This six-month program is both a theoretical and hands-on exploration of the creation of documentary films. We believe that great documentary films are made with intention, vision and foresight. Filmmakers must have a very strong sense of how to achieve their goals with the palette of visual modes available to them. And they need to hold, in the highest regard, the documentarian's ethical responsibility to find the truth in all subject matter. In other words, documentary film is not created by taking out a camera, shooting things that are "real" and then hoping, once you arrive in the editing room, that a compelling story reveals itself to you. It is from this basic premise that the Institute has developed into one of the leading programs in the nation devoted to the production and teaching of non-fiction films.
This is a rigorous, demanding and intensive course. We make no pretense in being able to cover everything offered by a two-year film school. But we do engage an extensive array of conceptual and practical material during the six months of the program. Our primary focus will be on the art and craft of creating documentary films and we will briefly touch on other elements, such as the business side of producing film.
First and foremost, we require that our students think intelligently about film; to see many films, deconstruct those films and understand the critical elements of making films in various genres. Our students do not pick up a camera and instead learn to edit right away. In the first phase of the program,we bring our students to a common vocabulary and understanding of documentary filmmaking prior to learning the more rudimentary lessons of how to operate the tools to make such films.
Students learn more about cinematography, lighting, sound and editing through technical training workshops the two months of production for the student-produced film.
Applicants should think of the Institute experience as a "boot camp" for documentary filmmaking. It is a challenging, rigorous, fast-paced and intensive program. It is expected that our students come to us with a commitment that is singular for this six-month period. Our participants find that there is time for little else, especially when you are working on your story-board project, when you engage technical training and finally when you are in production on the capstone film. In addition, we seek to have our students not only take responsibility for their own progress but equally for the progress of those around them.
PLEASE REMEMBER: You must receive at least a "B" in both the spring semester (six graduate credits) and summer session (three graduate credits) in order to successfully complete the program and receive a Certificate in Documentary Filmmaking.