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Desktop Docs - more resources

Tuesday 19 January, 2021

Interested in making a Desktop Documentary? You probably have all the tools you need right in front of you, but if you're looking for tips to get started and a little inspiration, here are some resources to help you on your way. 


Let's start with a Desktop Doc tracing the history of Desktop Docs, made by VoltySquirrel.

The first name most people mention is Kevin B. Lee, leading pioneer of the form, and director of the award-winning Transformers: The Premake (see below).

Here, from 2014, Chris Houkal writes for Facets about Kevin and his seminal film, discussing Desktop Documentaries as 'a new aesthetic'.

Lee, who is Professor of Crossmedia Publishing at Merz Akademie, Stuttgart, as well as a film critic, media artist and video essayist, has a wealth of information and resources at He has compiled an informative blog about what Desktop Films are, which you can find here.

Then, if you haven't already, make sure you catch up on his online DocHouse tutorial. He gives 5 steps to get started, that take you through the technical, the personal and the philosophical considerations of your Desktop Doc. 


Lee's first point is to get yourself aquainted with great examples of Desktop Documentaries. So...


On his website, Lee has compiled the Screen Stories Library, a great list of works 'derived from networked and digital screen environments" and including some of his own video introductions.

Conor Bateman has compiled a list of Desktop Cinema here.

And here's a selection to watch, appreciate and take inspiration from.

Transformers: The Premake / Kevin B. Lee / 2014 / 25 mins

Named one of the Best Films of 2014 by Sight & Sound magazine, Transformers: the Premake turns 355 YouTube videos into a critical investigation of the global big budget film industry, amateur video making, and the political economy of images. 


INTERNET STORY / Adam Butcher / 2010 / 9 mins

Told through fragments of internet videos, animations, blogs and news articles – a series of shocking events unfolds when a young man creates a public treasure hunt and a vlogger pursues the riddles across country. 


Watching the Pain of Others Chloé Galibert-Laîné / 2018 / 31 mins

In what David Schwartz, Chief Curator at New York's Museum of the Moving Image calls "one of the best films ever made about watching a documentary", Chloé Galibert-Laîné examines a film that had a profound effect on her.

Penny Lane's The Pain of Others lends itself to Galibert-Laîné's desktop filmmaking, being itself a YouTube compilation film about the online community of Morgellon's patients. 


Bottled Songs / Chloé Galibert-Laîné & Kevin. B Lee / 2020

A collaboration between two leading lights of Desktop cinema, Bottled Songs is described as 'an audiovisual exploration of terrorism in the age of social media'. It takes the form of a series of video letters exchanged between Chloé Galibert-Laîné and Kevin B. Lee, documenting their investigations of online media related to the audiovisual propaganda produced by ISIS. Islamic State Kevin B.

You can read an article by the pair in Filmmaker Magazine here, read about the project on Lee's website here or on Galibert-Laîné's website here, where you can also view one of the films: My Crush Was a Superstar

Here's a trailer which explains more about their project:


The Follow-Up / Ben Berman / 2020 / 5 mins

Ben Berman, director of The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, made this very funny desktop short in the midst of the pandemic, examining the world of Cameo - a website where users can get personalised shout-outs from celebrities - as a tool for human connection. ⁠