“Both the theoretical and the practical parts of the day wound together really harmoniously — it was during the practical that I felt I really cemented my knowledge. It was very good for a beginner. I found the whole thing very informative and interesting” - Bethan

“It was great to learn so much and excellent to do something different at the weekend” - Cat 

“It was pitched at the right level and the content was excellent. Good value for money.” - Candy 

“This course gives a good and fairly wide range of understanding about filming/video." - Jenovah

“There was a very nice, friendly atmosphere to the session." - Kathryn

“Very engaging and pitched at the right level.” - Friederike

“Very good to learn through practice in a comfortable learning environment, with people who had the same aim of learning. Thank you, it has been a great course!” - Masa

“It is a good basis for beginners and for those that have some knowledge.” - Hayley

“ Clear and thorough, covers a lot of information without feeling rushed.” -  Ella 

“I thought it was a really good course for someone who hasn’t had much experience before.” -  Grace

“Both the theoretical and the practical parts of the day wound together really harmoniously — it was during the practical that I felt I really cemented my knowledge. It was very good for a beginner. I found the whole thing very informative and interesting” -  Bethan 

“ Value for money introductory course useful for complete beginners.” -  Tamsin

“Very practical. Nice small group and individual attention.” -  Katie 

“ Practical, good advice on equipment, fun, entertaining.” - Jason

“Hands on, confidence building, very enjoyable, informative, small group.” - Iain 

“I found it useful because it teaches you lots of main things you have to know.” - Marta

“I found the section on learning the settings very useful, as it has set me up with a basic understanding so I can operate a video camera, which I couldn’t really do in a professional way before the course. I found all my expectations were met. I have learnt a lot and would definitely recommend.” - Zahra 

“An unintimidating, basics (and beyond) training course for those with ideas but lacking technical knowledge. Thank you. I hope to do another course with you. It’s great we can use your cameras. It’s rare to get such an opportunity.” - Sarah 

“Really good tone, pace, informality, focus, responsiveness, intensity. Thanks very much. Great experience. It has given me lot of good ideas.” - Sally

“Covered the essentials of video production with an experienced professional. Certainly interested in taking more courses in the future.” - Graham 

“It provides a lot of information quickly and in an understandable format. More helpful and human than the internet.” - Camilla

"Found it consistently useful — classroom and practicals were both relevant. For my goals, I believe it provided what I needed.” - Duncan 

“Great, hands on, technical course for beginner/ intermediate. Great price, very affordable and learnt everything I wanted.” - Rob

“All very useful information to get started producing video narratives, mostly from a technical aspect. I need to get project specific experience now!” - Matt 

“ Mark is an outstanding tutor and a lovely guy.” - Mark

“ I found every single minute to be extremely useful.” - Carol

“It was good fun and an opportunity to learn in an environment that was with like-minded people.” - Arnie

“I found the entire weekend helpful — my knowledge was almost non-existent, and I found the practical aspects useful.” - Beckie

“This course delivers on what it offers. It covers a lot of ground thoroughly. Thank you for being so patient and prepared to answer all questions.” - Camilla

“Really valuable and enjoyable experience. It was very helpful to have theory followed by practice. Excellent course to get you feeling comfortable with a camera.” - Lara

“ Mark is extremely experienced, versatile and an excellent teacher.” -  D’arcy

Sophie and Oscar attended a Four Day Filmmaking Course at Spectacle in summer 2014. We interviewed them afterwards to find out why they chose to take the course and what they gained from the training.

SOPHIE PARKER

What did you like most about the course?

“I liked that it was slightly longer than the weekend courses so [I] learnt more and got to do a mini project, I liked the size of the group which meant you really felt like you were getting one to one tuition and always had something to do, it also meant the group bonded and really helped each other out...  read Sophie's full interview here

OSCAR WILSON

SPECTACLE: What did you like most about the course?

OSCAR: What I liked most about the course was the indepth nature of it. The fact that I was taught the essentials so if I wanted to go out and film a documentary now I could - not to the standard of a seasoned professional, however I have the tools, I just need the seasoning!...  read Oscar's full interview here

“Any[one] frustrated by the hierarchy of working in TV production will benefit from hands-on practical activities together with detailed advice from a working filmmaker for quickly improving their skills and knowledge. Time constraints mean this level of attention is rare in an ordinary workshop environment.

