Documentary film-making workshop in Ladakh

18th May to 21st June 2020.

To be rescheduled. Applications are open for few new vacancies due to current uncertainties.

At Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh

Course Overview

To practice documentary film making – as a method to observe, assimilate and critically express human actions, emotions and ideals – in context of local culture and environment. To apply the principles of Deep Ecology and thus anchor the film making practice in 3S – Self – Surrounding– Story. To observe the interconnections between Self and the Surroundings; to see how one is born out of the other and influences the other – how to articulate the related stories?

To orient participants with the principles and techniques of storytelling through an accessible audio visual medium. That is, to develop skills of identifying practical narratives, characters, locations etc. to effectively design a production. Further, to shoot, edit, design sound and thus produce films that articulate with integrity deeply personal perspectives on surrounding social realities.

To facilitate cultural exchange between the youth of Ladakh, Auroville and from all over India and abroad. A confluence of youth coming from various cultural backgrounds will enrich the experience and the learnings from the workshop.

Exposure to mountain region with an extremely fragile ecosystem, is also an oblique objective, to open eyes to the immediate evidences of climate change and appeal for conscious living.  Anchored in the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, the first if its kind ‘doer’s university’ will be a special insight.


– 5-10 min documentary films anchored in the local landscape – made in groups.

– Reflective essays, Radio plays, Interviews, Photo-roman and 6-shot exercises – made individually.

– Archive of footage

Who is it for

For youth 18+ interested in Cultural Exchange; Sociology; Visual Anthropology; Ethnography; Photography, Films and Media Studies; Travel and Tourism; Local Ecology; Conservation; Creative Writing; Story Telling, Exploring.

It is a beginner to intermediary level workshop.

6 Seats are reserved for participants from Ladakh. 4 seats are reserved for participants from Auroville and the bioregion. Remaining seats are open for participants from all over India and abroad.

Number of participants is limited to 25.

Course Fee

For Indians and Aurovilians: ₹49900

For Foreign Nationals: $1400

Accommodation and Meals: ₹15000 / $250 – in addition to the course fee.

Accommodation available from 16th May to 23th June – a couple of days extra before and after the course.

Application Process

  1. Submission of online application form with a Statement of Purpose – before 31st March 2020.
  2. Telephonic interviews – from 1st to 5th April 2020.  
  3. Selection of Participants – by 10th April 2020.
  4. Payment of fees – by 15th April 2020.
  5. Confirmation of admission – upon confirmation of payment of fees and food & accommodation charges.

Cancellation and refund of fees is not possible after confirmation of admission.

Due to unforeseen conditions if the course itself is cancelled; full refund will be facilitated.

Workshop Facilitators

Richa Hushing & Rrivu Laha are documentary filmmakers, both alumni of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. Richa specializes in Direction and Editing, while Rrivu’s specialization is Direction and Cinematography.  Their films are often character portraits; and portraits of indigenous cultures in face of conflict and at the threshold of change. Cinema verité style is their strength.

‘Nicobar, a long way…’  a documentary observing Nicobarese identity and resilience in wake of state sponsored relief and rehabilitation post Tsunami – is one of their latest works, winning ‘Special Mention’ award at the Millennium Film Festival, Belgium, 2017. Some of the other festivals where it won accolades was Pêcheurs du monde, Lorient, France, 2018; Film South Asia, Nepal, 2017; Viscult, the festival of Visual Culture, Finland, 2017; World Film Festival, Estonia, 2017; Festival Film Library of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Bristol 2017; Ethnografilm Festival, Paris, 2017; Smaragdni Eco Film Festival, Croatia, 2017; International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, India, 2016. Their prior works too have been recognised internationally.

After a decade long practice based in Mumbai, in 2017 Richa and Rrivu moved to Auroville, an intentional international township dedicated to the ideals of human unity, free progress and transformation of consciousness. In Auroville, they’ve found Auroville Timelines, a media pedagogy and video arts unit, researching and curating recorded memories of Auroville, creating mnemonics of the dream.  

Richa and Rrivu have also co-founded ‘Auroville Film Institute’ dedicated to the ideal of cinema education, integrating world cinema and world citizenship, experimenting with a new pedagogy, encouraging new practices of conscious cinema. Auroville Film Institute has begun to offer short term courses; and is preparing for long term plans, individualised mentorship, student exchange programmes and cinema-centric learning journeys.

Special Lectures

Sonam Wangchuk; Gitanjali JB; Stanzin Dorjai Gya; Jigmet Wangchuk; Teswang Namgail and others.

Course Details

Week 1

3S : Self – Surrounding – Story

2 days of Self Reflection.
Introspecting; Introducing oneself; relating to others in the group; and sharing. Involving in Deep Ecology based exercises.

2 days of Surrounding Exploration.
Understanding Ladakh – through a landscape tour exploring various physical and cultural aspects.

