the elements of the projects they have been working on since Workshop 1. It will focus on funding and producing strategies. Participants will be introduced to production requirements of broadcasters and their professional expectations; work and criteria of distributors working on an international level; meeting with industry experts on a one-to-one basis and learn about possibilities getting funded by organizations, platforms and foundations. Different techniques and use of production tools will be presented and discussed. Materials covered are the treatment, trailer/sizzle, budget and finance plan. By the end of the workshop, they will be well along the way to being ready to launch their ideas on the international market.

Workshop 3: Impact, Distribution and Business Models

• Financing & Funding Strategy
• Impact Producing
• Legal Aspects of International Co-Productions
• Festival and International Distribution Strategy
• Online Marketing

In the third workshop the Participants will have the opportunity to learn about new business models, impact producing, digital marketing, online revenues and also legal aspects of production and coproductions. Special attention will be given to audiences and users and their expectations and habits. A combination of masterclasses and one-to-one meetings ensures that the participants are ready to go out with the best possible support in getting their films produced.

Workshop 4: Pitching | Leipzig, Germany

• Pitching Training and Technical Preparation
• Finance Consultations after the Pitching Session

The fourth workshop focuses on pitching and selling the project. Participants will be introduced to tips, tricks and techniques presenting and talking in public, Some of the projects will be made public ahead on online platforms and social media inviting communities to respond, comment and ask questions which will be dealt with in the upcoming Leipzig Networking Days. The pitches will be trained and performed in groups and supervised by experienced professionals with international background. The final pitching event, the Leipzig Networking Days, is attended by some of the world's leading commissioning editors and the Participants' opportunity to showcase the culmination of all their work. The Masterschool will continue to provide support after the pitch, and show how the Participants can build long-lasting relationships with industry stakeholders, including commissioners.


November 2019
Having completed the treatment, the budget, the trailer, the pitch and having established the first contact to the international market of commissioners, distributors, platforms and foundations the final step has to be taken: get the project financed and produced. This online session will help to make the next steps towards that end.

Dates and locations are subject to change!

Head of Studies from 2018 onwards

Throughout her career as Head of Program Culture & Science at MDR – public broadcast channel ARD - Dr. Claudia Schreiner has been a strong and constant supporter of Documentary Campus. Since 2018 she has continued to shape the Masterschool as Head of Studies.


Each team will have a specially-chosen Mentor assigned, coming with extensive knowledge in storytelling. They will act as the team's trusted guide, advising on the best way to develop the idea to appeal to global audiences.


Each project will also have a Tutor, an industry commissioner or executive producer working for a broadcaster. Their role is to bring the market intelligence to the project to ensure its relevance to and success in the international market. The Tutors are also there to help with networking opportunities.

Who is it for?

Our main target group for the Masterschool includes European media professionals (authors, directors, producers)

• experienced in their domestic markets
• recommended by a broadcaster or funding body
• striving to work on an international level
• looking out for new business strategies
• with strong and advanced documentary projects for an international audience (including long- and short-form series, cross-platform projects, formats and one-offs)
• open to learn and to adapt their projects to the needs of their targeted market (TV and multiple screens)
• with sufficient English language skills

Find further information on specific countries in our FAQ Section for further queries.

We are looking for…

• All types of factual based content, television series, creative docs, multiplatform, web, VR, short, animation
• All genres, such as history, science, arts, wildlife, natural history, environment or human interest, animated docs etc.
• Great documentary story ideas, suitable for multiplatform exploitation, striving to make an impact
• Stories and characters that can reach global audiences
• Projects experimenting with new formats, which need more shape and new expertise
• Projects searching for a European co-production partner that need to devise a concrete finance strategy
• Experiments on alternative methods of exploitation and financing (e.g. online-only projects, crowdfunding, VR etc.)

NOTE: Projects that have already been pitched at an international pitch event are ineligible. The pitch at the Leipzig Networking Days must be a PREMIERE.