Structure for editing was extremely useful as this had been a barrier to progressing my own project — I’d only received technical training on the software previously

I would definitely recommend the course. Thank you!" - Jo

I really enjoyed the course — now time to get back and put everything into practice!” - Halina

“I think the course is incredibly good value for money (such good value I think you should seriously consider putting up the price) and a really great introduction to documentary filmmaking. There are at least three people I will try and persuade to take it." - Charlotte

“All of it was useful. Everything was explained and the hands on experience was really useful, letting us try things for ourselves” - Sophie

“It gives a ‘can do sense’: the freedom to take the material and just start doing.” Margreet

“I found the whole thing very useful, it’s hard to choose between the different parts. I NEEDED THEM ALL!!! Great stuff! - editing has always baffled me but it has been thoroughly deconstructed and will no longer. I just don’t want to leave. Maybe you could get a bouncer to throw people (me) out. Can I come back?” - Oscar

“I found the mix of instruction and practical experience very effective. I feel I am leaving with the ability to do things I had no experience with previously. I often come out of training courses with no new practical skills, this was a refreshing change. Wish I could come back tomorrow!” - Mary 

“I found all content relevant, interview techniques, cut away shooting plus editing all really helpful. Thanks so much for a great four days, Ive learnt so much and feel encouraged just to have a go. Though it was for work I have so much more out of it for my personal development. - Nicola

"Great, fun, inspirational and encouraging course. It was so helpful and informative and at a flexible level for different competencies” - Tomas

“great stuff!” “I thought the shooting day was a good and useful experience. I also enjoyed learning about collective ways of editing.” - Larissa

“It was a small group so things were easily explained if not understood, and the direction could be catered towards our needs” - Sarah

“I had no previous knowledge of the software, so I would have been completely scared of trying things on it — the course felt just right to begin this exploration and the information on codec and export was particularly helpful” - Sophia

University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute

“I had the opportunity to play and adapt with the camera and to understand how to use the different setting. [I would recommend the course] to anyone who needs a hands on approach to filmmaking principles." - Romelia Calin

“Concise yet comprehensive, now I feel like creating a worthwhile video from scratch.” - Aiora Zabala

“I found the introduction part was really useful, at the beginning of the day I didn’t know how to switch on the camera and at the end of the day I could take a shot. Mark really knows his subject, and I found the course motivating, practical and enjoyable. I came out with loads of ideas." - Kinne Gueye


Sheffield University

“Real hands-on techniques and tips that I can relate to future projects and research. The facilitators were laid back (in a good way!) and very accommodating of our need to be flexible in organising the event — thanks!” - Adam Park


Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research

“The overall set up of the day was helpful: first, preparations for going outside to shoot and then feeling more comfortable handling the camera for the shoot. It was really helpful to look over recordings afterwards. The practice was very useful. I think a lot of people are looking for and interested in gaining more hands-on, practical experience and this course focuses on exactly that.” - Nas, Amsterdam

“Most useful were the clear theoretical explanations, so I was able to really understand why the F. [aperture] should go up. But without the practical assignments outside it might not have stuck. It enables you to perceive the world as an outsider, like you’re part of the scene. Very mindful experience. Super course, thanks a lot!” - Inge

“In two days you really get a feel for what you can do with a camera, theoretically as well as practically." - Anonymous

The theoretical explanations were really clear, while the practical exercises helped to bring them to life and make them stick. - Anonymous


Contested Cities International Research Institute

" It was really useful to learn how to critically view the material we shot and be able to correct mistakes, understanding what works and why." - Anonymous

“The practical assignments were very useful, as well as watching the footage together afterwards. In two days you really get a feel of what you can do with a camera, theoretically as well as practically. Thanks for your enthusiasm and expertise!” - Lisanne


Lancaster University

“ A must for people wanting to film their science.” - Hugh Tuffen

“I learnt a lot of very useful information and it has inspired me to try and find creative ways to communicate my research.” - Jacqueline Owen


Watford Borough Council

Angela Farrance, senior communications and engagement officer

"We work for a local authority, and want to promote our services, activities and places to visit in the most accessible and fun way, to a wide range of people.

