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Course Information

Instructor Info:Crescent Diamond
TA Info:John Gunther
Office Extension x5713
Jack Furtado
Neil Young
Office Extension x5759
Andrew Hart
Isabel Moss
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Wednesday
01:00 PM - 03:50 PM Jerome Liebling Center 120
04:00 PM - 06:00 PM Jerome Liebling Center 131

"If anthropology is fundamentally, in the words of Margaret Mead, "a discipline of words," then documentary, is, most fundamentally, a discipline of visual calls for an ethics of responsibility, an aesthetics of film form, and a politics of representation."--Bill Nichols, "Documenting the Documentary."

"What 'truth' does a 'documentary' reveal? The answer is far simpler than it might seem. The "truth" revealed is that someone or something turned on a camera somewhere and light was inscribed in an electronic or digital signal or on nitrate. These marks in light may resemble something familiar -- but it is always a new space made by the light so imprinted or registered on its new plane. Once this light, this so-called "image" has been ripped out of time by the camera, it exists only as an abstract etching, imitating the light of its source. " "Toward the Essay Film," by Joan Braderman.

Reading about non-fiction, analyzing and comparing fiction with non-fiction works and making films and videos, we will explore the above ideas and others, especially those related to the specific filmmaking processes and stages of production when working on location. Students must have some background in film or videomaking in the context of a course and will be expected to produce original works in these mediums.

Course Objectives:

To study documentary film theory, to be able to analyze and critique films, to learn the skills required to produce and edit one short documentary film. 

Evaluation Criteria:

Attendance: You are required to attend every class and lab/screening time.  If you are sick, don’t come to class but please email me and let me know.  You will be required to catch up on what we went over that day and you should do so by contacting one of your fellow students, please do not ask me to do this.  Attendance will be taken at the Screening/Lab time on Tuesday afternoons as well.  If you miss more than 3 classes, you will not get an evaluation. 

Turning in assignments:  Most assignments will be due in class.  If you turn in an assignment late, that will show up in your evaluation.  You will not receive an evaluation if you fail to turn in any assignment. 

In-class participation: It is absolutely vital that you participate in discussions, critiques and workshops.  You should be prepared to talk about the reading and screenings.  Bring the text and have at least one question or comment on the reading ready to discuss in class.  You will be learning how to critique each other’s work in this class and this involves speaking up.  If you do not raise your hand, I will call on you. 

Getting technical help: John Gunther is available for one-on-one training on all of the equipment and software.  Please utilize his help as a resource! 

Reading and assignments:  readings and assignments are due on the date that they are listed in the syllabus on Moodle.  I will, at times, update the syllabus with readings and notes.  Please check Moodle at least once a week to see updates.  I will also be emailing you when I make changes.


Additional Info:

Required Texts:

Documentary Filmmaking: A Contemporary Field Guide.  John Hewitt and Gustavo Vazquez.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Introduction to Documentary, 2nd Edition.  Bill Nichols.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010. 

There is an E-Version of this book at the library website:

Articles that will be posted on Moodle as PDFs. 

Please note that the day that the reading or assignment is listed is the day that it is DUE.