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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 16, 2018

Ken Burns to launch documentary filmmaking course online

By Todd Spangler | Aug 09, 2018

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Ken Burns is promising to spill the beans on what goes into making his famous documentary films in his first online course.

Burns, one of America’s best-known and prolific documentary filmmakers, is teaming with online-education startup MasterClass for the series of lessons, slated to launch this fall. His class is open for pre-registration now, available for $90 at masterclass.com or the MasterClass iOS apps. MasterClass also offers a $180 annual subscription, which offers unlimited access to all its courses.

Over more than 40 years, Burns has produced a huge corpus of acclaimed documentaries, including “Brooklyn Bridge,” “The Civil War,” “Baseball,” “Jazz,” “The Statue of Liberty,” “The War,” “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” “Jackie Robinson” and “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War.”

His docu-series “The Vietnam War,” which premiered on PBS last fall, has been watched by over 39 million people. Burns’ latest film, “The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science,” will air on PBS on Sept. 25, 2018.

In his online course, Burns will explain how to tap into the “drama of truth” by deconstructing scenes from some of his most notable works to detail how he finds the human story in true events. Students in his MasterClass will have the opportunity to access early rough cuts of “The Vietnam War” as Burns walks through how the filmmakers refined the story in the editing process.

“I realized very early on that the laws of storytelling also applied to documentaries,” Burns said in a statement. “In my MasterClass, I explore the ways in which I strive to bring the same expositional tools of a feature film to documentary filmmaking along with many more lessons on how to master the art of storytelling in a way that activates your audience’s imagination.”

Burns, who just turned 65, has won 15 Emmy Awards and two Grammy Awards, and he has two Oscars nominations. In 2008, he was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a lifetime achievement award.

Launched in 2015, MasterClass currently offers 35 different courses from celebs spanning entertainment, writing, sports, dance, photography, cooking and other domains. Its roster of instructors includes Shonda Rhimes, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Ron Howard, Helen Mirren, Samuel L. Jackson, Steve Martin, Margaret Atwood, James Patterson, Hans Zimmer, Werner Herzog, Aaron Sorkin, David Mamet, Stephen Curry, Annie Leibovitz, Gordon Ramsay and Judd Apatow.

San Francisco-based MasterClass has raised $56.4 million from investors including Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Javelin Venture Partners, and Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Beta early-stage VC firm.

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