The No B.S. DIY Masterclass to Shoot Short Documentaries Solo with Griffin Hammond

I’ve been a huge fan of Creative Live since day one, but they’ve outdone themselves with this workshop taught by Griffin Hammond on how to shoot short documentaries when you’re a one-(wo)man band.

It’s not the first time I share content targeted toward freelance filmmakers, but it is the first time I come across content that tackles everything at once on a scale of one.

Having Access to a Peer’s Process from A to Z

It often feels that most videos about filmmaking are either focusing on gear or on storytelling, but that they never show how these two topics are interdependent and they impact creating a good story in real life.

Hammond’s class Shooting Documentary Short Films covers both aspects, and also shows how they apply in real life (it’s weird how often this aspect of filmmaking is disregarded in educational content). We actually get to see him shooting a documentary and talking us through the whole process while doing it.

In the 16 videos that composed the masterclass, Hammond goes from how he thinks about stories before going on the field, to the full equipment he caries with him as a one-man band, why he chose this particular equipment, the way he handles framing, questions, b-roll, sound, the post-production phase, and finally, the legal aspects, submitting to festivals and finding work. Yes, all that.

And this is no B.S. Hammond is incredibly transparent and genuine about the whole thing.

The 16 videos also come with pdfs, including the full gear list and -my favorite one- the excel file Hammond created to submit Sriracha, his award-winning documentary, to film festivals.

Another element I really enjoyed with Hammond’s approach is that he is a true advocate of the ‘make it work‘ philosophy. If he can get the same result with a DIY gear, he’ll take that road and will explain to the client why he did so instead of feeling he should have the better mic, the bigger lamp etc.

The workshop is not only a goldmine in practical tips, I also found it empowering as Hammond keeps giving ways to obtain quality results when shooting with your phone or little to no equipments. In other words, this is not a masterclass where you will spend your time feeling like I need more equipment and I need more people with me.

There is nothing worse than feeling that you need more, especially more people. Most of us are working solo, and that’s how Hammond does it too, whether to shoot for high profile media company, to make online tutorials, or to shoot his personal projects. In all genre, Hammond shows it’s possible to create strong work with little, you just need to check certain steps and be clear on your process (which is what he teaches in the videos).

Special Discount for Mentorless Readers 

I discovered the Creative Live class by accident the day it went live, and pretty quickly realized it was one of the most relevant filmmaking class I had seen in a long time. The class is at $59, which I think is a very low price when you think of the amount of knowledge it contains, but since we’re broke indie filmmakers (let’s face it) I contacted the Creative Live team who offered to give a special 30% discount to mentorless readers until July 31st.

So if you want to purchase Shooting Documentary Short Films, which I honestly think you should if you are a freelance filmmaker or contemplating shooting guerrilla style, you might as well do it using this code:


I will update this article with an extract from the class as soon as I get the video file, but in the meantime, you can check the one that is available on the site’s page.