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Skidmore College
MDOCs title

Documentary Studies - Fall 2021 Courses


DS 251B - Intro to Documentary Studies (2 cr)

DS 351B - Explorations in Doc Photography (3 cr)

DS 251D - Documentary Film Editing (4 cr)

DS 351C - Doc at the End of the World (3 cr)

DS 351D - Doc Film Prod: Form/Content (4 cr)

AHDS 324 - The Artist Interview (3 cr)

NOTE:  All courses listed as DS count towards Skidmore College's Media and Film Studies Minor

Course Descriptions

DS 251B - Introduction to Documentary Studies
Angela Beallor
M, 4-5:50pm, (2 cr)

History and Practice. This course introduces students to the historical, theoretical, practical and ethical traditions of creative non-fiction storytelling. Through a variety of mediums -- photography, sound, performance, film, etc. -- we will study how makers and scholars have approached the representation of reality on a global level. We will: interrogate extractive and colonialist practices in documentary; think about the ever blurring line between fact and fiction; and consider personal, collaborative and collective methodologies of storytelling.

DS 251C - Explorations in Documentary Photography
Emily Vallee
Tu/Th, 2:10-3:30pm, (3 cr)

This course will introduce students to the practice of documentary photography. The history, theory and politics of non-fiction storytelling will be examined and discussed through readings, lectures, the work of past and present photographers and class field trips. Students will experiment with a variety of different documentary styles and begin to develop their own personal documentary practice. By the end of the semester, students will produce a coherent documentary body of work, considering both the use of imagery and text. In addition, students will also learn to question how the contemporary documentary photograph can often create alternative ways of seeing, recording and understanding events that shape the world in which we live.

DS 251D - Documentary Film Editing
Jesse O'Connell
M, 6:10-9pm; W, 6:10-7:10pm (4 cr)

In many ways, documentary stories aren’t so much written as discovered. Our world is already full of stories waiting to be told, but what makes a story worth telling, and how one should tell it, are two of the most crucial questions any documentarian must answer. From initial concept through to the final edit, this course will ask students to grapple with this process of documentary discovery, in order to develop a robust set of practices from which to tell the stories of the world around us. Major topics include: • How to develop, nurture and test a story idea: when to know it has ‘legs’ • The value of Loglines, Treatments and Pitches for conceptualizing story • Form and Methodology: is this story best told as a short? Podcast? Feature? Interactive project? Does it require archival research? Interviews? • How to ethically obtain access to a story • Finding the story in the footage—the importance of the editing room This course requires no pre-existing knowledge or experience of documentary practice or technical expertise, and will be of interest to anyone curious about telling documentary stories in a multitude of forms. Students will work with an archive of previously shot footage to craft a short documentary film, learning basic editing techniques with Adobe Premiere.

DS 351C - Documentary at the End of the World
Bhawin Suchak & Darian Henry
W, 6:10-9pm, (3 cr)

This semester long seminar will explore emergent and liminal spaces within the world of non-fiction storytelling. At a time when we are collectively being challenged to acknowledge and confront the crumbling white supremacist, capitalist, colonial infrastructures of documentary filmmaking, Documentary at the End of The World takes an interventionist approach that aims to provoke and incite a reimagination of the form. This unique seminar structure will be led by NeXt Doc Co-directors Bhawin Suchak and Darian Henry, and incorporates in-person presentations and conversations paired with virtual screenings and Q & A’s with dynamic emerging filmmakers from the NeXt Doc Collective whose praxis is deeply rooted in community-based storytelling.

DS 351D - Documentary Film Production: Form and Content
Sarah Friedland
Tu/Th, 9:10-11am, (4 cr)

An introduction to the tools, skills and practices used in documentary film production. Through the frameworks of documentary aesthetics and ethics, students will learn about style and craft in non-fiction film and apply this knowledge to their own documentary production work. Over the course of the semester, students will work in groups and individually to create multiple short documentary films in varying styles. All skill levels are welcome. Central to this course is the close observation and understanding of the world around us. Students will learn how to be respectful and acute observers in order to focus their lenses on the immediate and personal stories surrounding them.

AHDS 324 - The Artist Interview
Ian Berry
F, 12:20-3:00pm, (3 cr)

An exploration of the artist interview as a form of original art historical research.  Students will learn how oral histories can function in a museum collection archive. Working in teams, students will closely examine and research artworks in the Tang Museum collection, prepare questions for the artists, and create videotaped interviews. Students will learn different methodological approaches to the interview and consider such questions as: how does editing play a role in making meaning; who defines the meaning of an artwork; and is the artist always the best source about his or her own work? Corequisites: one art history course.

DS 399 - MDOCS Internship Credit
Please write to Director Sarah Friedland for more information
1-4 credits