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Minor in Documentary

Examine the world and tell compelling stories as a means for social change.

Delve into the history of documentary filmmaking, the ethics and issues of documenting actual instead of fictitious subjects, practical training in the mechanics of documentary film production, and film distribution. You will be exposed to the history of documentary and non-fiction film and the various forms it now comes in. You will learn from directors, cinematographers, editors, and producers of documentary films who will share their experiences on why they chose to tell the stories they did and how they went about it.

Minor in Documentary Curriculum

You must complete 18 units for the minor.

The following are the two required courses for a total of 8 units.

History of the Documentary Film

OART-UT 1701 | 4 Units | Instructor: Joseph Dorman

The course traces the documentary film from its origins to the present day.  As this still-young art evolved, documentarians of different schools constantly sought new means to tell the human story. Documentary filmmaking has always been a blend of artistry and technical means and we will also explore this critical relationship.  The course explores the development of the documentary and the shifting intentions of documentary filmmakers through the evolution of narrative approach and structure paying special attention to the documentary tradition’s relationship to journalism. Students examine how different filmmakers have gone about trying to convey “reality” on screen both through the use and avoidance of narration, through interviews, editing and dramatizations. Throughout the semester, students investigate how image-driven medium attempts to report stories and the ways an emotion-driven art can be problematic for journalistic objectivity.  Finally, the ethical and journalistic responsibilities the documentary filmmaker are discussed.

Check Albert for course schedule.

Master Class in Documentary: Director’s Series

OART-UT 1702 | 4 Units | Instructor: Aviva Slesin

This course, while not a production class, is designed to give students the opportunity to learn each stage of the documentary filmmaking process from the best working professionals in their field. Each week we will watch a documentary and meet someone who had a pivotal role in the making of that documentary. Our guests will include producers, directors, cinematographers, sound engineers, editors, writers, film composers and sound mixers. These professionals will share their experience and expertise with the class and answer questions about their work thereby providing a foundation of insight into the decisions, tools and skills that go into the making of good documentaries. Class discussions will explore the creative and technical decisions involved in the making the film.

 

Check Albert for course schedule.

Electives
Select courses from this list for a total of 8 units.

Creative Fundraising

OART-UT 1093 | 4 Units | Instructor: Check Albert

This course is about the struggle between commerce and art in the worlds of film, television, theatre, music and new technologies.  It provides students with a framework for understanding the dynamics and various routes to raising funds for artistic endeavors.  The students will learn about basic financial tools and structures as well as exploring traditional and non-traditional fundraising and financing techniques.  This course will allow students to develop a general understanding of fundraising and financing the entertainment world and refining the creative skills necessary to develop proposals that allow the student to one day realize her or his creative vision, build a career, and establish themselves as an entrepreneur.

Check Albert for course schedule.

Documentary Video Production in Havana

IFMTV-UT 1959 | 4 Units | Instructor: Check Albert

The following course is part of a Tisch study abroad program taking place in Havana, Cuba every spring semester.

This documentary video production course, offered in collaboration with Cuban National Institute of Film and Television (ICAIC), takes students through all the crucial steps from the development of ideas and research, through editing and postproduction. Students work in crews of four, learning the basic principles of computer operations, logging systems, and on- and off-line editing. Each student completes a final work for a rough-cut screening at the end of the semester. Students are encouraged to research and connect with aspects of Cuban culture and life that are not often seen in mainstream cinema. Although documentary production is the primary focus, screenings of Cuban narrative documentaries, workshops, master classes, and class discussions explore various aspects of documentary practice and Cuban cinema.

 

Check Albert for course schedule.

Entertainment and Media Industries

MKTG-UB 40 | 2 Units | Instructor: Check Albert

Prerequisite: MKTG-UB 1 or permission of instructor. Fall and Spring

Provides students with a framework for understanding key marketing issues facing organizations in the entertainment industry. Establishes a basis for the formulation of marketing tactics and strategies for firms competing for consumers' discretionary spending. Covers recent developments in major sectors of the entertainment industry, including movies, television and cable, and theatre and sports. Examines issues that cut across all types of entertainment marketing, including licensing and promotion. Uses case studies and projects.

