School should allow a lot to be learned - which is to say it should teach very little.
Josef Albers, Artist and Bauhaus teacher.



In 2003 Mark Aitken founded the non-profit company polkadots on raindrops. At the time 'digital' was still a relatively new word along with the opportunity to carry production gear and an edit suite in one small bag. All at once, making films cost nothing and imagination and ideas could take a front seat. Mistakes and accidents could be explored without penalties. This was and still is a great time to work in film education.


The heart of a story is discovered in the telling. Our work engages documentary, oral history, drama, essay and folktale to produce films that reveal emotional truth. With over 50 films to their credit, students working with Mark and fellow practitioners have continually been surprised by their discoveries and new found abilities. Many have progressed to work professionally with film and digital media. Others have a much sharper awareness of how to interpret our image saturated world.


Skills practiced on our courses include writing, photography, camerawork, lighting, acting, producing, sound recording, editing, radio production and interviewing. Our work as practitioners is to offer clear creative boundaries but we also encourage students to set their own disciplines to work with. Learning and breaking the rules isn't enough. Much better to make your own rules. The learning is in the making.


I wasn't afraid of experimenting - just having a go and exploring.

Gino Green, Student


 Manifesto for film making and other artistic adventures.

1. You have to know the rules to break them but you should always make up your own rules.

2. Trust your intuition. You need to use your brain before and after filming but not during it.

3. Seek the extraordinary in everyday objects – richness in the banal. Question why pain, suffering and violence are popular subjects for films.

4. If you’re going to interview someone then allow them to talk about anything they want to talk about – this way they’ll reveal more about themselves.

5. Why make a film? Don’t film if you can live without filming - just write it or say it. If you want to say something then film someone not talking. Film only if you want to show something. This concerns every single shot within the film.

6. Don’t try to save the world or change the world. Better if your film changes you. Discover both the world and yourself while filming.

7. Film when you aren’t sure if you hate or love your subject. Doubts are crucial for making art.

8. Try not to force people to repeat actions or words. Life is unrepeatable and unpredictable.

9. Film are films – stories are stories. Think what the viewers will feel when seeing your shots. Then, form a dramatic structure using the changes in their feelings. Find a film – not a story.

10. Not working is only the build up to working. There is nothing more important than your own work but never feel bad about not working.

11. Believe that editing is the most fun you will ever have.

12. At the end of working each day – ask yourself what you’re curious about – what do you need to know? Keep a record of this and refer back to it so as to understand your work process.

Compiled and culled from thoughts by Mark Aitken, Victor Kossakovsky and David Wingate (all documentary film makers).


I write because I don't know what to think until I read what I say.

Flannery O'Connor