John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative
John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative

Fall 2016 Classes

Click here for Fall 2017 classes.

video production '69

Production Fundamentals

Documentary Studies


and across the campus offerings in :

Production Fundamentals

DS 113A Interviewing: Skidmore Stories
Eileen McAdam
Tu, 2:10-3:30, 1 credit

Students will learn the basics of oral history interview practices, ethics and techniques, including how to digitally record and transcribe an interview.  We will begin by working on Skidmore stories with  Skidmore alumni and/or Saratoga Springs residents.  Each student will record, log and transcribe two interviews, one from a pre-selected pool of interviewees and another of their own choosing.  Completed oral histories may become part of the Skidmore-Saratoga Memory Project.

DS 116A Video and Virtual Reality (9/7-10/26)
Nicky Tavares
W, 12:10-2:00, 1 credit

A workshop to explore the rapidly evolving landscape of virtual reality from its early beginnings in the 1960s, to its resurgence in the 1990s, to today. Study the impact of VR technology on film/video production, editing, and narrative storytelling.  Experience immersive 360-degree photography, video, and animation.  Learn how to capture, edit, composite, and share camera-based 360-degree content.  Create two original immersive projects: one individual photography project, and one group video project.

DS 302A 001 Video Projects
Ron Taylor
M, 4:00-6:00, 1 credit

Taylor Video Projects
Taylor Video Projects

This course is for students interested in developing a documentary project based on existing or in-progress research in any discipline. Proposed projects may employ video, photography, and/or media work. Students will workshop an individual short project through written reflections, rough cut screenings/presentations and group and individual critiques. Students will focus on finding an approach to form that suits both subject matter and their personal creative and academic goals. Students will also work with readings, technical workshops, screenings, and discussions. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

Documentary Studies

DS 201: Principles of Documentary Studies
Jordana Dym
M/W, 2:30-3:50, 3 credits

The gateway to the Documentary Studies Collaborative. This course introduces local, national and global documentary traditions in film, sound, photography, exhibition and multi-media, through readings, screenings, classroom discussion, and engagement with practitioners. Students will engage with theoretical and practical issues related to documentary work, including critical analysis of existing work and of the distinct ethical and aesthetic concerns associated with developing and telling stories that matter. The course emphasizes how the narrative, analytical, and structural frames of audio, visual and written media shape the work, its audience and impact. Rather than focusing on the production of a documentary in any one form, students get a hands-on experience of various media, and an overview of technical aspects, to help them prepare for extended work in one or more documentary media.

DS 202A: Workshop: Public Service Announcement Video
Jordana Dym; Production Assistance, Eli Ruben, '16
W, 4:15-5:40, 1 credit

Students will learn basic video storytelling through this one-credit video production course. Each will develop two video public service announcements (PSA) over the course of the semester for Skidmore College partners or community partner organizations.  Students will work in small teams to move from concept to completion of the PSAs, which studnets will research, shoot, edit and present.  Skills developed may include pitching, storyboarding, DSLR camera workflow, setting up video interviews and how to tell a visual story.  This is a skills-based visual course for students at any level of experience.  

EN 228 + DS 202A:  Salmagundi Workshop: Magazine Storytelling for Archive-Based Media Projects
Marc Woodworth, Tu/Th, 2:10-3:30
Ron Taylor, Th, 3:40-5
A hands-on workshop dedicated to creating and developing media content inspired by Salmagundi Magazine, the independent international quarterly housed at Skidmore. Students will design and realize projects that include audio, video, digital and multi-media pieces for presentation online. Generating ideas, writing scripts, and contributing to the production and editing of class projects, the members of the workshop will operate as a working collaborative with the goal of publishing their work on the magazine’s social media platforms. Salmagundi, founded in 1965, has featured the writing of many leading figures (including Nobel laureates and iconic intellectuals) in a variety of genres and fields and offers archives of printed material, video, audio, correspondence and photography from 1965 through the present. The magazine’s creative and intellectual scope—encompassing the visual arts, poetry, politics, philosophy, fiction and psychology—offers a broad base for developing creative projects from multiple perspectives.

DS 251B 002: Festival Programming I: From Theory & Practice

Tom Yoshikami

M, 4-6, 2 credits

This course will culminate in the conceptualization of Skidmore’s first student-run documentary arts festival to take place in summer, 2017 to coincide with MDOCS¹ Storytellers' Institute. Students will be introduced to the history of media exhibition, with particular emphasis on the programming of festivals, art-house cinemas, and college film programs over the past seventy-odd years. Through course readings, case studies, discussions with professional programmers, visits to area film festivals and museums, and hands-on programming practice with fall DS events, students will engage with practical and theoretical questions of how to program a festival. While an important focus will be on film, the concepts and methods discussed translate across media. Interested students may continue this course in the Spring for the planning and running of MDOCS' inaugural student run documentary festival.


