Hands On – Documentary Filmmaking Workshop in Ladakh

New Dates: 21st August to 30th September 2021

@ Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Phyang, Leh-Ladakh.


This documentary filmmaking workshop is anchored in the principles of deep ecology, an environmental philosophy that understands self as deeply connected with and as part of nature, not disassociated with it. Deep ecology critiques anthropocentrism and posits a biocentric worldview, whereby human entity is not above or below any other natural entity, it is inherently equal to every other entity. 

This perspective is interesting for documentary filmmaking particularly of ethnographic nature as it concurs with the worldview of most aboriginal cultures and close-knit indigenous communities – like in case of Phyang, Leh-Ladakh – the field area of our workshop. 

Drawing inspiration from a biocentric worldview, the workshop is designed in the exploration of 3S : Self -Surrounding-Story, wherein we begin with introspection; and we look around in response to inner curiosities and concerns. We are looking forward to building up narratives that spring from an authentic interaction of the self with the  surrounding. The emerging stories we hope will have personal touch and social value. 

We will put on the table challenging questions like the purpose of filmmaking or the position of the filmmaker, for instance, being an insider or an outsider. The perks of the position, the point of entry or the line of enquiry, the field of access, the sensitivity or the dynamism while approaching the subject. The workshop will take a philosophical approach, while working out and demonstrating practical processes of filmmaking.

Cinematographically, the light and the landscape of Ladakh will be explored. The landscape itself is extraordinary, and it transforms with the light. Moonlight will be explored in Lamayuru mountains, nicknamed the ‘moonland’. 

In terms of sound, there is great scope of recording ambience in villages / roads / marketplaces / monasteries etc. Additionally recording of folktales and folk songs will be encouraged for those who are interested in sound specifically. 

An intensive or a specialised editing or sound mixing input may be difficult in the given framework, however basic orientation and mentorship enough for the team to be able to finalize their films’ edit will be given. 

Basically, workshop participants will be divided in groups, and the groups will be mentored to make their own films – through a guided plan – starting from self awareness, interaction, exploration of the land and observation of daily life patterns of the local people – to arrive at ideas for films. The groups will have to pitch their proposal through pitching sessions. Production plans for all films will be drawn with the supervisors. Participants will then have to shoot and edit their own films. 

This is a production oriented workshop and the films produced as a part of the workshop will have public screening at the end of the workshop followed by Q&A with the filmmakers. 

The 40 day workshop will be conducted broadly in 7 sections:

1 . 6 days – Introduction – Introspection and Exploration.

2. 3 days – Academic conference – understanding Ladakh.

3. 5 days – Basic film orientation and character study.

4. 6 days – Basic orientation of the landscape (landscape tour).

5. 5 days – Pre-production and Pitching Sessions

6. 5 days – Production 

7. 10 days – Post-Production 

Plus, 1 day of public screening of all films and other media objects produced during the workshop, sharing circle & closing ceremony. 

Accommodation will be made available 3 days before the workshop starts so as to allow room for settling in and acclimatizing to the high altitude weather; also upto 2 days after the workshop finishes as a buffer to cover up any pending exercises or workshop deliverable.

Thus in total the workshop promises 45 days of experiential learning programme – with films as the main tangible deliverable, along with other media objects and an archive of footage. 

A detailed curriculum and day-wise schedule of the workshop can be provided upon request.


For aspiring, early career or mid career filmmakers, film technicians, artists, social scientists, anthropologists, ethnographers, journalists, media professionals, photographers, travel and tourism professionals, architects, ecologists, conservationists interested in the medium of film, creative writers, storytellers and explorers of all kinds. 

It is an intermediate level workshop – open for participants from all over India and abroad.

Number of participants: Upto 20.

3 Seats are reserved for participants from HIAL and 3 seats are reserved for participants from Auroville and the bioregion. Preference will be given to Aurovilian youth on the strength of application / statement of purpose.


For Indians: 49900 

For Foreigners: $1500 

*Fee includes on-campus accommodation and meals (for 41 days of workshop + 2 days before + 2 days after = total 45 days) 



Please fill the application form and write the statement of purpose thoughtfully. Selection will be on strength of application i.e on the basis of merit and motivation to join the workshop. We shall contact you after we receive your application.


We believe the equipment you have is the best equipment to make your film with. As you are familiar with your own equipment and you can learn to utilize it better for your own film. However, it is not mandatory to have your own equipment to participate in this workshop. 

