"Dissecting Documentaries" The Art of Filmmaking Explored



Documentary filmmaker Peter Nicholson readies his presentation

The essential question posed by the award-winning writer of over fifty documentaries Peter Nicholson was "What is the creative treatment of actuality?"


The film auteur began his fascinating talk on on the factual storytelling that is the documentary film by offering this definition: Observations and condensations of reality. Documentaries are for the the filmmaker "life caught unawares"( a quote from a Verini sonnet.)


"It's all about good storytelling", he told a rapt audience.


Jim Egan joins an animated discussion with Dr. Brian Sullivan on the

topic of filmmaking

Introduced byLynne Rey, Mr. Nicholson presented a fascinating slide presentation about the art and craft of the documentary, a precursor to a documentary film series for members and guests at the venerableRedwoodLibrary. The slides were from his 50 award winning documentaries, which include:"Japan Tsunami: Caught on Camera", "The Day of the Kamikaze," "Nuremberg:Goering's Last Stand", and "Pompeii: The Last Day".

The gracious Mr. Nicholson, godson of Salon Series committee member Nel Roberts, thanked Ms. Rey and the committee, describing many sub- genres in documentary filmmaking, and how the audience must be identified in advance. Citing his disturbing film "Last Flight to Kuwait", on an event that occurred on August 1 and 2 of 1990, in which hostage families were portrayed as guests of their captors, he said the event istself, hence the film, incited controversy. He also spoke about "Moonstruck", which used Led Zeppelin's 1969 music for the race to control space. The audience had many questions.


Discussing "The Last Flight to Kumati"

Q: Then"Apollo 13" is not a documentary?
A.  It is a factual drama.

Q. What aboutMichael Moore, who has a purpose to serve?
A. Michael Moore is proselytizing. Only a certain type of filmmaker appears in his own film.

Q. Do you shoot your own films?
A. Tend not to, as it needs a 360 degree vision.

Q. What other countries are doing documentaries?
A. "Scandinavian noir" is an emerging genre.

Seen in the audience of the Thursday Salon Series were Redwood Library Director Jennifer Tuleja, Brian Sullivan, Brendan Kelley, Elise O'Shaughnessy, Brook Roberts, Julie Toland,  Jonathan andMarie Keck, and Faroline Higginson, partaking of wine, cheese and animated conversation.


The cupola of the redwood Library's Reading Room

Peter Nicholson, multi award winning director of documentary, drama-documentary and drama with credits on UK and international channels and extensive co-production experience, informed and wowed the Redwoodaudience.


A BAFTA winner, Peter Nicholson has twenty-eight years experience writing, directing and producing prime-time UK network and international television programmes. He trained in film drama under the British feature film director Mike Figgis and in documentary with the late Denis Mitchell. In 2011, Peter set up Peter Nicholson Films Ltd, to develop independent film projects. "Dartmoor Killing", PNF'S first feature is currently in advanced development. For information go to www.facebook.com/DartmoorKilling.


Lynne Rey introducing the Redwood's new documentary film series

Mr. Nicholson's films are available on DVD

Mr. Nicholson was gracious and fascinating

 (Editor's note:  The new documentary film series, "Screen and Discuss" at the Redwood library will screen one film per month on Saturdays. Each includes a post-film discussion. Please see the full schedule at:www.redwoodlibrary.org/redwood-librarys-screen-and-discuss-documentary-film-series)











Past Headlines

Jessica Hagen Gallery Heralds Spring with James Coe Exhibit

Brenda Nienh ... more »

Two Private Soirées in Elegant, Historic Newport Homes

Allison Vare ... more »

Fifth Annual Daffodillion a Blooming Success: Spring Fling a Sellout

“So when you see clouds upon the hill, there soon will be crowds ... more »




NEWPORT SEEN:  "Best Online Media Creation"


"Best Online Writing" 

                         -- CT Press club & National League of Press Women