Crafting the Retrospective Documentary

Creating a documentary can be an intimidating process, as it often feels as though a filmmaker must be an expert on a subject in order to cohesively document it. This is not inherently true, as there are many successful films that document the filmmakers discoveries as the central story telling device. However, discovery is a risk approach as it is unpredictable and you can easily end up with a film that lack an interesting story or perspective.

This course approaches the documentary genre by focusing on the one subject we are all unquestionably experts on: ourselves. Documentaries made in this course do not need to be a biography, however, the filmmakers relationship to their chosen subject must be apparent throughout the film.

This is a film production course with a critical analysis component. Throughout the term all assignments will be directly related to a final video assignment, the creation of a retrospective documentary. Required viewings are key references within the genre.

Viewings include:
Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley
Sink or Swim, Su Friedrich
Shirkers, Sandi Tan
Readings include:
Persoplis, Marjane Satrapi
Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction, Margot Singer (Editor), Nicole Walker (Editor)
Full syllabus requests can be sent to

Featured image from Stories We Tell directed by Sarah Polley