Jay Kernis (CBS, NBC) on campus with
Eileen McAdam, Spring '15

DS 251C  Introduction to Audio Documentary
Eileen McAdam
Tu/Th, 11:10-12:50, 3 credits

In this course, students will learn the technologies, tools, and skills to create audio documentaries. Working individually and in small production teams, we will produce original sound works for radio broadcast and podcast. Closely linked to the development of our studio and field practice as audio recordists, editors, and producers, we will also listen to and critically analyze examples in the medium, ranging from classics of international radio art to today's most innovative podcasts. Analyzing the aesthetics, extrapolating techniques and getting inspiration from these exemplars, we will try our hands at varied ways of sculpting an audio experience, telling stories, and representing reality. The course assumes no prior knowledge of audio technologies, and should interest budding documentarians, writers, performers, and digital artists regardless of primary medium. Through a partnership with WSPN, students may have the opportunity to appear live on the radio to introduce, air and engage in a discussion about their projects. Note: an optional fourth credit is available for students to work, alongside the instructor, as a collaborative production team on the Skidmore-Saratoga Memory Project in DS 113A Storytellers' Toolkit: Interviewing.


DS 251D: Documentary Film Production
Nicky Tavares
Tu/Th, 9:10-11:00, 4 credits

Documentary Production focuses on the critical and technical skills that support the production of non-fiction video. Basic shooting and editing techniques will be covered as well as an introduction to a wide range of production methods and creative strategies that encourage exploration in all aspects of the medium. Class time will be used for technical workshops, critiques, screenings and discussions. Throughout the semester students will propose, shoot, edit and present a short documentary video.

Riley and crew on campus, 2015
Riley and Crew Filming, 2015

DS-251B 001 Storytelling for the Screen I
Nicole Coady
F, 9:40-11:30, 2 credits

The craft of storytelling for the screen will be honed through examining landmark films, documentaries, television shows and an assortment of new media.  We will put what we learn into practice through writing our own visual stories and class discussion. Over the course of the semester, students will learn the classic three act structure for telling a visual story.  They will develop skills in how to craft a compelling log line, as well as learn to create a skeleton treatment from which to build a story.  They will develop a final treatment which can be shared with other participants in the often collaborative work of telling stories through the various visual mediums available to 21st century storytellers. 

DS 351C Advanced Audio/Multmedia Doc

Adam Tinkle
M, 12:20-3:10, 3 credits

Students who are already adept in one or more digital editing platform (e.g. Pro Tools, Audition, Logic Pro, Ableton, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, Avid, AfterEffects) will produce a series of their own large-scale audio-centric documentary projects. In these projects, we will use the basic toolkit of audio/radio documentary (field recording, interviewing, narration), and extend its expressive potential through integration with cutting-edge multimedia. Projects, whose topics will be driven by student interests, will require both intensive research and a sustained process of drafts, critique, test showings, and exhibition in a variety of unusual settings.  Examples of projects that may emerge include a GPS-aware "sound map" of Skidmore's North Woods (which listeners will be able to explore via mobile devices), the collaborative creation of animated documentary films (in which the audio is grounded in documentary reality, while the images are blatantly constructed), interactive installations and performances that blend live and mediated elements.  Prerequisites: Permission of instructor (showing competence in one or more time-based medium) OR one of the following: DS 202A/B (Radio Storytelling), DS 251C or D (Intro to Audio Documentary or Documentary Film Production), AR 351J (Advanced Digital Media), MU353 (Music Technology II). 


DS 302C From Story to Screen: Film Crew Production
Nicole Coady and Vickie Riley
Tu, 4-6; F, 12:20-1:40

Crew based production.  Take a film project from story to script to screen as you develop production skills, work across areas of study for an interdisciplinary experience, and create a films of the caliber to build a professional portfolio. Over a semester, you will collaborate in a small (3-5 person) crew to create a 5 -10 minute film based in research. The film  might be a narrative film based on a true story, a story that requires research, or a documentary film.  You will be involved in pre-production, production and post-production in one of three areas: script/direction, cinematography or sound/soundtrack. While writers prepare scripts, production crew will learn more advanced audio and video techniques.  The crews will work together on production and post-production.  Each student will contribute research relevant to their area of specialization (i.e. learning about historical or subject area, creating an appropriate lighting or sound effect, selecting from styles in existing media), present their findings in class, and participate in crew-based video production. Critical film analysis from the perspective of your role on the crew will hone your skills in and appreciation for the craft of filmmaking.

