With an emphasis on service learning through community mentorship
15 Week Semester, Bi-Weekly class meetings (1:40 min.)
Scheduled at a time that works best for the afterschool program.
Professor: Bradley Rappa
Class Meeting: Monday 3:20 – 5:00 PM Park 140 until March 20th*
Wednesday 3:20 – 5:00 Park 269 until March 20th* *From March 20th as a group, we offer a Media Club Curriculum, hereafter referred to as The Media Club, to a prominent afterschool program in downtown Ithaca, NY. The afterschool program that we are working with serves a population of students in Ithaca that represent the wide diversity of our city. The afterschool program uses sliding scale tuition policies and attracts a large number of students from low-income households. In addition, this afterschool program has a rich history of advocacy and support for the African-American, refugee and immigrant communities, as well for the low-income residents of West Hill, Southside and Northside neighborhoods. Our service-learning documentary production-related activities engage the 3rd-5th grade students in this exciting afterschool program by encouraging self-expression, personal storytelling and empowerment.
Office Hours: Monday/Wednesday 1:00 - 2:30 PM or by special appointment
Contact: 360 Park Hall • firstname.lastname@example.org • (607) 274 -1839
Basic Course Information COURSE Description:
This research and production class explores a wide variety of styles and approaches to documentary film production, providing a knowledge base that students can draw on during the creation of a short 10-15 minute documentary film on a topic of their choice. Additionally, students in this course will act as documentary production mentors for 4th or 5th grade students who are attending our Media Club program. The Ithaca College students will collaborate with the afterschool students to research and produce a 3-5 minute documentary on a topic of the elementary school student’s choice. 4 credits.
Advanced Cinema Production: Non-Fiction is a course designed to open the gateway for students to explore their talents and interests in documentary production. This class offers valuable collaboration opportunities as you work with your peers and with a group of elementary school students who are also interested in telling stories of the influential people, places and ideas within their communities.
The students enrolled in this course will explore the profound potential and persuasive possibilities inherent in documentary filmmaking. To further the understanding and knowledge of this process, each student will be required to reflect on what they learn during the first half of the course, and teach this newly found information to a group of highly motivated elementary school students. This form of education, reflection, and mentoring is designed to have a long-lasting impact on everyone involved.
STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES:
In this intensive research and production experience, students learn the rudiments of creating a documentary. Aspects of preproduction (idea conception, research), production (camera work, interview), and postproduction (sound and picture editing) are introduced as students create two short documentary films. This course is organized as a lab/lecture course. Class sessions will feature lectures, film screenings and discussions. Labs and workshops will concentrate on hands-on technical instruction and critiques of student work. Students are encouraged to partner up with one another to form production teams (2-4 students). Each production team can choose to share research and production responsibilities equally or divide the primary research and production responsibilities.
Research students will simultaneously compile research and formulate ideas for their group documentary. They will also foster their research skills through managing production schedules, locating and confirming interviews, presenting their subjects and story ideas to their classmates and collaborating with production students. Research students will also coherently organize their subject material in a formal report (length at instructor’s discretion).
Production students are responsible for all the technical operations involved in documentary film production, including but not limited to scouting locations, reserving and preparing equipment, setting up and breaking down lights, camera and audio equipment and overseeing the post production and editing work flow.
On completion of this course, the students will have intensively engaged in the study and practice of non-fiction filmmaking and will possess a wide-ranging set of skills and aesthetic capabilities in the pre-production, production and post-production aspects of the documentary. Students will have a full knowledge of documentary construction, research, planning, and production techniques. Students will be able to examine the ethical, creative and collaborative relationship between filmmakers and subjects in a creative way. And finally, students will reflect on their own experiences in order to help teach elementary school students how to become more media literate by demystifying the process of documentary film production.
The final outcomes for each project will focus on critical literacy, creativity, collaboration skills, and time management skills through the production of thought provoking documentary films.
For the first half of the semester, Ithaca College students in the non-fiction class will work in teams of two to four to produce a 10-15 minute documentary film on a subject of their choice. For the second half of the semester, students will continue with the production and post-production of their own films while simultaneously teaming up with a group of two to four elementary school students to make a short 3-5 minute documentary. All the filmmakers involved will share in the variegated tasks of preproduction, production and post-production. Researchers will present their academic interests and potential/confirmed subjects whom they would like to document. The projects will be shot and edited on DV format and will be edited on Avid, Premiere or DaVinci editing systems. The documentaries will be heavily developed prior to production through both research and the production of a series of documents commencing with conceptual descriptions and following through with treatments, outlines, production notes, transcripts, editing scripts, sound designs, credits and fine cut.
