Workshop on Documentary

(Sample Documentary Workshop organized for UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” Program)

Sample Syllabus


This course introduces students to the discipline of making documentaries. The course covers concept development and research, scriptwriting, visualization, and actual digital production. For this class, the projects to be made by the students will carry the theme of “Document and Memory,” where they will reflect on the significance and the power of documents to evoke memory, be it of a personal, social, gender, or historical nature. This is tied to the “Memory of the World” (MOW) Program and its campaign to create awareness of the importance of documents.


Film Screening
Introduction: The Documentary: Understanding the Genre and Its History
Discussion of Final Project: The MOW Awareness Activity
Documentary Methods: From Research to Production


Developing the Documentary Idea : Significance of Documents
Techniques in Documentary Scriptwriting
Writing Exercises: On-line Submission and Supervision of Assignments
Final Submission of Documentary Project Proposals/Scripts


Translating the Documentary Idea to Documentary Form
Shooting Exercises and Start of Final Projects
Directing the Documentary
Analysis of Exercises


Post-Production Phase: Editing Images and Sounds
Editing Exercises
Intro to Computer Generated Imaging (CGI) and Digital Effects
Post-Production Work for Final Projects

Summary: The Documentary Medium


Final Submission of Projects and Class Evaluation


Workshop attendance; film screenings and reaction papers; short digital production to include various script preparations; visualization exercises to include storyboards and camera plottings; director’s notes and a journal; and final digital documentary production.


Barnouw, Erik. (1993). Documentary: A History of the Non-fiction Genre. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bernard, Shiela Curan. (2007). Documentary Storytelling. New York: Focal Press.

Hampe, Barry. (1997). Making Documentary Films and Reality Videos. New York: Henry Holt & Co., Inc.

Kenny, Isabel Enriquez. (2005). Making Documentaries in the Philippines. Manila: Anvil.

Renov, Michael, Ed. (1993). Theorizing Documentary. New York: Routledge.