Course Descriptions


Advanced Documentary Field Production
This course is designed to teach the theoretical, aesthetic and technical principles of non-linear editing for documentary. Principally, students will be taught how to: digitize and organize source material, create basic effects and titles, develop sequences and organize and edit your raw materials into a polished final product. Throughout the semester we will screen various films for the expressed purpose of analyzing the editing techniques used by the filmmakers.

Cinematography and Sound
In this class you will be introduced to the fundamental principles of visual storytelling techniques. Through hands-on technical workshops, screenings, lectures, projects and discussions, you will develop cinematography, lighting and sound design skills.

Documentary History
The purpose of this course is to acquaint students with the historical development of documentary film from its roots in 19th-century art forms to the present.  The course will examine various styles and techniques of documentary and will analyze the contribution of the documentary as a persuasive means of communication to achieve social and political goals.  In addition, it will provide an examination of how the “masters” did it and how their different aesthetic as well as personal and political philosophies shaped their vision and version of reality.

Documentary Law and Ethics
Students will explore the legal and ethical issues that can arise in the course of documentary filmmaking.  The discussion points in this class will evolve from the in-depth examination of a select group of films and their directors. The overriding focus of our conversations will be on the aspects of these films that illustrate the filmmaker’s struggle to capture and present reality, the various methods they employ to achieve this and the potential impact on all involved–filmmaker, subject and audience

Documentary Storytelling I
The course provides an introduction to the fundamental theory and craft of non-fiction visual storytelling and familiarizes students with concepts such as drama, structure, story development and visual style.

Documentary Storyelling II
This course teaches students how to research, conceptualize and develop a non-fiction story idea.  Students receive instruction on effective research strategies, idea development, production planning, and proposal writing and pitching.

Documentary Storytelling III
The class focuses on advanced principles of writing, producing, directing and editing documentary.  Theoretical, aesthetic, technical and ethical aspects of the creative non-fiction storytelling process will be the focus. The class format will be a combination of theory and practice as it relates to the dramaturgical process of filmmaking.

Documentary Storytelling IV
The course combines lectures, screenings, and exercises to build a technical and aesthetic foundation in digital post-production. Special emphasis will be placed on advanced visual storytelling techniques–including continuity, pacing, character development and dramatic structure. Students will also explore various distribution strategies and transmedia applications.

Entrepreneurship Education in Non-fiction Filmmaking
Recognizing that artists must be entrepreneurs in the current climate of decreased government and foundation funding for the arts, this course provides students with the foundation knowledge and tools to start their own creative venture and insights into and tools for teaching entrepreneurship

Fundamentals of Documentary Editing
This class is designed to compliment the storytelling skills students will be receiving in the research, cinematography and writing courses by focusing on the theoretical, aesthetic and technical principles of non-linear editing for documentary. Special emphasis will be placed on understanding and using rhythm, pacing, point-of-view, screen direction, matching cuts, sound design and graphics to craft compelling stories.

Imagination Project
The Imagination Project pairs documentary film program graduate  students with undergraduates from multiple disciplines to produce short digital films, e-books and other forms of transmedia on a single project with a liberal arts and humanities focus.  For example, students in this course produced a series of short films and digital study guides on artists of the Holocaust in cooperation with Yad Vashem, the world’s premier Holocaust museum.

Pedagogy and Curriculum
Provides an understanding of pedagogical practices and major theories of curriculum and provide a foundation for students interested in pursuing careers in academe.

Teaching Practicum
Students work closely with DFP faculty during the teaching of a course.  Students participate in the design and development of course material and observe classroom and organizational aspects of teaching in an apprenticeship role.