Also, I think it is important to outline your own goals and objectives. With that in mind, remember: "If you don't ask, you don't get." REQUIRED TEXTBOOKS:
Directing the Documentary (6th Edition) by Michael Rabiger Focal University Press
Composition Journal & Production Notebook
3 SDHC Cards (32 GB, Class 10)
1-2 USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt External Hard Drives (1 terabyte or larger each)
TCAT Bus Pass (If you don’t have a car)
Option 1 - IC students can get a 15 ride pass from TCAT for $15.00 (you’ll need to buy at least 2 of these to get to the afterschool program and back again for the 6 weeks we will be meeting there.
Option 2 - Get a month of unlimited rides for $30.00 each month (you’ll need to purchase passes for March and April)
A third option is to get a semesters worth of unlimited rides for $110.00
MINIMAL COURSE REQUIREMENTS:
Complete all assigned material before the due date specified in the course schedule. Type all work written outside of class. Participate in discussions and activities. Be on time for class discussion and editing sessions. Turn in a completed final project with titles and sound. EVERYONE (production students and research students) will assist in the production of all visual assignments and papers, regardless of assigned role for production.
You should realize that this class requires a substantial commitment of your time and money. Documentary editing particularly is a laborious process, so be prepared to put in a lot of hours.
Attendance is expected and required for this class. If you are a crewmember and have agreed to assist on a shoot and find you must be absent, please let others in your crew know in advance so that they can find a replacement. Missed shoots are unprofessional and will not be tolerated.
It is your responsibility to keep in contact with me if you will miss class.
You may have two absences (excused or unexcused) before your grade begins to drop. All unexcused absences after 2 will drop your final grade by 20 point per absence (based on 1,000 possible points). Any additional absences after 5 could result in the student being removed from or failing the course. LATE ASSIGNMENTS:
For each assignment you will receive points for meeting due dates (screening raw footage, rough-cuts and final edits). NO CREDIT will be given for footage, or edits screened on a later class period unless you get permission from your instructor. If you will be absent on the day an assignment is due you must make arrangements to turn the assignment in early.
EVALUATION OF FINISHED PROJECTS:
Any film production can be evaluated on the basis of the categories described below. Each one of these constitutes an aspect of the evaluation of the final production. Also considered are the film’s purpose, and intent. For the specific key points for grading, see the explanation of each assignment.
AUDIO: This has to do with all the sound sources used, whether prerecorded or live, the quality and intelligibility of the human voice, balance, quality, appropriateness of music, and sound effects.
COMPOSITION: The way visual elements in a given shot are framed (tight or loose), the achieving of a focus of attention, the dynamics of lines, pictorial design.
LIGHTING: Includes the appropriateness of the lighting to the setting and staging. Does the lighting clarify the image? Does it look believable in terms of the sources motivating the light? Does it invoke the correct mood? Does it create three-dimensionality?
PACE: The tempo or speed at which elements occur in a production. It can involve the rate of editing, camera movement, speech, beat of music or sound effect, and is perceived as the overall speed of a production
RHYTHM: Rhythm involves both sight and sound and is perceived as measured or erratic. Visual rhythms occur in a relationship of time and space and involve subject movement, camera movement, and a sense of movement caused by transitions achieved in either ‘hot’ editing or post-production editing.
RESEARCH & CREATIVITY: Does it show your creative idea, uniqueness, and your personal voice?
GRADE BREAK DOWN:
Grading is based on a possible 1,000 points. Final Letter grade equivalent are:
970-1,000=A+, 930-960=A, 900-920=A-
870-890=B+, 830-860=B, 800-820=B-
770-790=C+, 730-760=C, 700-720=C-
600-690=D, under 600=F.
(5 and above round up to the next number)
“A” WORK meets the criteria of the specific assignment and is exceptionally well produced. This film achieves distinction in the categories listed above. This film is worthy of audience attention and interest and should be displayed at festivals or other external distribution avenues. It was screened on the due date. It meets the time criteria and is free of technical errors.
“B” WORK meets the criteria of the specific assignment. It displays competence in all of the areas above and distinction in several. Students were creative in their approach to the project. The project was screened on the due date.
“C” WORK is competent but average. Some portion of the film may be weak. It does not have the appeal of an “A” or “B” film. It may miss some of the criteria of the assignment. It may need a re-shoot or another edit. It does not have the audience appeal of an “A” or “B” program. There may be minor technical and/or aesthetic problems or may be predictable in approach.
