SFDFF On The Road Workshop

As part of SFDFF’s Touring Program, we offer the option of adding a dynamic filmmaking workshop to your screening event led by filmmaker and SFDFF Technical Director Ben Estabrook. The goal of this three or six-day workshop is to introduce students to filmmaking techniques that will help to bring out a kinesthetic vibrance in their dance films. This workshop will guide students, through a hands-on approach, to explore different methods of moving the camera in relation to the dance. Both traditional filmmaking practices and improvised approaches will be investigated. In addition to the practice of dance filmmaking, the workshop will also touch on the history and theory of screendance.

The six-day workshop provides the time for each student to shoot and edit a film of her or his own. It explores the same filmmaking techniques as the three-day workshop, and goes further indepth into key components of a successful dance film such as location, costume, sound recording, editing, and sound design.

To add a filmmaking workshop to one of our screening packages, CLICK HERE to fill out our request form.

Three-Day Workshop

  • Concept
  • Choreography
  • Camera performance
  • Dancer(s) performance

Six-Day Workshop

  • Concept
  • Location
  • Costume
  • Choreography
  • Camera performance
  • Dancer(s) performance
  • Sound recording
  • Editing
  • Sound design

Sample schedule for first day of the three-day workshop (subject to change)

9:00–9:30 Introductions
9:30–9:45 Warm-up
9:45–10:45 Looking Box Exercise
10:45–12:00 How to move the camera (lecture & demonstration)
Screening: The Time it Takes, Home Alone
12:00–1:00 Lunch!
1:00–2:00 How to move the camera (lecture & demonstration, cont.)
2:00–3:00 Improvised dance & shooting exercise with scores
3:00–4:00 Discussion and review of footage from shooting exercise
4:00–4:15 Break
4:15–6:00 Why to move the camera (lecture & demonstration)
Screening: Anna Karenina, 21 Etudes
6:00–7:30 Dinner
7:30–9:00 Attend screening of SFDFF On Tour


• A large (>40″) television or projector (with speakers) with HDMI input.
• A video camera and tripod for every four students.
• If not available, if students have smartphones with video cameras, that will work, too.
• A large, multi-purpose room (or rooms) that can serve as a space to screen films as well as a room for movement and shooting exercises.
• A dolly, wheelchair, or office chair with wheels.
• If students are not trained dancers, then at least one dancer would be requested for the three-day workshop and a small group of dancers would be needed for the six-day workshop.
• The six-day workshop requires access to a computer lab with non-linear editing software (Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere) or each student would need to have access to editing software on her or his own computer. The workshop is not intended to teach editing software, so basic editing knowledge is expected (help with troubleshooting editing issues is to be expected).


SFDFF On-The-Road Workshop with Ben Estabrook
photo: Elena Zhukova

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Ben Estabrook specializes in capturing dance on camera. His interest in screendance led him to the University of Utah, where he graduated with an MFA in Film & Media Arts and a Graduate Certificate in Screendance in 2014. He helped to found the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, for which he is the Technical Director, resident workshop instructor, and a programming committee member. He has given guest lectures on screendance at Stanford University, Mills College, and Brigham Young University. Most recently, he attended the first Symposium for Teachers of Screendance led by Doug Rosenberg and Katrina McPherson at the 2015 American Dance Festival. Additionally, he has participated in dance film workshops with Thierry De Mey and Katrina McPherson.

He was the director of photography for films that have premiered at Dance on Camera, Dance Camera West, and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival (since you went, Veronica & Vincent, Open, and Reflections). In 2012, he worked in Scotland with Katrina McPherson and Simon Fildes on The Time It Takes. Dance film distributor TenduTV selected The Nightingale, a film he shot in 2010, as part of its “Essential Dance Film” series. He has also shot screendance for ODC/ Dance, Project Bandaloop, Little Seismic Dance, Deborah Slater Dance Theater, Fauxnique, and Paul Festa.

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