Section 1 : Writer Director   --  DS 251B: Storytelling for the Screen I or permission of instructor
Section 2: Cinematographer -- DS 251D Doc Production, AR 229 Beginning Photography, or permission of instructor with portfolio of work.
Section 3: Sound Designers --  DS 251C intro to Audio documentary, MU 357, or MU 255, or permission of instructor with examples of original work (audio documentary, original score etc).

PORTFOLIOS: Submit links to online portfolio (photography, video, or sound)  or upload examples of work (10-15 photos, and/or 3 short videos, or up to 3 short clips) to or dropbox, email link to to with DS-302C portfolio in subject line.

EN105: T/F Experience in Documentary Writing
Cecilia Aldarondo
Tu/Th, 12:40-2 and W 6:30-9:30

John Grierson famously described documentary film as “the creative treatment of actuality. ” So what does it mean to get creative with the truth? This course will tackle the trickiness of documentary truth as an opportunity for inquiry and experimentation. This “creative ” act of shaping the world in which we live will stoke our writing about a wide range of documentaries that you will screen each week. We will explore  various ways to write about and in documentary from multiple critical and creative angles, including film reviews, scholarly research, voice-over scripts, and film proposals.

EN 364:
Cecilia Aldarondo
Tu, 5:30-9:30

Living with AIDS in this country [...] is like living through a war which is happening only for those people who happen to be in the trenches. Every time a shell explodes, you look around and you discover that you ’ve lost more of your friends, but nobody else notices. It isn't happening to them. They ’re walking  the streets as though we weren’t living through some sort of nightmare. And only you can hear the screams of the people who are dying and their cries for help. No one else seems to be noticing.’ —Vito Russo, “Why We Fight, ” speech delivered at ACT UP demonstration,Albany, NY, May 9, 1988

At the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, thousands of people were dying in the US every day. It was, in the words of Larry Kramer, a ‘Plague ’ of epic proportions, with an entire generation obliterated before it could reach maturity. For many AIDS survivors, the 80s and 90s were a special kind of hell, with funerals of friends and lovers every week; and yet, the AIDS crisis also spawned a remarkable amount of  creative and activist image-making aimed at fighting, mourning, and grappling with AIDS.

 Now, a generation after the peak crisis years, recent films such as Dallas Buyers Club, The Normal Heart, and How to Survive a Plague have served as visible reminders of AIDS and its effects; however, these films have also contributed to a growing cultural misperception of AIDS as a thing of the past. This course will examine the AIDS crisis “then and now” through the lens of film and video. Together, we will ask difficult and probing questions about this phenomenon called the “AIDS epidemic ”at a pivotal moment in its history, when AIDS is on the brink of becoming a thing of the past. How did artists and activists use film and video to fight AIDS? With a generation’s worth of hindsight, how is AIDS currently being historicized? Who is being left out of these histories? Why do we persist in thinking of AIDS as a ‘gay disease’? Is AIDS really over? Who is responsible for AIDS now? Screenings will span across activist film and video, experimental film, Hollywood dramas, and documentary.


AN-251D 001 Visual Anthropology 3:40-5:30, Tu/Th
An exploration of the theories and methods anthropologist use to create and present ethnographic images. Using photography and videos, students learn the principles for thinking visually and creating images to present ethnographic data.  Topics include ethics of images, cameras in social science research, organizing images, and analyzing images.  Students design small visual projects to gain experience in formulating research questions, visual ethnography, and analyzing and presenting results. Pre-requisites :AN-101 or AN-102

AR-229 Beginning Photography  Tu/Th 8:45 -11:45 am or T/Th 2:00-5:00 pm
An exploration of the varied aesthetic and mechanical aspects of contemporary photographic process. Emphasis is placed on using the camera as a tool to increase one’s visual sensitivity and personal awareness. Lab work is digital using Adobe Photoshop. Each student must own a camera: 35mm or digital.
Lab/ Credit Fee: $80 (does not include film or paper)

AH-375C Framing Photography Tu/Th 3:40-5:30
Explores practices and issues in the history of photography in Europe and the United States between the nineteenth century and the present, focusing on works in the exhibition “Borrowed Light: Selections from the Jack Shear Collection.” Students will study debates about the aesthetic value and social roles of photography; its use as a vehicle for self-definition, activism, and domination; and controversies in the history of photography exhibitions. Students will learn how the works in “Borrowed Light” were acquired by a private collector; talk with museum staff about exhibition design; and collaborate to re-curate a section of the exhibition. Designated a Documentary Studies course. This course counts for MF minor. Counts for seminar (AH375) requirement in AH major. For AH majors who have already taken AH375, counts for “exploration.” Open to junior and senior majors or minors in art history or studio art; others welcome by permission of the instructor.