“D” WORK is probably not worthy of an audience. It falls below acceptable standards in some areas. It may be an inappropriate length or otherwise disregards the criteria of the specific assignment. It may be cliché. The production may be so poor that the intended message is not clear.
ZERO: This project or assignment was never submitted or screened.
Final Ithaca College Project 10-15 minutes
350 (Production-oriented students)
200 (Research-oriented students)
Final BJM School Project 3-5 minutes
Natural Sound Piece
100 (Production-oriented students)
250 (Research-oriented students)
Presentation and Proposal
Group Member’s Evaluation
HINTS ON HOW TO SUCCEED IN THIS CLASS:
Be creative and research and research! If you are 300% sure about the subject and story you found through the research, then you can move to the actual production stage. Remember! 300%. Always allow a minimum of four hours shooting time between the time you open your camera and the time you quit. (Otherwise, you won't get much worth getting.) In filmmaking, everything takes 2.5 times as long as you think it will and costs 3 times what you think it will. In filmmaking, as in any other art form, there will be mistakes you make and problems beyond your control. Given this universal condition, you must back time from the due date and allow a "pad" at every stage to make the deadline. Leave yourself some time for "R&R" (recovery and reshoots). Not every shot turns out well. So, have at least one day for pick-ups. If you have two locations, generally you can only shoot one in the morning and one in the afternoon. One shot does not make a sequence. Don't forget to vary placement, angle, and scope. Are there exterior shots to establish location, time of day, season, mood, etc.? After you let the camera "settle down," allow the camera to roll a few beats at the head (and tail.)
Explanation of ASSIGNMENTS
1. Final Ithaca college Project (Max final length 15 minuteS / 350 POINTS (Production-oriented students) 200 POINTS (Research-oriented students))
Students in the class will work in teams of two to four in the creation of a 20-minute (maximum length) documentary. The filmmakers will share in the variegated tasks of preproduction, production and post-production. The projects will be shot and edited on DV format and will be edited on the Avid editing system. The documentaries will be heavily developed prior to production through both research and the production of a series of documents commencing with conceptual descriptions and including treatments as well as outlines.
After group research and discussion, select an idea and topic that you are personally interested in. Then, the groups will develop this idea to form a basic structure/outline for their documentary. Collaboration is a key point to make a successful documentary. Group members should meet several times a week to discuss development of ideas and structure. You will need to organize and structure your idea to communicate your own particular point of view on these subjects. In addition, groups will need to pay close attention to different styles of documentary and production approach and carefully choose their approach.
Major group members’ roll:
Researcher / Writer
Producer / Production Manager
“The Team Spirit” is the most important!!
Filmmaking is a collaborative art. Every crewmember is faced with decisions large and small that contribute many elements to a film. If they do not bring some measure of creativity to these decisions, the project will suffer. Nothing is more destructive than having people around who clearly want to be elsewhere, for whatever reason, be it immaturity, ignorance of their role, or other excuses for being unproductive.
Successful completion of this film requires:
A clear, well-articulated, well-designed documentary
Meaningful mise-en-scene and composition
The complexity and interest given to the creation and selection of images
The quality and selection of audio
The level of sophistication of editing
The level of involvement and attention given to the project (this includes notes, pre-production planning, conversations with your group members, number of hours spent in the editing room, as well as the intellectual and emotional development of your thinking with your project.)
Submission of a properly labeled 4:2:2 ProRez HQ digital file for the final screening (50 points)
The clarity and complexity of your edited film. Questions to ask and answer are:
Is the intention of the maker clear? Is the audience able to follow the story, set of images, argument that you are setting forth? How deeply and in which areas does this piece explore cinematic space including the space the sound creates? On which levels and how well does this piece deal with editing issues of space, rhythmic, graphic and temporal structure?
2. Afterschool Projects (Max final length 5 minuteS /150 points) BEGINNING March 20th 2017
About half way through the semester we will move downtown to meet for class at the afterschool Media Club. An Ithaca College production team (consisting of 2-3 students) will be teamed up with 3-5 Media Club students and as a collaborative group you will be responsible for producing a 3-5 minute short format documentary film. The IC students will act as instructors and mentors for the elementary school students and will be teaching the key components of idea and concept development, research, and technical production. Reflecting on, and using the skills that were introduced earlier in the semester, the IC students will guide the 3rd-5th grade students through the process of developing ideas, interviewing subjects, documenting events, and structuring a film after all the footage has been captured. This service learning component of the course emphasizes personal reflection and critical thinking and will encourage the Media Club students to explore their community as they learn to nurture curiosity, ask meaningful yet respectful questions and to explore how to compose shots and properly record sound as they use the camera and audio equipment. The IC students will also help the Media Club students to honestly critique their own work and make informed structural and editing decisions. The beginning 40 minutes of each class will be designed to allow the Ithaca College students to convene and reflect on the challenges and successes of each day’s experiences. Your grade on this project will be determined primarily by your focused participation with the elementary school students, your ability to guide the younger students as they learn the process of documentary filmmaking, and your participation in the reflection time at the beginning of each day.
