Special Topics / General Interest



Documentary and the Three-Act Structure Workshop (Onsite and Online)
At heart, documentarians are storytellers. Telling stories that people want to watch means engaging audiences in your narrative, which requires an understanding of their needs and desires and of the tools developed over time to answer those needs. This class is designed to provide those tools. 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. (5 hours/All Levels)

Please note: This is a hybrid on-site/online class. Distance students will participate via teleconference.

Josh Dasal has taught at CDS since 2010. He is an Emmy- and Silver Telly–winning director, producer, screenwriter, and video marketer. A master’s graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, he has created projects and/or consulted for Discovery Channel, PBS, Sony Screen Gems, and director Wes Craven. He has taught filmmaking courses at UNC-Chapel Hill and Missouri State University, and his films have screened at venues like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Director’s Guild of America, and USC’s First Look Film Festival. He is the owner and chief creative officer of Kaboonki Creative, a video production and marketing firm based in Raleigh.

Additional information:
To participate from off-site, 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 one-hour break for lunch.


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VI152SP18
Center for Documentary Studies
Room 201
Dasal 3/24 - 3/24 Sa 10:00 AM - 04:00 PM $145.00 View

Documenting the South: A Response to Place


There are unique challenges in representing the South. How do you avoid clichés and stereotypes to create an honest, authentic portrait? We will discuss photographers and filmmakers known for their work in the South, including William Christenberry, Sally Mann, Emmet Gowin, Keith Carter, Debbie Fleming Caffery, John McWilliams, Shelby Lee Adams, Rob Amberg, and William Eggleston. We will also explore various Southern subcultures and genres, for example, Southern Gothic and Delta blues.

We will then turn to our own work to analyze our response to the South. How does the landscape define us, and what is our emotional connection to it? How do we refine our personal viewpoint? What is the best way to present our ideas and projects? What is the purpose of our work? We will also discuss our own self-awareness about the place, and how we choose to represent its people. (12 hours/All Levels)

Jill Snyder is a documentary photographer who makes poetic, lyrical images with a touch of mystery and a sense of place. A four-time grant recipient, she has an MFA in photography and multimedia, and has made several documentary shorts. The Carnegie Museum of Art has purchased several of her photographs. Her recent project, A Man Singing to Himself, centers on her quest to find her roots in the Southern Appalachians. Along with her photographic work there, she’s done audio field collection of ballads and fiddle tunes passed down from generation to generation, and has documented various forms of dance specific to the region. She has lived among cultures not her own for several years, most recently in the Bedouin region of Oman. She has recently returned to the Triangle area after many years abroad. You can see her work at the Golden Belt Arts Studio building in Durham, and at jillsnyderphotography.com.

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ST234SP18
Center for Documentary Studies
CDS Library
Snyder 5/2 - 5/30 We 06:30 PM - 09:00 PM $230.00 View

Family: Reinterpreting the Personal Archive


The web of family has been a constant source of inspiration for artists and documentarians. Folklore, oral storytelling, and material objects are passed down from generation to generation. Language transforms as families migrate and relocate to urban, suburban, and rural settings. Much of the time, photo albums are tucked away in basements or drawers and remain untouched.

In this workshop, we'll look at examples of family documentary as new and seasoned family researchers embark on their own investigations. Informed by group discussion, students will use writing, photography, physical objects, and other media from their personal archive to create new interpretations. We will look at buried family history, disruptions in timelines, and geographies of movement, allowing for questions surrounding ethical practice, expanding notions of family, and the role of ancestral DNA. (8 hours/All Levels)

Kamal Badhey is an educator, photographer, and documentarian based in New York City. She is a member of the South Asian Women's Creative Collective and the Urban Photographers Association. She has a Masters in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a Masters in Museum Education from Bank Street College. Her work has been exhibited in New York, London, Lisbon, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. Portals and Passageways, her project about her family's South Asian diaspora, traces her jeweler ancestors from a bazaar in India. She was a 2016-2017 Lewis Hine fellow and currently teaches at the Bronx Documentary Center and Parsons School of Design.

Additional Information:
Please bring a sack lunch.

