TWN has trained thousands of film and video artists since the 1970s through its annual Production Workshop; the TWN Evening Seminars; and its Senior, Youth and Community Media workshops. The organization regularly collaborates on workshops, conferences, seminars and special projects such as the Unending Korean War Conference, the Organizing/Filmmaking/Archiving Symposium and more. Third World Newsreel works with New York City based media centers, universities and community groups to host production workshops, seminars and events, and gratefully acknowledges the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the governor and the State legislature, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the City Council, the Peace Development Fund and individual donors.
The Third World Newsreel Production Workshop is a unique “hands-on” media production training program providing practical skills and resources for emerging filmmakers. This intensive six-month program, now in its 44th year, is aimed primarily at members of historically marginalized communities, with limited economic resources and access to mainstream educational institutions or traditional training programs. Offering tools to create fiction or documentary projects, the Media Production Workshop carries on TWN's mission of promoting independent cinema by and about communities of color and other underserved groups and their progressive allies.
The Production Workshop curriculum integrates elements of new digital technologies and transmedia in its training, but its focus is the development of the pre-production, production and post-production skills necessary to take a short 5 minute video project from conception to completion. Working in small groups, workshop members conceive and produce their films with the help of instructors and guest lecturers, professionals working in the field of film/video and transmedia. Students are expected to complete one individual short video project during the program.
The Production Workshop meets one evening a week in the offices of TWN
with additional 6-8 Saturdays for labs. The time commitment needed to participate in the program is high
and selected fellows must be able to attend regular class meetings as well as meet the out-of-class demands
of preproduction, production and post-production.
During the pandemic, the workshop will meet virtually Wednesday nights from 6-8 PM, with Saturday labs also online. As soon as health conditions permit, the course will switch over to in-person meetings at the TWN office. Prior film, video or related experience is helpful but not required; self-initiative, openness to feedback, a progressive and collaborative spirit are, along with a commitment to meeting class production deadlines and completing one’s film project. The Production Workshop is limited to 9 participants. A written application is required and selected applicants are chosen for interviews. The cost of the workshop is typically $750.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a changeover to virtual training, but the 2020 cohort of students were still able to produce their films. Due to the impact of the economic crisis from the pandemic on emerging student filmmakers' circumstances, the 2020 tuitions were reduced. The 2021 tuition is also being reduced for these reasons to $400.
The TWN Production Workshop is led by Chrystian Rodriguez and Daniel Kim and is dedicated to the memory of Herman Lew, longtime Workshop Director, filmmaker and cinematographer. Past Workshop grads include award-winning filmmakers Daresha Kyi, Yance Ford, Byron Hurt, Paula Heredia, Renee Tajima-Peña, Jamal Joseph, and Randy Redroad and many others.
Besides its intensive Production Workshop, TWN also sponsors a walk-in series of workshops on various production topics each spring and fall. The seminars are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted, and are presented at various New York City locations. Past workshop speakers have included: Byron Hurt, Laurens Grant, Larry Banks, Jason DaSilva, Cliff Charles, Shawn Batey, Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez, Mike Chin, Deann Borshay Liem, Stanley Nelson, One9, Eric Parker, Sam Pollard, Bobby Shepard, Grace Lee, Arthur Jafa and many more! For more information, see our Evening Seminars calendar listing and visit our Facebook Events page.
Periodically, TWN offers Senior, Youth and Community Media Workshops in collaboration with institutions and organizations based in New York City. Senior, Youth and Community Media Workshops are free. Past workshops have included the SU-CASA Senior Media Workshop in Flushing, the NYWIFT Immigrant/First Generation Women Production Workshop and the Asian Girls Empowerment Through Media Workshop (AGEM). Watch their work on YouTube and Vimeo.
Funding for the TWN Media Production Training Program are provided in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Peace Development Fund, and individual donors.
What types of videos can be made in the workshop?
