The DocHouse vaults. A treasure trove of fascinating masterclasses, thoughtful advice and inspiring ideas.

In 2012, long before the Bertha DocHouse screen itself existed, we invited a group of working practioners to give a series of ‘Craft of Documentary’ masterclasses. Three cinematographers, three editors and three sound experts each gave a masterclass on their careers and experience.

Honest, detailed and practical, we think these nine masterclasses are still a fascinating insight and useful tool for anyone making, or thinking about making documentaries, whatever their discipline. And pretty informative for the doc-loving layman too.

This week we’re focussing on the three ‘Sound’ masterclasses, but look out for upcoming blog posts on the rest of the series.

Larry Sider

Larry kicked off our series of Sound Masterclasses, and in this short exerpt he talks about the power of sound and the different effects it can have on a scene. He reveals his tips on how to approach the big task of sound in documentary.

As Director of the School of Sound, first established in 1998, Larry Sider is credited with elevating the profile of sound across screen production.

He is a film editor and sound designer who has worked for thirty years across documentary, animation and fiction. His documentary work includes Not Waving but Drowning (2009), Robinson in Space (1997) and London (1994).

Larry was previously Head of Editing, Sound and Music at NFTS and has taught at numerous schools including the Royal College of Art, International Film School (Köln), European Film College (Ebeltoft), California Institute of the Arts and the Maurits Binger Institute. He is currently the Head of the MA Sound Recording, Post-Production and Design at Goldsmiths (University of London).

Watch Larry’s full Sound Masterclass here.

Mary Milton

Sound recordist Mary Milton discusses the “dark art of radio mic placement”, offering her top tips on how to record the best quality sound for your shoot, using boom recorders and radio microphones.

One of the UK’s most experienced sound recordists for observational documentaries, Mary Milton is renowned for working on productions with challenging content. She has worked all over the world including Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Canada and Japan; and across a wide range of genres.

Mary recorded sound on many of Kim Longinotto’s documentaries, including Rough Aunties (2008), Hold me Tight, Let Me Go (2007), Sisters in Law (2005), The Day I Will Never Forget (2002), Runaway (2001) and Gaea Girls (2000).

Watch Mary’s full Masterclass here.

Peter Albrechtsen

Here, Peter discusses his sound design for the Sundance winning film Putin’s Kiss. Noting that “you have to think abstractly about sound”, Peter talks about the emotional experience behind soundscapes, highlighting the importance of sound design to evoke an emotional response from the audience.

Danish sound designer Peter Albrechtsen has become a leading name internationally for documentary films, with an astonishing list of credits over the last twenty years including Into Eternity (2010), Putin’s Kiss (2011), The Queen of Versailles (2012) and Generation Wealth (2018).

His credits in 2019 included Hunting for Hedonia, On the Inside of a Military Dictatorship, The Kingmaker and The Cave, all of which screened at Bertha DocHouse at some point in the last year.

Watch Peter’s full Sound Masterclass here.