Documentary Production and Critical Practices

Course Description:

This graduate course will provide conceptual and hands-on experience for researching, writing and producing independent documentary video with a focus on critical arts practice. Documentary can be understood as both a product of existing social conditions and as a form of critical opposition to them. This course will emphasize independent video production from invention of the documentary idea to post-production. In this course, critical pedagogy will be harnessed as a means for developing creative self-expression. First, students will be invited to explore their own creative development AND harness critical analysis as a conceptual tool to unpack how meaning is constructed through cinematic language. Second, these insights will inform the creation of a documentary video short. The course is constructed to encourage students to understand and harness the connections between critical theory, documentary history and media production. Every student will write a small documentary proposal. The most viable proposals will be used to begin production on documentary shorts. All films in the class will be submitted to a local or small film festival.

Course Objectives:

This course has the following objectives:

  • Increasing knowledge relevant to the analysis documentary and critical theory
  • Engaging with critical theory as a means of creative expression
  • Developing skills as a critic, writer, editor, director and researcher
  • Acquiring skills necessary for producing independent documentary
  • Applying methods of criticism to the documentary video production process

Course Requirements:

Written Assignments

Written Proposal                                                            75

Visual Proposal                                                               50

Critical Practice Journal                                                  200

 Documentary Production

Assignment One: Interview and Space                           30

Assignment Two: Vox Pop                                               30

Assignment Three: Direct Cinema                                   30

Assignment Four: Archive                                                30

Documentary Short (Individual)

8-12 minutes                                                                    300


Critical feedback to peers                                                100

Project Presentation                                                         100

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