2 days of Introduction to Media Studies– Appraising Media Literacy, getting oriented with local media culture, basics of Mass Communication,  Appreciating Documentary films – History & Highlights. Film Screenings / Actuality Visits / Reflective Essays.

Week 2

2 Days of Detailing ‘Cinema as a Language’ – Engaging in discourses on Cinema Techniques, Cinema Aesthetics, Cinema Politics. Exploring the concept of Fact, Fiction, Documentary –  and everything in between.

2 Days of ‘Ways of seeing’ – Discourses and Practical Exercises – Discussing “Ways of Seeing” – What/ Who are we looking at? From Where? Why? Reading relevant passages and reflecting on the concept of ‘Gaze’. Practicals – Contextualizing – Character-Action-Situation; –Practicals – Interplaying with – Composition-Exposure-Movement-Perspective. Practicing Interview Techniques

2 Days of ‘6-Shot Exercise’– Ideating, scripting, shooting and editing a story that can be conveyed strictly in 6-shots only. Arriving at a narrative structure to convey a simple incident with an emotion. — Film Screenings / Discourses / Practical Exercises

Week 3

2 Days of Sound – Understanding role of sound to enhance narratives; Recording ambient sounds; recording interviews; Production of Radio plays.

4 days Pre-production and Reconnaissance – Forming groups and locking Ideas for documentary films: Researching, drafting scripts, scouting locations, spotting characters, articulating mood and tempo, developing styles of narration.  Pitching Sessions; Planning production.

Parallel Sessions of Camera Operations and Technical orientation.

Film Screenings / Intensive Practicals related to Pre-Production / Parallel Technical training.

Week 4

Production Week– Participants to be divided tentatively in 4 teams. 3 Shooting Days for each team. The teams will shoot on Alternate Days.  Team 1 & 2 on Day 1, 3 and 5, while team 3 & 4 on Day 2, 4 and 6.

On alternate non-shooting days, the teams will organise and review footage on the editing table; get oriented with basics of editing and prepare the paper edit to be executed the following week.

Week 5

Post Production Week– The 4 teams will have to edit their films under mentorship of the faculties. 3 Days of Rough Cut. 2 days of Final Cut and Sound Design. 1 day of touch up and final rendering.

Last Day of the Workshop: Screening of all films in an Auditorium and Sharing Circle.

Valedictory Function and Farewell Dinner.


Certificate of participation will be issued jointly by Auroville Film Institute and Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh. 90% attendance is compulsory to get certificate.

Special Note

The workshop is part of the Auroville-Ladakh bi-annual student exchange programme, facilitating cinema-centric learning journeys that can emerge from and lead to a more comprehensive cultural confluence and knowledge sharing.  The corresponding Auroville Phase of the exchange programme titled “Auroville Praxis – experimental art, imagination and innovation” workshop will be open in November/December 2020 in Auroville.

For further details and queries if any, contact:

Richa Hushing at +91 9969879319 /

Varada Kulkarni at +91 9769285936 /

12 thoughts on “Documentary film-making workshop in Ladakh

    1. Dear Rishikesh, We at Auroville Film Institute completely understand the constraints for students to participate in some of our courses which are indeed expensive. We do give a certain fellowships and waivers but those are limited to in order Students of Auroville, students and volunteers at auroville from bio-region and our past students.
      However our present workshop is on the basis of voluntary donation scheme.
      Do check it out.
      Love and Light


  1. If you guy’s peddle about utopian world and capital free education, then what is this a gateway to make money and enjoy yourself

    Grow up


    1. Dear Prashant,
      Thanks for raising a very pertinent question that all of us here are regularly deliberating upon. For reasons many we are not sterile to the socio-economics of the world around. It is a larger debate. However we wish are constrained to operate in fair gift economy model. Our aspirations are sincere.
      We completely understand the constraints for many to participate in some of our courses which are indeed expensive. We do give a certain fellowships and waivers but those are limited to in order Students of Auroville, students and volunteers at auroville from bio-region and our past students.
      However our present workshop is on the basis of voluntary donation scheme.
      Do check it out.
      Love and Light


  2. Any scope for fee discount. And 30 days seems quite long looking at the schedule.
    Please update if there are some changes?


    1. Dear Dorjey,
      Thank you so much for your interest. Please do fill up the form. I am sure you will find a way to articulate your constrains and I am sure we can find a solution. We would love to talk having received your application form.
      However, I take this opportunity to inform you of a new workshop. This is on a voluntary payment scheme. Do have a look. You are most welcome.
      Love and Light


    1. Hands on Documentary workshop details for year 2022 will be announced in the coming months. Currently please check :
      Analyze SHOT by SHOT John Cassavettes’ film ‘A Woman Under the Influence’ – relate it to R D Laing’s texts – ‘Knots’ and ‘Do you love me?’ Adapt Laing’s incredible, universal dialogue scenarios to your context, in your own language and style… Make your own film – with none other than Kamal Swaroop ! Starting 12th Feb_ONLINE. To know more and register –…/knots-kamalswaroop/
      . Or call +919969879319.


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