DOC 224 Documentary Production I

Erika Valenciana

Fall 2023-2024
Class number: 13565
Section number: 404
Th 1:30PM - 4:45PM
CDM 00708 Loop Campus


Course Overview This introductory course explores a wide variety of documentary styles and techniques. Through screenings of classic and contemporary films, lecture and discussion, students learn different styles of documentary storytelling and visualization and apply these to exercises over the quarter.


Introduction to Documentary, Third Edition by: Bill Nichols


Assignment 1: Portrait of a Moment Project 30% Pre-Production Package Assembly Cut or Footage Sample Fine Cut Assignment 2: Archival + Voice Project 50% Pitch Pre-Production Package Interview footage (if not included in the film) Rough Cut Fine Cut Picture lock with Color Correction & Sound Mix/Final Edit Attendance, In Class Participation, Reflections & Participation/Mini Assignments 20% Total Percentage 100%



Week 1:
What is Documentary?
Intros, expectations, D2L, equipment

Review: Syllabus & Assignments
-Portrait of a Moment FILM

Screen & Analyze: Shorts
READ: Chapter 1 “How Can We Define Documentary Film?” Chapters provided on D2L.
Assign: Fill out survey (5 pts)

Portrait of a Moment FILM due wk 5


Week 2: 9/14 Interviewing Preparing and research Pre-interviewing -What is in a pre-production package? -POAM Groups assigned Screen & Analyze: Shorts / Clips READ: Chapter 6 “How Can We Differentiate Among Documentary Models and Modes? What are Poetic, Expository, and Reflexive Modes? -In groups: Discuss ideas & pick topic Assign: -Pre-Pro Package due wk 3 Week 3: 9/21 Documentary Modes & Camera -Storytelling through camera -Essential shots -Shot sizes & camera angles Screen & Analyze: Shorts / Clips READ: Chapter 7 “How Can We Describe the Observational, Participatory, and Performative Modes?” Edit: Portrait of a Moment FILM Assign: -POAM assembly cut or scene due next week Portrait of a Moment Pre-Pro Package DUE Email me your groups for the Archival film or if you prefer I assign you to one Week 4: 9/28 Documentary Modes & Sound -storytelling through sound Screen & Analyze: Archival Films POAM footage/assembly/scene READ: Chapter 2 “Why Are Ethical Issues Central to Documentary Filmmaking?” Assign: Archival FILM POAM assembly cut or scene DUE 2 Archival Film Ideas due next week Week 5: 10/5 Portrait of a Moment Feedback Screen & Critique: Portrait of a Moment FILMs Pitching -tricks & tips Portrait of a Moment FILM DUE 2 Archival FILM ideas DUE Assign: Portrait of a Moment Reflection Assign: Archival Film Pitch DUE next week Week 6: 10/12 Interviewing Techniques Discuss Archival FILM & Groups Pitch Archival FILM ideas Screen & Analyze: Shorts / Clips READ: Chapter 10 “I Want to Make a Documentary, Where Do I Start?” DUE: Portrait of a Moment FILM reflection Assign: Archival Film Pre-Pro package Week 7: 10/19 Archival FILM -group meeting time -instructor meetings with groups READ: Chapter 3 “What Gives Documentaries a Voice of Their Own?” Watch: short film DUE: Archival Film Pre-Pro package Week 8: 10/26 Narrative Structure -Structuring a narrative -Organizing footage, transcribing, logging In groups: Structure diagram exercise Screen: shorts/clips READ: Chapter 4 “What Makes Documentary Filmmaking Engaging and Persuasive?” Rough Cut due next week Week 9: 11/2 Post Production Screen & Feedback: Interviews/ Rough Cuts READ: Chapter 8 “How Have Documentaries Addressed Social and Political Issues?” DUE: ARCHIVAL ROUGH CUT Week 10: 11/9 Archival Fine Cuts -Screen & Critique Attendance Mandatory DUE: ARCHIVAL FINE CUT

School policies:

Changes to Syllabus

This syllabus is subject to change as necessary during the quarter. If a change occurs, it will be thoroughly addressed during class, posted under Announcements in D2L and sent via email.

Online Course Evaluations

Evaluations are a way for students to provide valuable feedback regarding their instructor and the course. Detailed feedback will enable the instructor to continuously tailor teaching methods and course content to meet the learning goals of the course and the academic needs of the students. They are a requirement of the course and are key to continue to provide you with the highest quality of teaching. The evaluations are anonymous; the instructor and administration do not track who entered what responses. A program is used to check if the student completed the evaluations, but the evaluation is completely separate from the student’s identity. Since 100% participation is our goal, students are sent periodic reminders over three weeks. Students do not receive reminders once they complete the evaluation. Students complete the evaluation online in CampusConnect.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

This course will be subject to the university's academic integrity policy. More information can be found at If you have any questions be sure to consult with your professor.

All students are expected to abide by the University's Academic Integrity Policy which prohibits cheating and other misconduct in student coursework. Publicly sharing or posting online any prior or current materials from this course (including exam questions or answers), is considered to be providing unauthorized assistance prohibited by the policy. Both students who share/post and students who access or use such materials are considered to be cheating under the Policy and will be subject to sanctions for violations of Academic Integrity.

Academic Policies

All students are required to manage their class schedules each term in accordance with the deadlines for enrolling and withdrawing as indicated in the University Academic Calendar. Information on enrollment, withdrawal, grading and incompletes can be found at

Students with Disabilities

Students who feel they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss their specific needs. All discussions will remain confidential.
To ensure that you receive the most appropriate accommodation based on your needs, contact the instructor as early as possible in the quarter (preferably within the first week of class), and make sure that you have contacted the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) at:
Lewis Center 1420, 25 East Jackson Blvd.
Phone number: (312)362-8002
Fax: (312)362-6544
TTY: (773)325.7296