UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2018

140-003 | CCN: 25121

Special Topics in Film: Documentary Film Now! Explorations in Contemporary Non-Fiction Film & Media

Jeffrey Skoller,

4 Units

T/Th 11:00am-12:30pm; T 5:00-8:00pm, Dwinelle 188

Today we are in a golden age of Documentary film! Never before has non-fiction cinema been more popular with audiences, more diverse in subject matter or more innovative in its forms and technologies. This course takes an in depth look at recent Documentary films that are transforming our ideas about what non-fiction film is and what it can show us. The class examines key film and new media works using a range of innovative forms and technologies, that challenge traditional lines between fact and fiction, journalism and propaganda, the poetic and the analytic. We will explore, interactive forms such as web-based, VR, and multi-platform documentary, as well as archival and found films, re-enactment, observational film, animated-documentary, documentary installation, as well as short and serial forms of Documentary. At the same time we will continue to ask many of the traditional questions of Documentary studies: How do these films shape notions of truth, reality and point of view? What are the ethics and politics of representation and who speaks for whom when we watch a documentary? What do documentaries make visible or conceal? What, if anything, constitutes objectivity? And just what is a document? Through weekly screenings, readings from recent Documentary theory and criticism, and the occasional visiting filmmaker, we will map the current terrain of cutting edge Documentary film and Media. Students will write a final paper or make a short non-fiction film.

This course will cover a variety of 16mm filmmaking techniques, including hand-painted film, cinematography, and digital transfer with an emphasis on the avant-garde. Through readings, hands-on workshops, and individual projects, students will learn about exposure, the photochemical process, various film stocks, and digital editing. This course is intended to provide an historical perspective of film technology before the invention of video, a foundational understanding of cinematography as it is still used in video today, and an introduction to motion picture film as a professional medium of choice for contemporary filmmakers. Students will shoot and edit traditional 16mm film as well as digital transfers of film to video. This is a studio-based film production course that will utilize a range of equipment including: 16mm film cameras, video cameras and software, and audio and lighting instruments. The work created in class will culminate in a final screening/performance of individual and group assignments.