Master Classes with Oscar Documentarians 2017

Creating high quality non-fictional films with accessible technology, the initiative brings three award winning filmmakers in different technical fields to give a series of workshops this summer: cinematography with Oscar-nominated director James Longley, sound mixing and design with Dan Olmsted, and colour correction with Gary Coates.

These workshops are co-organised by the Hong Kong Documentary Initiative of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of The University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

23-25 Jun (Fri to Sun)

Fri & Sat: 9am to 5pm, Sun: 9am to 1pm

Cinematography with James Longley
Two-time Oscar nominee for Sari’s Mother (2006) and Iraq in Fragments (2006), recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Grant. Longley is known for his work in Gaza, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

James Longley is a filmmaker whose intimate portraits of people in politically volatile countries in the Middle East are deepening our understanding of the historical and cultural dimensions of the region’s conflicts.

For his low-budget, self-financed films, Longley lives among ordinary families, gaining access to people in places rarely chronicled on film by Westerners. He captures his subjects in very personal settings and situations, revealing both the inhumanity of everyday life under conditions of war, political chaos, and economic devastation and the parallel universe of courage, resilience, and resistance.

While describing a place, a people, and a circumstance, Longley’s early film in Gaza and his later films in Iraq offer unflinching portrayals of the costs and casualties of civil and international conflicts. (From MacArthur Foundation)

More about the Oscar® documentarian at

Details: James often works alone shooting and creates high quality cinematography under difficult circumstances. Filmmakers can learn technical skills and shooting style through live discussion with James on his work-in-progress and demonstration.

Location: Digital Media Lab, Eliot Hall, The University of Hong Kong
Class size: 20

06-09 July (Thur to Sun)

Thu-Sat: 9am to 5pm, Sun: 9am to 1pm

Sound Mixing and Design with Dan Olmsted
Worked on over 200 short and feature films including Academy Award winning pictures Amadeus (1984) and The English Patient (1996). Worked with acclaimed filmmakers such as John Waters, Joan Chen, David Weisman and Ruby Yang.

Dan Olmsted studied film production at San Francisco State University, and went on to join the staff of the Saul Zaentz Company in Berkeley where he spent 15 years serving as a recordist, sound mixer and sound designer.  He worked on many well-known feature films including Boogie Nights, Twin Peaks, Autumn in New York, and The English Patient.

Currently part of a team at the studio Berkeley Sound Artists, his sound mixing credits also include many documentary films by filmmakers such as Ruby Yang, Steven Okazaki, Gail Dolgin, Jeff Feurzig, Peter Nicks and Lynn Hershman.

Along with his sound-mixing and sound-design work, Dan also teaches filmmaking and film-sound classes at several Bay Area colleges and universities.  He works as sound mixer for the Documentary Film program at Stanford University.  He plays guitar in several local bands.

For a more comprehensive list of Dan Olmsted’s sound credits, please visit IMDB at:

Details: Doc makers often take on the role of sound designer in earlier stages while crafting the look and feel. They can learn location-sound recording skills as well as the ‘do it all’ method of editing and finishing their own films from Dan. The workshop is aimed at ProTools for sound design and editing.

Location: Bethanie Campus, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
Class size: 15

21-23 July (Fri to Sun)

Fri-Sun: 9am to 5pm

Colour correction with Gary Coates
With over 40 years of industry experience. His recent works include Academy Award for Best Short Documentary Smile Pinki (2008), nominated documentaries The Barber of Birmingham (2011), The Warriors of Qiugang (2010), The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009); and PIXAR’s Toy Story 3 and Inside Out. 

Gary Coates studied at San Francisco State University’s cinema department. He started as a timer at W.A. Palmer Films, San Francisco’s premier film laboratory, in 1975. As colour grading advanced into the electronic era with the development of telecines and computerized color correction, he jumped into the telecine trade in 1984, first at Diner+Allied and then over to Western Images in 1991 where he worked on television commercials, Lucasfilm’s ABC television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and other broadcast long-form titles. He has worked as a freelance telecine colorist since 2001 at San Francisco telecine houses including Varitel Modern VideoFilm, American Zoetrope, Retina, and Spy Post.

In 2004, he participated on PIXAR’s digital intermediate color grading team on Brad Bird’s The Incredibles using the discreet lustre station. That year, he also worked on the restoration via HD Digital intermediate of the 1974 film The Grateful Dead in collaboration with David O.Weissman of Video Arts. In 2005, I helped Monaco Digital Film Laboratories inaugurate their digital intermediate department using Assimilate’s SCRATCH station to color grade Finn Taylor’s feature film The Darwin Awards.

For his recent work and clients from the third act of his career: The Digital Camera, visit:

Details: Gary will cover techniques of all levels in three days

Day one – simple techniques to prepare a film for release, including mouse and keyboard shortcuts for those who do not have the DaVinci Resolve console

Day two – advanced techniques of a working colorist within the role of editor

Day three – special look development, special effects treatments, and training on how to use the console

Location: The Studio, Eliot Hall, The University of Hong Kong
Class size: 20

Translation service from English to Cantonese or vice versa will be given during the workshops to facilitate idea exchanges.

This series of workshops is ideal for:

  • Experienced filmmakers or professionals with a particular interest in documentary
  • Film students and recent film school graduates who want to supplement their education with hands-on expert advice
  • Doc makers of all types looking to sharpen their technical skills in making high quality non-fictional films

We highly recommend all participants to take the full series of three workshops to acquire all rounded technical skills to work on their own documentary film.

Admission Fees: HK$1,500 per workshop. HK$4,000 for 3 workshops of this series.

Financial assistance will be offered to full-time students or participants with a monthly salary lower than HK$15,000. Once admitted, they will have to deposit HK$800 before the workshops. The deposit will be refunded after attending the workshops.

Application method

Fill in the online application form
Access Here

Video links*

*Provide video links of not more than three best examples of your work in the online application

For each workshop, we will also offer a limited number of auditing seats for technical professionals in cinematography, sound mixing and design, or colour correction. Please write to to request for our consideration.

Deadline: Sunday, 5 June 2017

Please contact us at for further enquiries.