The result

After too weeks of intensive work, the movie is out of the box. Using the material colected from all the class I was able to do my original idea. Creating a portrait of Porto, between the contrast of different “Portos”. The Porto of the sea, the fishermans the slow movement, Porto where the time don´t matter. The second Porto, other with other life, “life” of people of machines, Porto of quick movement. The new Porto. And at the finish, the Porto, more Porto, the tipical city, the more truth felling, with singular movements, smell, people and sounds.

Thanks to all the class and to Karen, that helped me put my idea in practice.

Hugo Couto


“From Bottom to Top” by Daniel Pinheiro
(result from the Collaborative Documentary Workshop’09)


A short essay about the layers of Porto. A vertical overview of the city going trough the bottom, middle and top of the city and the association that can be made to each one of those words/concepts.
Visually metaphoric this short piece is about a certain kind of naiveness that can be found within the younger people that habit the city…

Film language turned out to be in this workshop a mean to build 7 essays about the city, its different aspects and particularities; going from a general overview of the city to the kind of people who are in part of it (either everyday or just circunstancial), also going trough small details that make the city different from other cities in the world.
Documentaries can take several forms (in terms of concept and artistic result) but never the less they part from real and script-free footage, gradually growing into a metaphorical third eye trough which the viewer sees only what the director wants them to see. (Subjectiveness is always part of the Documentarie… otherwise raw footage would do the portrait it self.)
As an art form documentaries take place first inside the creator’s mind.

I believe the 7 results of the workshop are indeed a good portrait of the “Seven Bridges Town”; a melancholic collaborative essay that captured the city in different ways, its mood and the people in it.
A very traditional and historic town, where urbanism is constantly trying to invade the rurality of it, a disturbing presence that has, for many years, established a conflictive intersection between past and future.

Pickups, final cut and screening
Between Tuesday and Friday, we were all a bit frantic trying to come up with a final piece that pleased us. I had been working on two very different sequences, but on Tuesday I made up my mind and decided to go for the more realistic visual approach. I went to the Fluvial area a third time and was fortunate to get a few shots that proved decisive: a few more of trailers, the arcade booth and its staff, all of which found a way onto my final cut. I managed to work towards a piece with increasing chromatic congruency, but the audio was still bugging me.  On Friday, most of my time was spent on audio transitions and eventually on the subtitling of spoken shots. I also spent some time with Luís and Vergilio discussing possibilities for their montage, but we were on such a tight schedule there was no occasion for a proper class screening. I had a chance to screen a provisional version and it was very helpful; it helped me articulate and justify some of the ideas behind the editing and the footage itself. On the other hand, the input I got made me revise some of my previous options and this is the extent to which I find the collaboration to be all the more interesting.

All in all, I think we learned a lot in terms of taming the camera and the edition tools and the workshop produced good material, but I feel that there was a deficit of discussion in our final week. Also, its great to have a public screening, but that should’ve entailed a period for debate, suggestions, etc. It’s important to feel a little more skilled on a practical level, absolutely;  however, the theoretical grounds of documental cinema could’ve been further explored and that could’ve helped us in the conception of our projects.

Carlos Figueiredo

Second week shooting up to the screening night

Another week started, the last footages would be captured and, in the middle, the S. João party.

All “cousins” running, up to the day of the screening, at “Maus Hábitos” café.


The challenge started with the selection of what could be the last footages and with the thoughts about the planed script – this it will fit, or not, with the material prepared?


The S. João party it was great but not friendly for the tight schedule.

So, all the “cousins” decided to work during the afternoon of S. João holiday.


Thursday, the day before, of the last, and the documentary planed started to take a different rood.

We have shoot nine interviews, hours of film in the city, designed a huge script (or, what we thought that could be one), and running several brainstorms to plain what could be a documentary for more then 30 minutes, in spite the 4 minutes requested for that.


Friday arrives and the nerves too.

I and Virgílio were challenged for that – another one.


Virgílio it’s a professional photographer, with many works done in several countries – he is someone accustomed to work with them self.


My self, I’m running my won company, a Internet start-up, and I’m accustomed to manage multitask teams – accustomed to follow a idea, a plan, something for more then one person, and to discuss my ideas up to the end.


So, as result we find the need to focus all our energy to manage our way to be (from our working behaviour and way to do) to redefine the final project and agree what should be the final film – since we would need to cut a lot on the script and on the film (footages selection), because the time to edit the best material wouldn’t be enough.


And it was like that, that we arrived to the last frame of our documentary.

All done, thanks to Virgílio and the help of the “cousins” – colleagues of workshop – thanks again to Maria (viva la spaña and their beautiful existing, located on the top of Portugal: Galiza), thanks to Constança, which advise help us to find the last road, at last moment, thanks to Karen, our teacher, that drove us rather well in this last, and stressfully, stage of the workshop, and thanks again to  the teacher of the Faculty, that give a hand with the last editing sound stuff.


After the running, we where all very happy with the result – the possible one in such short time.


The experience, the new knowledge and the all fun it surpassed my expectation.


Fun, from the discussions about several topics related documentaries and so on.

Fun, for the days of shooting and talks with the crazy, but very professional Virgílio, my partner on documentary.

Fun, for my comeback to Porto – one year after to leave the city, where I leaved for 6 years.

Fun, to be together and meet, new “cousins”.


And that’s it, the history of the documentary “cousin of my cousin”.

From that I and Virgílio we tried to reveal a bit of the beauty of the soul of Porto – their huge pot of culture, life, joy and forward movement of their people and the city.

And before the final posts get here, time is starting to count backwards rightnow, [time: 6.15 p.m.]


Screening of the works developed during the SUMMER SCHOOL INSTITUTE 2009 at the Advanced Animation and Collaborative Documentary workshops.

Produced by
UTAustin | Portugal
International Collaboratory for Emerging Technologies, CoLAB.

Today @ Maus Hábitos (Porto) | 22h

I have been working on projects on socio-cultural documental photography, and I am sure that the contents of the workshop will correspond to my need of broadening perspectives on the issues around portraits of the city and improve my abilities to work with digital media.