Documentary and the Three-Act Structure (online)


In this class, students will view and learn to dissect narrative films for the elements of traditional three-act structure, the most common storytelling format in the industry, and then apply those lessons to their own work. By understanding how and why this structure creates memorable and tightly paced Hollywood films, students will be able to apply it to their own nonfiction work. In melding the sensibilities and conventions of documentaries with an easily identifiable narrative structure, students will not only identify ways to adapt their subject matter to the appetite of a story-hungry contemporary documentary audience but also learn how to deliver commercially viable documentary films for today’s selective environment. (4 hours/All Levels)

Please note: This course is offered in an online format and will not physically meet at CDS but will instead take place in a virtual session.

Joshua Dasal a director, producer, screenwriter, and marketing creative director, has taught at the Center for Documentary Studies since 2010. He has a master’s degree from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and has served in creative and consulting capacities for the Discovery Channel, PBS, Sony Screen Gems, and director Wes Craven. His films have screened at high-profile venues such as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Director’s Guild of America, and USC’s First Look Film Festival, and he has received the Mid-Atlantic Emmy and Silver Telly for his PBS short documentary film Cook Like a Chef; the HDFest Best Documentary for The Mars Underground; and Best Film, Writer, and Director awards for his 48 Hour Film Project narrative short, Cake, among other honors. Dasal has also served as a screenwriting instructor at Missouri State University. In addition to pursuing freelance film projects, he currently manages marketing and communications at North Carolina State University.

Additional information:
A late-model computer, fast internet connection, and built-in camera are recommended, though not required. Students with less than optimal hardware or internet connections are welcome to take the course, though it may be difficult to participate fully.

There will be a half-hour break.


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