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Register for a one-day documentary
screenwriting workshop with Harold Crooks!

Pitching New Narratives For Exposing Old Myths (Documentary Screenwriting)
Saturday, November 23, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Quebec Writers' Federation Office, 1200 Atwater Avenue, Suite 3
Workshop fee: $80 for QWF members; $85 for non-members
To register, contact:

Harold Crooks screenwriting credits include Sundance-winning The Corporation and Surviving Progress, co-directed with Mathieu Roy and produced by Oscar-winning Cinémaginaire. Surviving Progress screened theatrically in over 30 North American cities, was selected for festivals and telecast world-wide, and appears on lists of best documentaries of 2012. Here are some rave reviews:

Crooks has won a Genie; a Gold Hugo at Chicago International Film Festival, a Leo Award for Best Screenwriter (Documentary) of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation of B.C. and a National Documentary Award (Best Writing Category) at 1996 Hot Docs!

Objective: This hands-on workshop on documentary pitching is an opportunity to gain a critical handle on the approach to film-making of one of today’s greatest film documentarians, Adam Curtis. As someone whom producers and directors turn to for shaping big “ideas” and subjects into documentary pitching, treatment and film form, Crooks is inspired by Curtis. Not only is Curtis an essay film master, but as reality TV cuts its ever-widening swath across the non-fictional landscape and undermines demand for traditional documentaries, his approach warrants serious study because the essay film remains an area of documentary film-making that will defy obsolescence.  

What Curtis teaches is how to reassemble visual fragments of the past to, as renowned art curator, critic and art historian Hans Ulrich Obrist puts it, “try and make sense of the chaotic events of the present.”  Curtis captivates audiences with his gift for myth-busting. Combining journalism with avant-garde filmmaking techniques and sardonic humour, he demonstrates—as Obrist observes—how we must look beyond mere politics if we wish to understand power today. For power now flows through “science, public relations and advertising, psychology, computer networks, and finance and business.”

Pre-Workshop AssignmentWatch online as many of Curtis’ stock-compilation films as necessary to imbibe his unique and mind-opening style, and submit a brief written treatment of your own proposed “essay” film. Best source for watching Adam Curtis’ work is at:

You may choose to put into film form – as Curtis often does – your favorite “big picture” author, as Crooks and Mathieu Roy did in Surviving Progress (based on Ronald Wright’s A Short History of Progress. Your treatment should be a narrative told through a combination of

1) proposed on-camera interview subjects with quotes from their writings or statements

2) suggested archival clips, and

3) unexpected (from shocking to hilarious) stock footage.

As well, your text may—in the style of Curtis—include “voice-over” to push forward the argument from introduction to inclusion. The treatment may question the thesis even as it advocates for its way of seeing the world. 

Deadline: Your treatments should be sent with the subject line “For Harold Crooks” by November 13 as PDFs care of:  

Sessions: The 6-hour workshop will be broken up to allow each participant to pitch his or her proposed film essay and receive critical comments from Harold Crooks and the other participants.  

To learn more about the QWF, visit us online at

1200 Atwater Ave, Westmount, QC, H3Z 1X4
Telephone: 514-933-0878

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Quebec Writers' Federation · 1200 Atwater Ave. · Room 3 · Westmount, Qc H3Z 1X4 · Canada
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