Film History: (Almost) Alone with a Video Camera

With the ubiquity of high-budget, pop documentaries featuring unsolved murders, fancy title sequences, and endless meme-able material, making a film can seem daunting and unobtainable. Why not start by examining filmmakers who develop projects with a minimal or absent crew?

Join visiting artist Cuyler Ballenger to explore a range of contemporary and established documentary filmmakers who make it work with little to no crew. These films range from extravagant war stories by Matthew Heineman, the satirical autobiography of Agnes Varda,  Jean Rouch & Kazuhiro Soda’s historical and contemporary ethnographies, and the decades-long career of Frederick Wiseman. The filmmakers’ philosophical and technical approaches to their films will be considered and further contextualized within more familiar filmmaking forms. Discover how and what these filmmakers can accomplish to fuel your next project. Over the session, students will expand their definition of documentary and knowledge of film history. Students with a budding interest in making films will be introduced to techniques to begin their practice.

Cuyler Ballenger is a video artist, filmmaker, and actor from Novato, California. By combining documentary filmmaking and contemporary art elements, his work portrays labor, addiction, and family candidly. Ballenger earned his BA in Rhetoric and Film Studies from UC Berkeley in 2008. He is currently based in Sonoma, CA, and Houston, TX.


Registration & Fees: $90
Members Enjoy 20% Off Tuition


Register Become A Member

Attention: This class has been moved online in response to the growing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Please register as you normally would, and Houston Center for Photography staff will update you with information and a link to take this course at it’s scheduled time. 

To participate in an online course, students will need access to a desktop, laptop, or tablet with an internet connection. If you have any questions about navigating our new system, please email education@hcponline.org for more information.




Class meets Saturday, February 27th
11 am - 2 pm CST



What to Bring to Class

Access to a computer with an internet connection
Pen & paper


Cuyler Ballenger