Check Albert for course schedule.

Fundamentals of Filmmaking: A Digital Workshop

OART-UT 560 | 4 Units | Instructor: Check Albert

This practical workshop is designed to introduce students to the techniques and theory of developing and producing short film ideas that are shot on digital video and edited digitally on computer using Adobe Premiere Pro Software. The course centers on learning elements of visual storytelling through a spectrum of aesthetic approaches. Working in crews of four, students learn directing, shooting, and editing skills as they each direct three short videos (three to five minutes in length).  This course is specifically designed to fulfill the major requirements in production of students not majoring in film and therefore, students who need to fulfill this requirement are given registration priority. For this course, the University Bursar assesses a lab fee.

Check Albert for course schedule.

Introduction to Media Studies

MCC-UE 1 | 4 Units | Instructor: Check Albert

This course introduces students to the study of contemporary forms of mediated communication. The course surveys the main topics in the field and introduces students to a variety of analytical perspectives. Issues include the economics of media production; the impact of media on individual attitudes, values, and behaviors; the role of media professionals, and the impact of new media technologies.

Check Albert for course schedule.

Journalism, Ethics and First Amendment Law

JOUR-UA 502 | 4 Units |Instructor: Check Albert

SPRING SEMESTERS ONLY

Prerequisites: Foundations

This course is designed to acquaint students with the basic protections and restrictions of the law as they apply to the media, as well as the ethical problems and dilemmas journalists face. First Amendment rights and legal and ethical responsibilities and limitations will be examined and discussed. The course will look at these questions from five viewpoints: from (i) the practical view of a journalist doing his job with (ii) heavy consideration of ethical imperatives, and (iii) from a legal prospective, all the while (iv) considering the rules in a public policy context -- are they fair and appropriate in our society? -- while (v) noting the historical context in which they arise. Significant court cases and fundamental legal rules as well as past ethical scandals and issues will be explored in the context of political and historical realities, and in terms of journalistic standards and practices; contemporary media law issues and ethical problems and guidelines will also be focused on. Among the basic First Amendment issues which will be examined are libel, invasion of privacy, prior restraints, newsgathering and newsgathering torts, and the reporter's privilege; some of the ethical issues to be explored include objectivity in reporting, bias and transparency, conflicts of interest, and fair dealings with subjects, sources and advertisers.

This course consists of one lecture per week and one recitation section. Students must register for both the lecture AND a specific recitation section and attend the lecture and that section each week.

Check Albert for course schedule.

Journalism and Society

JOUR-UA 503 |4 Units | Instructor: Check Albert

Prerequisites: None

This is a multi-topic course. Check Albert to see which topic is being offered in a given semester. Examples of topics under this course banner are below.

Minorities and the Media 
Why do we think that way? What do we mean by "women" and "men"? If you were a visiting anthropologist from Mars, how could you use our culture's media to understand our ideas about gender? Women & the Media is a collaborative seminar that examines the complex relationship (or different contradictory relationships) between those humans we call "women" and those forms of discourse we call "media." We will consider women both as subjects and objects, as artists and models, as creators of "media" in its many forms and as media's creations. What does our culture's "media" tell us about how we read gender? What, if anything, does our gender tell us about our readings of "media"? Student participation in this seminar is key: students are expected to attend all sessions, to complete all the reading (there's lots of reading!), to participate actively in discussion, and to lead one of the class sessions themselves. Leading a class means opening the day's conversation with a presentation, critiquing and elaborating on the assigned reading, bringing in additional relevant material, and suggesting questions or issues that seem particularly interesting or troublesome. The purpose of the course is to develop our critical and self-critical faculties as journalists, media critics, consumers of media, and women or men; to think clearly, challenge our pet assumptions, and have fun.

Women in the Media
A collaborative seminar designed to examine the complex relationship (or different, contradictory relationships) between those humans we call “women” and those forms of discourse we call “media.” We will consider women both as subjects and objects, as artists and models, as creators of “media” in its many forms and as media’s creations. What does our culture’s “media” tell us about its ideas of gender?      