I liked the flexibility that Spectacle offered; the training was completely bespoke and reactive to our needs, but still covered everything we wanted to learn.

The team had varying levels of experience, and all felt it was a really well spent few days. Everyone is very keen to get started!

I would recommend the training, and already have to fellow comms officers in Hertfordshire. Mark made the sessions fun, accessible and everyone is really excited to get filming.

Read the full interview with Angela here

Ella Price

"I was looking for a cost effective course to extend my marketing skills to be able to offer short digital video production for my clients. As a freelancer, a lot of courses I looked at were too long, with content I didn't need, and frankly too costly. Of course, part of me thought the Spectacle course was a suspicious bargain, but testimonials were strong and I liked how 'real world applied' the content looked.

I needn't have worried. Mark has a skill to extract exactly what you need from the course and flex content to suit you. My photography skills were basic at best, and decades old, but very swiftly updated! Hands on use of high quality camcorders straightaway means that you fly out of the blocks on that, and find yourself filming around Clapham getting the feel of things very quickly indeed. By the end of day one we'd interviewed, reviewed framing, focus and exposure issues, and - most eye opening to me - got the hang of how to record broadcast quality audio. Not to give too much away, by the end of day two we were in post production...

For me, the key was Mark's 'mindset' approach. So, of course, my technical skills will need hours of practice over the next few weeks, but unless your training gives you the mindset of a film maker, you might as well work your way through the manufacturer's manual. Mark covers how to keep swapping your hats, from thinking like a sound engineer to how to capture plentiful footage that's filmed in a away that doesn't prompt a performance or reaction, to maintaining the story thread (and safe files) through the edit process.

On editing, I have even less background than photography. But there's hands on time again, and most importantly a really in-depth comparison of software you can use, with differing tools and screen layouts. The same goes for kit options - there's no pressure to buy any one brand or configuration, and Mark discusses what you're likely to need specific to your setting. I have confidence now to choose what will suit me best, and even where to hunt for 2nd hand, which is a quantum leap from where I was.

Would I recommend Spectacle? Only grudgingly - it's my secret support system now, and I'm not sure I want to share... I shall definitely be going back."

Ella offers freelance marketing, profiling and coaching services to corporate organisations and individuals and plans to apply digital video production in all these settings.

“The video production for the web training course was excellent value for money – I had the chance to ask questions specific to my situation and learnt a phenomenal amount. I feel well equipped to start creating videos for use in my office and confident that I could develop these skills without further training” - Gemma

“The mix of practical and theory was excellent and well balanced. It’s a great overview of video production which will give people a solid foundation. - Sophie

“Because it was bespoke one-to-one training it was all very useful. I am pleased to understand the camera so well now and we covered everything I was hoping to. Mark is very thorough and explains everything well. I felt comfortable asking questions and have learned a lot. Thank you!” - Yanxia 

“The practicals were very revealing — the disparity of what I thought I I’d shot to what I actually got! Also the impact of quality audio was mind-blowing. I enjoyed the systematic approach to the theory — without reducing what is an exciting creative process to a ‘checklist’, it is fantastic to have logical principles to follow." - Anonymous

It’s accessible, but not patronising — the level feels varied enough to allow a range of participants skills. And content was shaped and made relevant throughout.

Good thorough overall course on filming for website/ business, in depth explanation of techniques.” - Jennifer

Michaela Benson, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London

SPECTACLE: Why did you choose digital video production skills?

MICHAELA: I do a lot of research in people’s houses looking at their relations with the wider residential environment... video can offer a way of introducing participatory elements into an academic research project, and can capture the visual experience of a research setting. I also think that it introduces a different way of communicating findings to our audiences. I wanted to develop these skills so I could apply them myself and start experimenting.

... I would definitely recommend the course. It broke the process of production into small steps that were easy to remember. Also, having a chance to put these into practice made me realise the benefits of this approach. This is a course that is perfect for anyone who wants to make a start at looking at including video production in their work.

Read Michaela's full interview here

Anne Toomey, PhD candidate, University of Lancaster

"I decided to do the training because I wanted to use film work in my research and I really had no idea about starting to do that - what kind of equipment to buy, things like that. Mark was just great because he really started from the idea that I wouldn't know anything, just moving up from there.

