Join the Sony Film-Makers

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Whatever happened to the camcorder? For backyard pranksters with You've Been Framed ambitions, it's been a lucrative eye-witness, while in contemporary art the camcorder has merited its own genre, the video installation. Between Jeremy Beadle and Bill Viola, however, the camcorder seems to have failed in its promise to populate the sitting-rooms of the world with armchair auteurs. Thanks to the Sony Film-Makers' Project, all this is set to change. Over three days, a trio of top directors will teach the production principles behind TV commercials, documentaries and music videos at one of London's best production facilities, the Lux Centre in Hoxton Square.

Despite BBC2's excellent Video Nation, the camcorder has been seen as a niche format, deployed for the grainy realism of its images. But a burgeoning camcorder culture has begun to exploit the affordable technology. pounds 5,000 will get a broadcast-quality digital camcorder and a PC with the software to edit footage, but a second-hand pounds 250 analogue Hi 8 camcorder is all the next Tarantino needs, plus a little help from some top directors.

Cue Jonathan Glazer, Sony workshop tutor and TV commercials director: "A camcorder film-maker doesn't necessarily need the whole circus of the film crew to record ideas." The award-winning director of Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" video and Nike's "Parklife" commercial has faith in the educational virtues of the simple camcorder: "It emphasises that film- making is not about production values - it's about what's in your head and how you can convey that best."

Pedro Romhanyi will take the music video workshop (Pulp, Blur and the Manic Street Preachers are among his clients), Sarah Lewis the documentary workshop, but Jonathan Glazer's plans for his TV commercial workshop give an idea of what students can expect. Glazer will show and discuss some of his work before assigning the class their digital camcorders, a 30- second script, two actors and a few props, along with some sage advice. "They may think, `The way to impress is to set up the biggest shot'. But there's no point in that if it doesn't say anything. I'll be getting people to see different ways to communicate an advertising script." The rushes will be edited there and then and each workshop will close with students showing their films to the tutors.

Glazer adds: "If I said to the Rolling Stones, `I want to shoot a video on a camcorder and these are the reasons', there would be no question they would go for it."

Your chance to join the Independent/Sony Filmmaker's workshop

The workshops are aimed at people with little or no experience in film making. The first three have been confirmed with the following directors:

4 April: Pedro Romhanyi on music videos (apply by 2 March).

18 April: Jonathan Glazer on video commercials (apply by 16 March).

16 May: Sarah Lewis on documentaries (apply by 13 April).

How to enter:

Tell us about your favourite scene from a film or music video - saying why you chose it - in not more than 25 words. Send applications to Sony Filmmakers, 1st Floor, 97-99 Dean St, London W1V 5RA. Places are limited. Students will be asked to pay pounds 40 (waged) and pounds 20 (unwaged) to cover expenses.

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