In case you do have any piece, like a camera or a tripod or any grips or an editing laptop or any recorders, we encourage you to bring it along. Participants will be making films in groups, so your equipment will be utilized for your own group.  We hope the groups to be self-sufficient in terms of basic equipment like a camera, a tripod and a recorder.

From our side we will try to provide for what is missing in each group.


Richa Hushing & Rrivu Laha are documentary filmmakers, both alumni of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. Richa specialized in TV Direction (2005) while Rrivu’s specialization was Cinematography (2007).  

Their films are often character portraits; and portraits of indigenous communities in liminal states. 

‘Nicobar, a long way…’  a documentary observing Nicobarese identity and resilience in wake of Tsunami – is one of their latest works, winning Special Mention at the Millennium Film Festival, Belgium in 2017, among other laurels in anthropological, environmental and human rights’ film festivals such as – Pêcheurs du monde, Lorient, France, 2018; Film South Asia, Kathmandu, Nepal, 2017; Viscult – The festival of Visual Culture, Joensuu, Finland, 2017; World Film Festival, Tartu, Estonia, 2017; Royal Anthropological Film Festival, Bristol, 2017; Ethnografilm Festival, Paris, 2017; Smaragdni Eco Film Festival, Hrvatska Kostajnica, Croatia, 2017 and International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, India, 2016.

Their previous works have also won international accolades like – Rrivu’s debut film ‘Amchi Kasauti (2005) won the best documentary at Jeevika film festival of livelihoods; best documentary at IBDA Dubai; selected in Mumbai International film festival; Tehran International Film Festival. His film Vasudev -the singing minstrels of Maharashtra won special jury mention at Youth New Wave Film Festival, Sri Lanka, 2008. Richa’s debut film, ‘Love Song…’ (2008) was selected at the International documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, Bangalore Queer Film Festival; Her 2013 film ‘Devrai’ on the sacred groves of Maharashtra won the best documentary award at the Maharastra State Film Awards. Rrivu’s short documentary ‘Dhananjay Kulkarni ‘Chandragupt’ (2009) and Richa’s ‘Director Painter Shri Baburao Laad’ both were selected to be a part of  Retrospective of Indian Documentaries at Iran International Film Festival in 2013, among other selections.  

After a decade-long practice based in Mumbai, in 2017 Richa and Rrivu moved to Auroville, an universal township dedicated to the ideals of human unity, free progress and transformation of consciousness. In Auroville, they began with the Auroville Timelines, a media pedagogy and video arts unit, curating recorded memories of Auroville. This work has evolved into an Auroville Archives’ project of developing a participatory community archive. 

In 2019, Richa and Rrivu co-founded the ‘Auroville Film Institute’ dedicated to the ideal of cinema education, integrating world cinema and world citizenship, experimenting with a new pedagogy. Richa and Rrivu work as co-directors and curriculum designers – offering short term filmmaking courses and production oriented Masterclasses. Since lockdown in March 2020, they began with their online filmmaking workshops, mentoring over 400 participants online, many of them debut filmmakers. 4 films produced through their filmmaking workshops were selected in a film festival in Switzerland affiliated with the University of Lausanne in November 2020. 

Richa and Rrivu have been course directors at Film and Television Institute of India’s online basic film orientation and documentary filmmaking courses. 

Currently, they are preparing to extend institutional collaborations, develop student exchange programmes and long-term cinema-centric learning journeys. They continue to work independently as filmmakers and producers of educational media.    


  1. Gitanjali J B, Social Entrepreneur & Educationist; Dean, HIAL;
  2. Sonam Wangchuk, Engineer, Innovator and Education Reformist;
  3. Mipham Otsal, Theatre Activist and Performance Artist;
  4. Morup Namgyal, Folk Musician;
  5. Stanzin Dorjai, Filmmaker;
  6. Chewang Norphel, Ice Stupa Pioneer
  7. Disket, Environmental Activist and Advocate and others.


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


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 January 2022 in Auroville. 


For further details and queries if any, contact:

Richa Hushing @ +91 9969879319 / filminstitute@auroville.org.in

Varada Kulkarni @ +91 9769285936 / varadaa.kulkarni@hial.edu.in


*Please note that fees once paid will not be refunded – unless the workshop itself has to be cancelled due to COVID related emergencies and lockdown. In case the workshop is cancelled, a refund will be organized. 

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