Backpack Video Journalism

with Bill Gentile
at American University

May 15 - 18, 2023

Join the Revolution

The tools for instant, global, visual communication now fit in your backpack: a video camera, laptop, editing software and Internet connection. The era of the backpack video journalist is here. It is revolutionizing the worldwide exchange of information and ideas — and changing the way we live.

Emmy award winning backpack video journalist Bill Gentile, a pioneer in his field with over 40 years of experience, teaches people to produce powerful TV and web productions. Information is power, and we aim to help you harness that power to document and to change the world.

In a four-day intensive workshop you learn the full range of skills required for effective visual storytelling—from idea development and pitching to shooting, producing, scriptwriting, narrating and editing the final product. You also learn to market your work, using the latest and most effective social media tools.

So, join the revolution. REGISTER today for the next Backpack Video Journalism Workshop with Bill Gentile.


The Backpack Video Journalism Workshops with Bill Gentile are conducted at American University’s School of Communication in Washington, DC.

You will learn how to:

What are the Video Journalism Workshops?

The Backpack Video Journalism Workshops with Bill Gentile are intensive, four-day immersions in the craft of “backpack journalism” defined as character-driven television/web productions with hand-held digital cameras by a single practitioner. The workshops cover the gamut of this storytelling craft from the genesis and shaping of story ideas, to shooting powerful images that drive the story, to the capture and use of sound, to script writing, narration, and editing with laptop computers. These workshops are appropriate for beginners with some experience as well as existing practitioners who desire to sharpen their skills or acquire new ones. We welcome photojournalists, print and video journalists, aspiring documentarians, filmmakers and independent storytellers.

Who should attend?

The Backpack Video Journalism Workshops with Bill Gentile are for beginners with some experience as well as more seasoned practitioners who want to sharpen their skills and acquire new ones. We welcome still photojournalists making the transition to film and video. Print journalists seeking to expand their skills will find the workshops particularly useful. Broadcast journalists accustomed to the technology and techniques preceding today’s hand-held digital cameras will find that the newer equipment delivers a more immediate, more intimate version of visual communication than their predecessors. Video journalists, documentarians, filmmakers and independent storytellers who want to expand their skill set and learn from one of the pioneers in the field also will benefit from the workshops. You must be at least 18 years old to attend.

What will I learn?

Day 1:
Day 2:
Day 3:
Day 4:

You will learn how to use the power of visual information. You will learn to use hand-held digital cameras to document and to change the world you live in. You will learn a new language and you will learn to participate in the international dialogue that is visual communication. You will learn how to make powerful television and web productions, to tailor your work for greatest impact, to package your presentation and to mold your message for major broadcasters and Internet outlets. You will learn about gaining access to the editors and producers of television and Internet venues and how to compete with some of the best video documentary makers, journalists and storytellers in the field. And you will learn how to post your work on the Internet.

View previous student work here.



Above, Bill Gentile documents U.S. Marines during a major 2008 offensive in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province for a film broadcast by NOW on PBS. “Afghanistan: The Forgotten War,” was a finalist for a national Emmy Award. Watch here.

The primary teacher and the driving force behind the workshops is Bill Gentile, an independent filmmaker teaching at American University in Washington, DC. He is a pioneer in the craft of video journalism and character-driven documentary, and is one of the first to use the hand-held digital cameras that have revolutionized visual communication for television and the Web. He worked for Video News International (VNI), precursor of The New York Times Television Company, and has completed assignments for The Learning Channel, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic Television, ABC’s Nightline With Ted Koppel, NOW With Bill Moyers, NOW on PBS, Court TV and Lion TV. He shared the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Human Rights Reporting, Honorable Mention, for a story on rape during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. He shared two National Emmy Awards and was nominated for two others.

To read more about Gentile and his career, see his recent memoir,
Wait For Me: True Stories of War, Love and Rock & Roll


Gentile’s most recent film, “FREELANCERS with Bill Gentile: Mexico,” is distributed across Latin America and the Caribbean by the Walt Disney Company’s National Geographic Television; and across the Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by Al Jazeera.
You can view the sizzle reel here.

American University Profile

Also teaching at the workshop will be assistants whom Gentile has chosen for their level of professional achievement, technical proficiency and capacity to teach.

Where are the workshops held?

The Video Journalism Workshops are held at American University in Washington, DC.

What should participants bring?

Participants are required to bring their own digital camera, laptop computer with video editing software and external hard drive. We strongly suggest digital cameras with manual capability to allow practitioners to control aperture, shutter speed and focus. You can also use your cell phone.

How much does it cost?

The four-day workshop, which runs from about 9 am to 6 pm each day, costs $1,295.00 per participant.

Does the fee include room, board or travel?

The fee does not include room, board or travel. All expenses incurred are responsibility of the participant.

How do I enroll in the workshop?

Fill out our online registration form and pay using the gateway. You may also send check or money order to Bill Gentile:

Bill Gentile Productions
3243 Quesada St. NW
Washington, DC 20015

You can also pay with credit card.

Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Space is limited so don’t wait to apply.

Can I get a refund if I have a sudden change of plans?

You get a 100 percent refund if you notify us 14 days or more prior to the beginning of the course.
You get a 50 percent refund if you notify us between seven and 13 days prior to the beginning of the course.
You get 0 percent refund if you advise us fewer than six days prior to the beginning of the course.

Customer Service:

Bill Gentile
3243 Quesada St. NW
Washington, DC 20015

[email protected]

Register Today