I did a two day course in June, and then based on that I was able to get started in July and August filming in the field and I've already produced two short documentary films and I'm on the third right now. All my training is from Spectacle.

I came back for the Four Day Course in November, that helped with building on just how much I knew already, and gave the basic instructions I needed to be able to do the documentary I'm working on now.

I would definitely recommend it to others. The idea with Mark coming up last year [Anne arranged a bespoke group course at her university] is that it would be annual thing, because a lot of researchers would benefit from the training. So I would definitely recommend it to others, other researchers and other people interested in film."

Anne did a Video Production Weekend Course for Anthropologists and Social Researchers last summer, and then returned to take a Four Day Filmmaking Course in the autumn. She also arranged for Spectacle to deliver a Bespoke Group Course at her University.

“This is the type of course every anthropologist should take” - Mattia Fumanti, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St. Andrews

“Practical, relaxed, hands-on, directed to people’s needs. [It was] really cool seeing the DVDs and hearing about your projects, sounds like really interesting stuff. [I'm] very supportive and impressed by their focus on participatory ethics etc, so very educated by the course and even happier to have done it at such a cool studio” - Rebecca Hudson, Student, UCL

“All parts were useful. The talk introduction was useful. The hands on practical was really good as it gave me confidence I can operate the equipment. Good course” - Zuzana Hrdlickova, Post-doctoral Research Associate, Goldsmiths University

"The practical part is when you really learn!” - Claudine Litvak, PhD candidate, Bristol University

“I was able to ask specific questions. Good intro for fellow anth students” - Jade Jackman, Student, LSE

“It really teaches you all the basics of the camera and how to use it properly in practice. But also indepth tips were given on a more advanced level. Mark was a very good instructor!” - Maartje Roelofsen, PhD candidate,Karl-Franzens-University Graz

“The hands-on experience with peers and in class feedback afterwards was most useful. Making mistakes is a great way to learn. A well considered programme, realistic in its aim. The course tutor delivered in a relaxed and well paced manner.” - Anonymous

“All very good; the practical stuff was good, that made the strongest impression, also the discussion about the footage we shot. This is a great intro to filmmaking, focused but very friendly atmosphere.” - Paul Cooke, Leeds University

“Useful for anthropologists who want to integrate research and visual images. And also to do advocacy - I was wondering how to do participatory filmmaking with a community.” - Diana

“The tutor and assistant were present and attentive the whole time. I could not ask for more in two days.” - Mariana

"The course is never boring and all parts work well together so concepts are clear. There are very few courses for anthropologists interested in documentary making that are practical.” - Anonymous

“The course gave me confidence to re-engage with the practice of filming/shooting images.” - Dimitris

“[The course] was fun, useful and definitely empowering for me to just be able to start filming, instead of stressing over how to begin and feeling incompetent. Mark was an excellent teacher, calm, entertaining and very clear. Had a really enjoyable time and learnt a bunch” - Marine Graham

“It’s a great format with a small group.” - Anna Davidson

“Everybody can learn something new and useful from Mark.” - Anonymous

“Gives concise, well informed background knowledge that allows one to start going out and filming.” - Anonymous

“Really useful and enjoyable course! Thanks Mark!” - Katie Orchel, Exeter University

“It is a good intro to those new to video or those who want to revise their skills. ABC of bringing video production to your project” - Matej Blazek, Loughborough University

“Thanks very much I found the way you work very inspirational.” - Anonymous

“Very accessible, methodical and applied. Gave me confidence to approach any camera and be able to find my way to make use of it.” - Irma Allen

“Mark is a lovely and engaging tutor - made it very easy to ask questions." - Phillida Cheetham

"It was really focused and accessible for someone who had no previous knowledge." - Ainhoa Montoya

“Simple, uncomplicated approach to something people are interested in but perhaps scared of trying out.” - Julie Botticello


"Very ethical and honest approach to documentary research at grassroots level.” - Samantha Lasbury

“Very informative and clear.” - Rachel Cudjie

“Good value, informative and friendly.” - Nick

“de-mystification in general” - Hugo