Academics: Majors and Programs

Students Filmmaking

Documentary Filmmaking Major

Spelman College's documentary filmmaking major was uniquely designed to address the needs of the 21st century student born into a digital world where moving images, storytelling and investigating social concerns have significant currency.

In the same way the College's Digital Moving Image Salon (DMIS), which was founded in 2003 by award-winning filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D., taught students to analyze films and use digital media tools to produce documentary films that focus on the lived experiences of women of color, the filmmaking program merges traditional documentary film strategies with emerging approaches to create new forms of storytelling; and it also explores new exhibition and distribution possibilities.

Valuable Real-World Training

Guided by distinguished faculty who are experts in the field, the program underscores the value of a liberal arts education because it supports work that is at the intersection of visual culture, humanities and new technologies and thus expands the definition of documentary film production.

With this major, you will:

  • Develop your artistic voice and produce films with a point-of-view
  • Develop a deeper understanding of visual language filmmaking as an art form and as rhetoric
  • Learn the technical aspects of production
  • Create a dynamic storytelling experience through creative writing for documentaries
  • Develop new strategies for production in the digital age
  • Learn the business of the art form, ethics, community engagement and portfolio development

Robust and Interdisciplinary Offerings

The documentary filmmaking major offers a robust production experience and includes film history, writing, and new forms of documentary production. It will prepare you for graduate school, professional industries and community engagement. You will have an opportunity to produce and direct your own film as part of your junior and senior thesis.

Additionally, the program will further connect itself to the local documentary film community through guest lectures, events, and an annual festival -- the culminating event for seniors in the film program.

Why This? Why Now?

While documentary filmmaking has exploded internationally over the last twenty years, it is rare that one sees women of African descent at the helm in this field. Through its documentary film program, Spelman will develop a new, and urgently needed, generation of Black women documentary filmmakers who see the world through their histories and interests.