Documentary Filmmaker

Documentary Filmmaker

Documentary Filmmaker 150 150 wycisk.julia
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Gropper Film

Call for applications: PAID SUMMERSCHOOL


NOMIS Distinguished Scientists Awards 2024 Documentary Film Project

Each year, the Swiss NOMIS Foundation awards two or three top international scientists with a considerable grant to conduct foundational research. And each year, they ask four students and starting documentary film makers to create short film portraits of these fascinating personalities, which will be premiered at NOMIS’s annual Award Ceremony, in Zürich in October.

We are looking for ambitious young visual storytellers, who want to join a small team in making intimate film portraits of some of the world’s leading scientists.

The four participants will travel with two seasoned coaches to visit the scientists, meet their co-workers and see some of the most advanced labs at renowned scientific hotspots like Caltech, UCLA, Princeton University, the Max Planck Institute and other top scientific sites in the US, UK and EU.

The NOMIS Award Film Project gives its participants great freedom to experiment and find new visual languages for scientific research while at the same time working on a serious applied commission. By now, 27 curious young creatives have made 18 exciting film portraits of great scientists, one of whom has meanwhile received a Nobel Prize.

Since the start, editor Max Bruinsma and documentary film maker Christian Gropper have coached students and alumni of visual narrative courses in making these short films. For this project, we are specifically inviting creative talents who dare to experiment, to invest time and effort in finding new visual languages for the often abstract themes of foundational scientific research, and who are passionate team players. Of course, we also expect basic camera and editing skills, a keen interest in science and science communication, and preferably some experience in documentary film making.

What we offer is a unique and intensive experience, in which the participants will encounter all aspects of documentary film making, from research and preparing interviews, camera handling, filming, sound recording, directing, to reviewing and editing the material into six-minute documentary gems.

All costs during travels for filming the scientists on location, and travel and lodging during post-production will be covered by the project. In addition, each participant will receive a stipend of € 2.000,-. Participants will be credited in the films and online at NOMIS’s Vimeo page, on which the films are collected.

Some key features of the project:

With the experienced guidance of two seasoned experts, editor Max Bruinsma and documentary film maker Christian Gropper, participants will work together in researching the scientists and their fields; they will prepare and conduct two in-depth interviews with each; they will direct, film and edit the interviews; shoot additional B-roll and associative imagery; and edit the portraits, collaborating with sound designers, illustrators and animators.

The project consists of three phases:

1. Preparation: Researching each scientist, reading (scientific) articles, collecting visual materials (previous interviews, presentations, etc.) and other information to become acquainted with their protagonist, not just as a scientist, but as a personality. During this preparation phase, a short kick-off workshop will be planned around

the end of March in Darmstadt, Germany. In four days, the team members will get to know each other, receive instructions and guidance in the technical and editorial basics of the project, and collectively shoot and edit a short film portrait. With the exception of the kick-off workshop, most of this phase can be done online.

2. Filming: The team will travel to the scientists’ work places at research institutes or universities in Europe or the USA. We will check out locations for the interviews (at the lab or institute) and at the scientists’ homes, prepare and conduct the interviews, and travel around for additional shooting – and some sight seeing. This phase is an intensive and immersive professional experience, in which the team travels together, works, cooks and eats together, usually in well-equipped Airbnb houses near the scientists’ locations. Depending on the amount of awards (two or three) and the locations, these travels take about two to three weeks in July. Each team member will be responsible for preparing and directing one interview and shoot, and for doing camera, sound and assistance during the other shoots. All expenses for this phase will be covered by the project.

3. Post-production: After a short break, the team reconvenes in August in the project’s studio in Darmstadt, Germany, for a month of post-production. In the first week, an audio timeline will be established with the (roughly) edited interview. This timeline of approximately 5 minutes will be detailed with B-roll and associative footage, short animations and sound design in the following two weeks. The last week is for color grading, sound mixing, subtitling and corrections. Travels to the post-production location and lodging will be covered by the project.

The preliminary time schedule for the project:
December 2023 / January 2024: Participants selection

15.01.2024: Confirmation of participants

End of January: First online meeting of all team members and NOMIS
End of March: 4 day kick-off workshop, Gropperfilm studio, Darmstadt
April / May: Announcement of the 2024 Award winners by NOMIS. Research, preparing meetings and travels

Beginning of June: Research workshop (online) and travel arrangements
July: Film shootings on location
August: Post production, presentations and finalizing
04.09.2024: Delivery to NOMIS

Application guidelines:
Applicants need to provide the following documentation:

1. A motivation letter detailing why they are keen to join the project, their interest in science communication, and a summary of their experience with film making and editing.

2. A CV with name, date of birth, nationality, current address, education and current school and or occupation. Please also list skills and level of experience with equipment and software.

3. A portfolio providing an overview of earlier work, with a focus on media productions (video, photography, interactive media). Please provide links to online sources (video and web) and add illustrations of other work.
All documentation needs to be sent as PDF to: and

Large files can be sent via Wetransfer to the same address.

Question: please contact

Looking forward 🙂

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