3. Natural Sound Piece (3-4 Minutes / 100 Points)
This assignment will give students the opportunity to explore how to convey events or situations in a documentary format to the audience. For this assignment, each production team will shoot and edit a 3 to 4 minute "natural sound piece" that describes a place and/or a process (B-roll). This event or situation can be one that the group will include as supplementary footage in their final project, or just an interesting event that the group would like to cover (cultural, festival, political, or purely observational. Something in downtown Ithaca, etc.).
By using camera and audio techniques learned in class, student groups will focus on using natural sound to deliver/describe an event to their audience. Group members will meet to discuss the selection of event, intended message of event, techniques that they will use to convey their message. We will focus particularly on selection of shots (shot size, angle, etc.) and other cinematic techniques to fully employ the use of natural sound/live events to convey a message/information to the audience.
4. Interview (3-5 minutes / 100 points)
It could go without saying that interviewing is a major factor for a successful documentary. So, with this in mind, students will have a separate interview assignment to prepare them for effective interviewing for their final projects. Students will pick one interviewee, who can be part of their treatment for their final project or just an interesting individual to complete this assignment. Each group will produce a 3-5-minute long interview. Given the nature of unpredictable responses from interviewees, student groups will meet before the interview to draft questions and fully explore their reason/purpose for their interview (What is the goal of the interview? What do you want to say to the audience from this interview?) Students will also think about the different sections that this interviewee could possibly fit into for their own documentary, or for another documentary. In other words, make this interview have a clear motivation and a feeling of focus for a larger picture, regardless if it will be in your final documentary or not.
Technically, we will prepare for this assignment by considering and learning lighting setup and microphone techniques, effective shot size, camera angles and effective ways to question interviewees to produce desired natural sounding responses/direction of the interview. With your group, also discuss the techniques in class to figure out the most appropriate choices for the interview.
5. Research Paper (varied lengths / 100 POINTS (Production-oriented students) 250 POINTS (Research-oriented students))
Due to the nature of this class with both production-oriented and research-oriented students, there are slight variations for students by role as they are assigned in class.
The basic breakdown of the research paper:
1. EVERYONE must include the group’s treatment for their final project.
2. Students designated to focus on PRODUCTION aspects of the film will be required to write only a 3-5 PAGE (Minimum, single-spaced) FINAL RESPONSE PAPER. This paper will include the treatment, background information on subjects and issues selected/researched. Expand upon your opinions and reactions to interviews or views found while researching this particular subject, and elaborate how this experience influenced how you worked with the students at BJM Elementary School.
Students designated to focus on RESEARCH aspects of the film will be required to write a 5-8 PAGE (Minimum, single-spaced) CRITICAL CONCEPT PAPER. The varied length and content required of this paper is due to the fact that research students will not be as involved in the technical editing process that the production students will be focusing on. This critical concept paper will include the treatment for the film, background on subjects and issues and a CRITICAL perspective on both the issues and the subjects. This paper will have a MAIN FOCUS (ex: attitudes of interviewees, your perspective on the issues that you researched, etc.). Please expand to your fullest capabilities to present a clear, well thought out platform in your paper. You should have enough research to create a solid 1/3-1/2 of your paper. If you are familiar with political science/social science/literature response writing, you should use those skills to structure and guide you as you write this paper. It is pretty free as far as content, so feel free to take it wherever you want.
You also have the option of writing your research paper on how your own documentary research and production experience influenced how you approached the work you did with the afterschool students at Media Club. If you choose this topic I expect you to include research and your thoughts on the efficacy and benefits of service learning projects in academic enrichment programs.
You may meet with me to discuss any issues for this paper: length, content, etc. Do not hesitate!
****** REMEMBER! All papers are to be SINGLE SPACED and turned in ON TIME! ****** 6. PRESENTATION AND PROPOSAL (10-15 MINUTES / 100 POINTS)
Since the research and pre-production for documentary production is extremely important and essential, you have to present your pre-production process for your final project to the other students. This ten to fifteen-minute presentation has to cover the main ideas/topics for the films, budget plan, shooting schedule, locations, major interviewees, equipment, props, sound design and so on. Then, we will have a discussion and get some feedback from other students.