What, if anything, does our gender tell us about our readings of “media?"

Check Albert for course schedule.

Media Audiences

MCC-UE 1016 | 4 Units | Instructor: Check Albert

This course is an examination of the great debate concerning the effects of mass media and mass communication on our society. Analysis and application of major perspectives and approaches used in formulating modern theories of mass communication.

Check Albert for course schedule.

New York Through the Documentary Lens

OART-UT 1707 | 4 Units | Instructor: Check Albert

This course is designed for students who are interested in an experiential and robust exploration of New York and its cultural legacy through documentary films. New York is a unique subject for such an exploration because of the creative momentum that unfolded here during the last half of the 20th century and beyond, and because so much of the city’s rich history has been commemorated and chronicled in award winning documentaries. Through weekly screenings, assigned readings, critical class discussions and fact-finding walking excursions, students will uncover the complexity and vibrancy of the city and explore the distinctive way documentaries reveal the evolution of the city into the cultural capital of the world.

 

Check Albert for course schedule.

Through the Documentary Lens: Civil Rights

OART-UT 1561 | 4 Units | Instructor: Aviva Slesin

This course is designed for students with an interest in exploring the Civil Rights Movement of 20th-century America through viewing and discussing documentaries.  While the struggle for civil rights began early in American history, the course mostly focuses on the black Civil Rights movement with an emphasis on the period from 1954 through 1966.  By focusing on this time period, which was reported and chronicled by the television/film media, the course covers different perspectives as well as provides insights about both the subject matter contained in the films and the techniques and skills of good documentary filmmaking.  Through weekly screenings of films, class discussions, and invited guest speakers, students learn about the evolution of the documentary genre as a means of better understanding history, and students gain knowledge about the historical/political/cultural milestones and the heroes of the movement.  

 

Check Albert for course schedule.

Through the Documentary Lens: Contemporary Art

OART-UT 1706 | 4 Units | Instructor: Aviva Slesin

This course explores contemporary fine artists and their work through documentary film. The course covers a variety of perspectives pertaining to both the art world and the techniques and skills of documentary filmmaking. Through weekly screenings of films, class discussions, a few invited guest filmmakers and several visits to museums/galleries, students will explore the evolution of the documentary genre as a means of better understanding art and a form of scholarship. The goal is to expose students to the work of contemporary artists and their creative process.

 

Check Albert for course schedule.

Through the Documentary Lens: Human Rights

OART-UT 1704 | 4 Units | Instructor: Aviva Slesin

This course is designed for students with an interest in exploring Human Rights through viewing and discussing documentaries. In this class we will view both new and classic documentaries about Civil Rights, Gay and Lesbian Rights, Prisoners’ Rights, Women’s Rights, Children’s Rights and Immigrants’ Rights. The course will cover different perspectives as well as provide insights into both the subject matter contained in the films and the techniques and skills of good documentary filmmaking.  Through research, weekly screenings of films, class discussions and invited guest filmmakers, students will learn about both the evolution of the documentary genre as a means of better understanding history, and gain knowledge about the historical/political/cultural milestones and the heroes of the Human Rights movement. Invited guests will offer personal perspectives and add depth and context to the films and subjects screened.

 

Check Albert for course schedule.

Practical Experience, 2 units

The capstone for the Minor in Documentary is a two-unit media internship (sponsored by the Undergraduate Film and Television department). For further information, please contact Internship Coordinator, Adam Underhill at au8@nyu.edu.    

Tisch Drama majors: Please contact Carl Fengler at carl.fengler@nyu.edu ​

Grades

All students declaring a Minor must receive a grade of C or above in order to have the course count towards a Tisch Minor.

Course Allocations

No more than one (1) class or a maximum of four (4) units can be used to substitute a Minor designated class. Students cannot substitute required classes for the Minors.

As of spring 2015, regarding double-counting of courses for Tisch students: students who have any combination of Tisch majors/minors will only be permitted to count one course towards both areas. Tisch minor courses can be double-counted between two Tisch minors.