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ST235SP18
Center for Documentary Studies
CDS Library
Badhey 3/10 - 3/11 Sa Su 11:00 AM - 04:00 PM $180.00 View

Independent Study
This permission-only course is designed for students to work with a mentor on one specific project, in any medium, in four two-hour sessions (or a mutually agreed-upon equivalent) over the course of four months. Dates and times arranged by the student and mentor. (Intermediate-Advanced/8 hours)

Please contact cdscourses@duke.edu to request permission for an independent study.

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ST300SP18
Center for Documentary Studies
Virtual Classroom
TBD TBD TBD TBD $500.00 View

Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies


This intensive, weeklong class is designed for distance students who are pursuing the Certificate in Documentary Arts and fulfills their introductory course requirement, but it is also ideal for any student wishing to get a grasp of the basic history and principles of documentary work. This course will feature a variety of guest speakers, including photographers, filmmakers, writers, and audio producers. We emphasize not only methodologies but also philosophies and ethics of fieldwork in different settings. Students will explore examples of fieldwork and at the final meeting will present project proposals of their own. These proposals may be the beginning of long-term documentary initiatives or simply a means to help decide on the direction of a future project. (38 hours)

Michelle Lanier is acting director of North Carolina’s African American Heritage Commission and Curator of Multicultural Initiatives with North Carolina’s State Historic Sites. She has been an instructor at CDS since 2000. She uses her background as an oral historian and folklorist to connect communities around personal narratives and cultural expression. She has traveled to Panama and Ghana to document African Diaspora funerary traditions, and her ethnographic work in a South Carolina Gullah community led to her role as a liaison to the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. Growing up in a family that includes veterans of five American wars has inspired her current work, training students to collect veterans’ narratives.

Joy Salyers is a folklorist and a professional adviser on ethical and effective practice for individuals, organizations, and projects. She helps clients place an honest and compassionate assessment of themselves into the context of the systems within which they work. Salyers is also a writer, performer, and lecturer. She serves on advisory groups for several current documentary projects, and has taught in CDS’s Continuing Education program for more than a decade. See www.joysalyers.com.

Additional information:
The enrollment fee includes dinner the first night. Students are responsible for all other meals, housing, and transportation.

Section A
Taught by Michelle Lanier
Sunday, June 10: 5 p.m.–9 p.m.
Monday–Thursday, June 11–14: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Friday, June 15: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Section B
Taught by Joy Salyers
Sunday, August 5: 5 p.m.–9 p.m.
Monday–Thursday, August 6–9: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Friday, August 10: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

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ST515SU18A
Center for Documentary Studies
Room 201
Lanier 6/10 - 6/15 Mo Tu We Th Fr Su Varied $525.00 View
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ST515SU18B
Center for Documentary Studies
Room 201
Salyers 8/5 - 8/10 Mo Tu We Th Fr Su Varied $525.00 View

Interviewing for Story (Online)


Interviews form the basis of most documentary projects, providing the raw material for written pieces, audio stories, and documentary films. What creators are able to unearth during interviews often has a profound effect on what they're able to produce in the end; the more fruitful the dialogue, the richer the finished product. In this course, students will learn the interviewer's skills: How to prepare for an interview, build rapport with subjects, formulate questions that elicit interesting or thoughtful responses, and effectively structure their conversations. In addition, they will learn the more technical aspects of the craft: how to work with recording tools, transcribe and edit, and otherwise make use of the content they glean.

Listening to and reading edited interviews, as well as pieces that make use of them, students will examine various interviewing techniques and approaches. They will practice interviewing on their own and explore different ways of bringing the material they gather to life through written exercises. On the class blog and during regular videoconferencing sessions, they will engage with their classmates and instructor, discussing the practical, ethical, and compositional aspects of gathering and working with other people's stories. By the end, students will develop—and receive peer and instructor feedback on—a written profile or an audio, video, or captioned-photo project that incorporates the interviews they've conducted. They will walk away with the skills and understanding to interview with confidence—and the potential to tell deeper, more compelling stories. (12 hours/All Levels)

Please note: This course is offered in an online format and will not meet at CDS but will instead take place in regularly scheduled virtual sessions.

