This course will explore the documentary form as a way to investigate and communicate compelling stories about social, economic and political life in the US. Students will learn about the history of the documentary form through lectures, slide shows and screenings and they will complete their own documentary projects in class. The class will survey a range of projects that document the human condition by photographers, writers, and radio and film producers, including James Agee and Walker Evans’ WPA project Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Jim Goldberg’s Rich and Poor, David Isay’s The Sunshine Hotel, Milton Rogovin’ Lower West Side, Mary Ellen Mark’s Streetwise, as well as the current journalistic audio and slide show projects regularly featured in The New York Times. Students will learn how to research and scout interesting stories, how to conduct and record interviews, how to capture a narrative with the camera, and how to edit their work into a cohesive final project. Students will be encouraged to explore topics that are locally relevant, such as the effects of deindustrialization on the social and economic life of a community. Students are required to bring their own camera to class–all formats are acceptable from inexpensive disposable to a digital or analogue. Students are also encouraged to bring their own video camera or audio recorders if they have them in order to record interviews but audio recording equipment will be provided as needed.
The Class: Format: wsp project
Requirements/Evaluation: Evaluation will be based on the completion of documentary assignments and class presentation, with attention to content, effort, and development of the work. Active participation in class sessions will also count toward the final assessment.
Extra Info: In addition to the work conducted on their own, the class will meet together three times per week for two and a half hour sessions.
Enrollment Preferences: if overenrolled, instructor will conduct short interviews with interested students
Materials/Lab Fee: cost to student $25-60 for development of film and purchase of any additional materials