Successful completion of this presentation/proposal requires covering:
Film statement (major topic and story treatment)
What is the documentary about? What is the main story?
Explain why it would be interesting and important to a general audience. What’s your goal?
Constructive group and self-reflection are invaluable to collaborative working environments. For a small incentive to stimulate good group collaboration and self-motivation in order to create the best final project that your group can produce, the short term will end with two evaluations completed for a grade by all students in the group. There will be a GROUP EVALUATION (balance of roles, evaluate motivation and effort of group members, etc.) and a SELF-EVALUATION (how was the production on-site, major contribution of yourself, major weaknesses/strengths). Evaluation sheets will be provided in class.
8. Class Participation (observed daily / 50 points)
It is crucial as a filmmaker to learn the skills of constructive feedback and critical thinking. You will produce your documentary outside of class in order for class time to be devoted to the discussion of ideas. Classes reserved for discussion of other students’ work should be taken as seriously as you would take the evaluation of your own work. Each student will be graded on their contribution not only to feedback sessions but class discussion more generally.
the fine print
E-mail / Contact Information:
Ithaca College requires that all school-related information be sent through the Ithaca College Network only (IC3 & 4 e-mail accounts). It is your responsibility to activate this account, check it often and keep your contact information for the class current. Announcements, change in syllabi information, due dates etc. will be conveyed through e-mail, check yours often.
This class will fully enforce the strict standards and policies laid out in the college handbook concerning academic misconduct. Cheating of any kind or plagiarism (including uncited or unaccredited work) will certainly result in the failure of the assignment and will be reported to the Academic Dean. Misconduct of this sort may also result in the failure of the course and expulsion from the college. College policies and specifics regarding plagiarism can also be found online at: http://www.ithaca.edu/attorney/policies/vol7/Volume_7-70104.htm#7010401. Technologies such as the Internet and cell phones may make such misconduct seem easy or less harmful. Don’t be seduced by the dark side!
Students with Disabilities:
In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Students must register with the Office of Student Disability Services, located at 110 Towers Concourse (phone 274-1005), and provide appropriate documentation to the College before any academic adjustment will be provided.
Facilities & Safety:
Your life and well-being matter to us. Under no circumstances do the instructor and the Park School wish you to undertake hazardous activities in this class.
You must respond to and report conditions and actions that may jeopardize your safety, or that of other people and/or equipment. Report all safety issues to the responsible College employee. During class sessions that person would normally be your instructor. Outside of class the person might be the instructor, lab supervisor, co-curricular manager, equipment and facilities manager, or one of the engineering support staff.
Be aware that misuse of equipment or use of damaged equipment can create the risk of serious injury and expensive damage. You may be liable for damage or injury resulting from such use. Failure to be alert to safety problems, or to report them, can have serious consequences for you or others.
Careless behavior by students around the country has resulted in needless injuries and even fatalities. Plan ahead and identify safety risks before they result in accidents. Spot the possible dangers of each shooting location, and plan to avoid them. Always consider what might happen if you carry out an action. Common sense will tell you that electrical cables can be dangerous when wet, or that backing up while you're shooting requires a spotter to keep you from tripping or falling, or that driving a car requires your full attention. Alcohol and recreational drug use are associated with many accidents, and distractions caused by texting and cell phone use have led to some catastrophic outcomes. Always remain alert to the events happening around you. It may save your life!
Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance. The source of symptoms might be related to your course work; if so, please speak with me. However, problems with relationships, family worries, loss, or a personal struggle or crisis can also contribute to decreased academic performance. Ithaca College provides cost-free mental health services through the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to help you manage personal challenges that threaten your personal or academic well-being. In the event I suspect you need additional support, expect that I will express to you my concerns and the reasons for them. It is not my intent to know the details of what might be troubling you, but simply to let you know I am concerned and that help (e.g., CAPS, Health Center, Chaplains, etc.), if needed, is available.
Remember, getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do -- for yourself and for your loved ones.
Course Schedule (TOPICAL OUTLINE)
This schedule may be adjusted throughout the semester. Any changes will be updated and posted to the Sakai web site. On the right column, you can find the important due date and reading assignments, so please turn in assignments on time and read the textbook.
ACP: Nonfiction Spring 2017 Monday 3:20-5:00 PM in Park 140, Thursday Park 269*