Christina Cooke is associate editor at the daily food-policy website Civil Eats and a Durham-based freelance writer. Her stories about people, place, and culture appear in venues including the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Oxford American, Our State, and High Country News. Previously, she worked two years as a staff writer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and another year as the only full-time reporter for a weekly paper in Portland, Oregon. Cooke finds herself drawn to tell stories at the fringes of society, about people who are offbeat and unconventional, passionate and obsessed, and masters of their own, very specialized domains. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Portland State University and is a graduate of the nonfiction writing program at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. Find out more at christinacooke.com.

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 no class on March 29.

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WR192SP18
Center for Documentary Studies
Virtual Classroom
Cooke 2/22 - 4/5 Th 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM $275.00 View

Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies: Ethics and Practice


This course is designed for students in the Certificate in Documentary Arts program or those who plan to enroll. The documentary arts—including photography, video, audio, and writing—encompass many genres and numerous means of interacting with the world and its people. Instruction will focus on methodologies as well as philosophies and ethics of fieldwork in different settings. Students will explore examples of documentary work and will present project ideas of their own in the final session. (20 hours/All Levels)

Joy Salyers
is a folklorist and a professional adviser on ethical and effective practice for individuals, organizations, and projects. She helps clients place an honest and compassionate assessment of themselves into the context of the systems within which they work. Salyers is also a writer, performer, and lecturer. She serves on advisory groups for several current documentary projects, and has taught in CDS’s Continuing Education program for more than a decade. See joysalyers.com.

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ST101PSP18
Center for Documentary Studies
CDS Library
Salyers 4/12 - 5/31 Th 06:15 PM - 08:45 PM $265.00 View

Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies: Traditions (Online)


This course is designed for students in the Certificate in Documentary Arts program or those who plan to enroll; it’s also suited to non-certificate students with a general interest in interdisciplinary traditions of documentary work, with an emphasis on twentieth-century practice. Students will be introduced to a range of documentary idioms and voices, including the work of photographers, filmmakers, oral historians, folklorists, musicologists, radio documentarians, and writers. (20 hours/All Levels)

Please note: This course is offered in an online format and will not meet at CDS but will instead take place in regularly scheduled virtual sessions.

Joy Salyers is a folklorist and a professional adviser on ethical and effective practice for individuals, organizations, and projects. She helps clients place an honest and compassionate assessment of themselves into the context of the systems within which they work. Salyers is also a writer, performer, and lecturer. She serves on advisory groups for several current documentary projects, and has taught in CDS’s Continuing Education program for more than a decade. See joysalyers.com.

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ST101ToSP18
Center for Documentary Studies
Virtual Classroom
Salyers 2/8 - 3/29 Th 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM $295.00 View

Writing the Documentary Script (Onsite and Online)
Your documentary films can be scripted! A well-written script can be key to structuring your film. Structure can make not only the difference between a bad film and a good film, but between a good film and a great one. To create a documentary that’s coherent in post-production, your pre-production needs to be equally coherent. One of the best ways to organize one’s research, explore new ideas, and more accurately plan for the unexpected is to write a documentary script. In this one-day workshop, students will learn the basics of writing the documentary script, including the conceptual and practical theory behind script construction, the role of story in documentary filmmaking, and proper A/V script formatting. We’ll learn the best ways to outline scenes and analyze existing A/V scripts for production and post-production needs. And we’ll use widely available script writing software which you will then use in practical exercises that demonstrate how to translate your written documentaries from script to screen. Added value may be gained by pairing this course with Documentary and Three-Act Structure. (5 hours/All Levels)

Please note: This is a hybrid onsite/online class. Distance students will participate via teleconference.

Joshua Dasal has taught at CDS since 2010. He is an Emmy- and Silver Telly–winning director, producer, screenwriter, and video marketer. A master’s graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, he has created projects and/or consulted for Discovery Channel, PBS, Sony Screen Gems, and director Wes Craven. He has taught filmmaking courses at UNC-Chapel Hill and Missouri State University, and his films have screened at venues like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Director’s Guild of America, and USC’s First Look Film Festival. He is the owner and chief creative officer of Kaboonki Creative, a video production and marketing firm based in Raleigh.

Additional information:
To participate from off-site, 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 one-hour break for lunch.

Add Section Location Ages Grades Instructor Dates Days Times Fees Details Open
Register Now!
VI146SP18
Center for Documentary Studies
Room 201
Dasal 3/10 - 3/10 Sa 10:00 AM - 04:00 PM $145.00 View