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Documentary Film at Spelman

Documentary Filmmaking Major

Course Sequence | Documentary Filmmaking Minor

Spelman "Docsters" Make Movie Moves


Spelman College's documentary filmmaking major is 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.

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.

The major is an outgrowth of the Digital Moving Image Salon (DMIS), which was founded in 2003 by award-winning filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D. DMIS 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 merged 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

The new major is guided by distinguished faculty. The major underscores the value of a liberal arts education by supporting 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 and filmmaking as an art form and as a form of 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.

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.

Course Sequence

Foundational Courses (14 Credits)
AVC 122 Digital 2D Foundations (3)
AVC 124 Intro to Documentary Filmmaking (4)
AVC 125 Black Cinema: Contemporary Voices in Documentary (4)
AVC 242 The Art of Video Editing (3)

Practice (19 Credits)
AVC 205 Documentary Media Production I (4)
AVC 206 Documentary Media Production II (4)
AVC 335 Advanced Sight and Sound I (4)
AVC 336 Advanced Sight and Sound II (4)
AVC 410 Editing for Thesis Films (3)

Theory and Thinking (7 Credits)
AVC 285 Hollywood & History (4)
AVC 373Concepts, Writing and Development for Documentary Filmmaking (3)

Personal Practice and Career Building (8 Credits)
AVC 442 Internship (2)
AVC 493K Directed Studies (fall) (3)
AVC 493K Directed Studies (spring) (3)
AVC 104 Division of the Arts Freshman Seminar (0) (both semesters)
AVC 204 Division of the Arts Sophomore Seminar (0) (both semesters)

*Internships are a required part of the documentary filmmaking major.
**See the department for information on electives.