DMED H2032 - Documentary Filmmaking

Short Title:Documentary Filmmaking
Full Title:Documentary Filmmaking
Module Code:DMED H2032
ECTS credits: 5
NFQ Level:6
Module Delivered in 2 programme(s)
Module Contributor:Ian Cudmore
Module Description:This module provides a blend of theory and practice in the study and production of documentary film. There is a focus on the use of camera, sound, post-production, storytelling, ethics, authorship and exhibition in both theory and practice. Students will have experience of completing a full documentary film project and the ability to reflect on the relationships between theory and practice.
Learning Outcomes:
On successful completion of this module the learner will be able to
  1. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the history of the documentary film.
  2. Critically analyse the work of leading documentary filmmakers, both past and present.
  3. Demonstrate a high level of creative and technical proficiency in both creative and technical aspects of documentary production.
  4. Identify and resolve any problems or issues that arise during production.
  5. Conceive, develop & pitch an idea for a short documentary film.
  6. Defend and evaluate the success of their own work, as well as identify areas for improvement.

Module Content & Assessment

Indicative Content
Early factual filmmaking
Focusing on the Lumiere Brothers, John Grierson, Robert Flaherty and the early documentary form.
Development of Factual Filmmaking
Discussing and reviewing the development of documentary styles, from the observational through to the essay. Including Soviet Cinema & Vertov in the 20's & 30's; British Free Cinema (Lindsay Anderson) in the 50's; US documentary-making in the 60's (D.A. Pennebaker, Maysels brothers etc.), as well as modern cinematic documentaries.
Documentary Pre-Production
Developing a pitch, narrative approach & visual technique, research skills for non-fiction programming, interview techniques; scripting for non fiction.
Production and Editing
Methods for 'run-and-gun' filming, filming on a budget or with skeleton crew. Audio capturing techniques, camera coverage, and story development. Technical editing skills from import through to presentation, as well as practical techniques for crafting and refining the story.
Presentation and Evaluation
Defending and presenting the final piece, as well as reflective writing on the process of production.
Indicative Assessment Breakdown%
Course Work Assessment %100.00%
Course Work Assessment %
Assessment Type Assessment Description Outcome addressed % of total Assessment Date
Project Semester-long documentary film project, covering all aspects of production, from pitching and development, through to production, editing and presentation. 1,3,4,5,6 70.00 n/a
Reflective Journal Visual diary or similar describing the process of the production, with reflective writing on successes and areas for improvement. 1,4,6 10.00 n/a
Lab work Including introductory exercises in idea generation, equipment use, interview techniques, and student presentations on some aspect of documentary production. 1,2,3 20.00 n/a
No Final Exam Assessment %
Indicative Reassessment Requirement
Coursework Only
This module is reassessed solely on the basis of re-submitted coursework. There is no repeat written examination.
Reassessment Description
Project based re-assessment.

ITB reserves the right to alter the nature and timings of assessment


Indicative Module Workload & Resources

Recommended Book Resources
  • Michael Rabiger 2014, Directing the Documentary, 6 Ed. [ISBN: 0415719305]
  • Megan Cunningham 2005, The Art of the Documentary, New Riders Berkeley, Calif. [ISBN: 0321316231]
  • Erik Barnouw 1993, Documentary, Oxford University Press New York [ISBN: 0195078985]
  • Genevieve Jolliffe, Andrew Zinnes, The Documentary Filmmakers Handbook, 2nd Edition, Continuum [ISBN: 1441183671]
Supplementary Book Resources
  • Harvey O'Brien 2004, The Real Ireland, The evolution of Ireland in documentary film, Manchester University Press Manchester [ISBN: 0719069076]
  • Sheila Curran Bernard 2004, Documentary storytelling for film and videomakers, Focal Press Burlington, MA [ISBN: 0240805399]
This module does not have any article/paper resources
Other Resources

Module Delivered in

Programme Code Programme Semester Delivery
BN_DDMED_8 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Creative Digital Media [240 ECTS credits] 4 Mandatory
BN_DDMED_7 Bachelor of Arts in Creative Digital Media [180 ECTS credits] 4 Mandatory