Dramatic, documentary, experimental and various cross genres. Regardless of the formal structure, projects must be kept short, simple and manageable to keep production time and expenses down.
What other costs are associated with the Production Workshop?
The workshop provides basic production equipment. Other production costs such as media cards, external drives, transportation, food, props, etc. are at the participants' expense.
When are applications available and when will I be notified of acceptance/rejection?
Applications are up on our website in December and the deadline for this year's completed applications was the end of January. Second round interviews are conducted soon after and people will be notified immediately about their acceptance or rejection.
How competitive is the application process?
We want as many people as possible to have access to the application process. However, only about half of the applicants are contacted for a second round of personal interviews for the available slots. If necessary, interviews can be conducted over the phone for out of city/state applicants.
Are there other training programs that TWN offers?
The TWN Media Production Workshop is project driven and the only production training program that the organization offers. It is conducted once a year and starts in early spring. However, every fall and spring TWN offers a series of Evening Seminars on various production topics, plus film screenings and director talks. The seminars cover topics ranging from proposal writing to HD media workflow to master classes with editors and directors. All seminars are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. For more information on these seminars,
What kind of time commitment is necessary for the Production Workshop?
If your time is limited or you have other commitments, it will be very difficult to fully benefit from the Production Workshop. In addition to the regular evening meetings, participants are also expected to attend the Evening Seminar Series, and there is a tremendous amount of work in pre-production and post-production that each participant must accomplish outside of the regularly attended sessions. In addition, because people often work during the weekday, most productions are shot on the weekends or in the evenings so you must be available and flexible with your time. Workshop participants are required to help on each other's projects and participate in a Community Service Project where members provide some kind of service, i.e. shoot an event, screen films or videos, conduct a media workshop, etc. for a grassroots community organization. It must be emphasized that the Production Workshop is not a "school" situation where one meets for class once a week, takes notes and then comes back again the following week. It is a project driven and production orientated program where one must be committed to learning basic production skills while making progressive media projects.
What have past participants done after the TWN Media Production Workshop?
Past participants have produced, written and directed feature films, documentaries and experimental works. They have worked as cinematographers, editors and other technical positions on fictional films, documentaries, commercials, music videos, etc. They have been Academy Award nominees. They have been accepted to graduate film programs at NYU, UCLA, CCNY and Columbia University and have attended AFI, IFP and the Sundance Directors and Writing labs. They have started their own production companies and film collectives. They have produced community based video & film projects and training programs... the list goes on. Workshop graduates include: Yance Ford (Strong Island), Daresha Kyi (Chavela), Loira Limbal (Estilo Hip Hop), Byron Hurt (Beyond Beats and Rhymes) Grace Lee (The Grace Lee Project and American Revolutionary), Ada Gay Griffin (A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde), Randy Redroad (Doe Boy), Renata Gangemi (Professor, Ramapo College), Alice Wu (Saving Face), Jamal Josephs (30 Days, Professor, Columbia University), Cara Mertes (JustFilms) and Renee Tajima-Peña (No Más Bebés, Calavera Highway, Who Killed Vincent Chin?, Professor, UC Santa Cruz).
Our long time Workshop Director, Herman Lew, passed away September 20th, 2014. He was our best friend and colleague, a great DP and the best teacher ever. We miss him terribly. Herman Lew was the Director of the Third World Newsreel Production Workshop for over two decades (since 1989). Also a professor and director of the B.F.A. Film Video Program at the City College of New York, Herman received his BA from the State University of Los Angeles and his MFA from New York University (NYU). Herman had been a director of photography for over 65 films, documentaries and commercials, as well as dance, experimental projects and museum installations. He was the recipient of a New York Foundation For The Arts Fellowship and had received grants from the New York State Council On The Arts for his own film and video projects. Among his last productions were Hans Richter: Everything Turns, Everything Revolves (2013), What Happened to Danny, and Something to Say, a documentary on Asian American performer activists.