The class will generally convene Mondays and Wednesdays 0900-1130a in room 109 of the Doucette Building of the Edinboro Campus.

The following should be interpreted as a general timetable governing the subjects to be covered in this course. Class discussion, pace – even fluctuations of student attendance and enrollment – often dictate additions, deviations, and omissions. You are advised to frequently consult the most recent version of this schedule; assignments, lecture topics, and links to resources, will be detailed and added throughout the term.  Assignments and their due dates are further specified in D2L.

M Aug 22Preview of Major Assignments: Promotional, Commercial, Documentary
Living Backwards: FilmFreeway.
W Aug 24Discuss & Demo: Post-Production Nomenclature & Nested Sequences
M Aug 29Last day to ADD or DROP a course
M Aug 29Discuss & Demo: Stock Transitions & Mattes
Quiz: Nested Sequences
W Aug 31Discuss & Demo: Making Art... for clients
Su Sep 04Star Trek II: 40th Anniversary Screening
Tinseltown Theater, Erie (0400p)
M Sep 05Labor Day: No Class Meeting
W Sep 07Discuss & Demo: Editing in multiple aspect ratios
M Sep 12Analytical Screening: The Man with the Movie Camera.
W Sep 14
M Sep 19Discuss & Demo: Conforming to Broadcast and Project Standards
W Sep 21Promo Project: Presentation, Critique, & Troubleshooting
Su Sep 25Poltergeist
Tinseltown Theater, Erie
M Sep 26Promo Project: Presentation, Critique, & Troubleshooting
W Sep 28Individual Project: Promotion
F Sep 30Mid-Semester Break - No Class Meeting
M Oct 03Discuss & Demo: Planning the Documentary
W Oct 05Demo & Discuss: Other artforms as inspiration for the Documentary
Q&A: Students will bring to class samples of music and static art which they connect with their documentary subject.
M Oct 10Demo & Discuss: Lighting the Non-Fiction Film
W Oct 12Demo & Discuss: Lighting the Interview; Multi-cam Editing
Su Oct 16In The Heat of the Night
Tinseltown Theater, Erie
M Oct 17Demo & Discuss: Wireless Audio Recording
W Oct 19Demo & Discuss: Lighting & Audio practice
M Oct 24Studio Practice: Lighting, Camera, and Audio
Q&A: Interview Questions & Technique
Q&A: Social Media Templates
W Oct 26Workday: Shooting; Logging & Transcription
F Oct 28Last Day to Withdraw with a grade of "W"
M Oct 31Workday: Shooting; Logging & Transcription
W Nov 02Workday: Shooting; Logging & Transcription
M Nov 07Project: Footage Uploaded to Server
W Nov 09Project: Paper Edit. Highlight the relevant sections of your transcript. Copy and arrange the highlighted dialogue (with timecode) into a Paper Edit. Submit the Paper Edit as a .pdf to D2L.
Q&A: A-Roll Assembly
Su Nov 13To Kill a Mockingbird
1pm Tinseltown Theater, Erie
M Nov 14Q&A: Rough Cut (A, B, Stock, and Graphic Placeholders)
Participation: Assess the production phase of your documentary by uploading a completed Peer Evaluation form to D2L. Make sure you've assessed yourself.
W Nov 16Project: Visual Lock
M Nov 21Project: Color & Graphics
W Nov 23Thanksgiving Break - No Class Meeting
M Nov 28Project: Audio Mix.
W Nov 30Project: Completed Non-Fiction Film
F Dec 02Last Day of Classes
M Dec 05Final Exam (1000-1150a)
Group Project: On behalf of your group, your producer will submit a Distribution & Marketing Plan to D2L.
Individual Q&A: Headshot & Bio
Individual Project: Social Media Ad
Participation: Assess the post-production phase of your documentary by uploading a completed Peer Evaluation form to D2L. Make sure you've assessed yourself.
R Dec 08Final Exam: Public Screening (0800p). A film isn't a film until it's shared with an audience. Your presence is required.


The classroom setting is such that not all needs can be met within it.  I encourage you, therefore, to visit my office often.  It is my pleasure to discuss grades, attendance, notes, lectures, or anything else which will make you a better student.   Your grades can only benefit from regular communication with your professors.  I will gladly work with you to arrange meeting times convenient to us both. Feel free to contact me:

  • by e-mail at  Check these quick tips for emailing a professor.
  • by phone at 616.498.4336 (49.VIDEO).  Texting?  Remember to identify yourself by name and course.
  • in person.  I welcome your visit during these office hours.  Seriously, this is my favorite way to get stuff done.

I will respond to most messages within 12-24 business hours (weekends, holidays, breaks, and the hours between 5pm-9am don't count).


3 sem. hrs. Analytical viewings and collaborative, project-based learning highlight the moving image as a medium for creative non-fiction. Prerequisite: ART254.


1. Working in collaboration, students will produce a non-narrative short film for public screening.
2. Research and analysis will contexualize non-fiction filmmaking formally and historically among other art forms.
3. As a responsible contributor to a non-fiction film, each student will demonstrate competence in multiple areas of production and post-production
4. Students will generate material for graduate portfolios and demo reels.

1. Students will present a portfolio of research and artistic exemplars which supports choices of content and form in their non-narrative short film.
2. Students will submit a sequence of practical assignments, demonstrating their contributions to a non-narrative short film. Improving their work through a rhythm of drafting and revision, they will present context, rationale, and results, for professor and peer critique.
3. Students will articulate their understanding of the history and theory of the non-fiction film through objective examination.


Coursework will be weighted as indicated:

Projects 60%
Quizzes & Assignments20%

In life and in the classroom, I encourage you to work hardest on the things that count most.

Assignment grades will be based on the following scale:

77-79C+< 60F

Coursework in Digital Filmmaking frequently takes the form of practical performance and projects.   If you are not present in class when your name is called to undertake a task, your work will be considered late.  If your work is submitted incomplete or otherwise outside the assignment’s specified format parameters, it may be returned to you for correction.  Upon resubmission, it will be considered late work.

Late work can earn no more than a maximum of 60 points.  Work is considered late if submitted or time-stamped after deadlines posted in the syllabus (usually specified by date and time).  If, because of extreme and prolonged sickness, you miss a deadline and are able to substantiate a claim of incapacitation with a note from a reputable doctor or Student Health Services, the grades of your remaining assignments will be given greater weight to compensate. Otherwise, you will receive a zero for the assignment. Examinations must be taken when scheduled.

Because there are sometimes no “right” and “wrong” answers in this field of study, I am open to a certain amount of discussion with regard to the grade awarded any given assignment. Appeals should be made in a timely fashion, within two class periods of grade notification/posting.  Appeals should be offered with rhetorical and presentational clarity, preferably face-to-face or via video conference.

Appeals are more likely to be successful if students have solicited the professor's input on at least two intermediate versions of the project (see "Feedback & Revision").


Syllabus deadlines are the date and time an assignment is due in its final version. The nature of filmmaking is such, however, that the most successful students typically solicit professor feedback on intermediate versions of major projects. While this is not a requirement, you ignore the Academy’s proven “draft-and-revise” rhythm at significant peril to your grade.

Responding to students’ desire for the most immediate feedback on their project work, grades and comments are typically reported online, usually within seven days of submission. It is therefore the responsibility of students to regularly consult D2L, Edinboro’s classroom management software, for the most current report of their grades.


Quizzes may be given without warning to encourage attendance and competency throughout the term.

Participation will be evaluated throughout the semester by professor and peers based on student contribution to class community. Assigning the grade, I am chiefly concerned with the following questions:

  1. To what degree and in what ways does the student demonstrate respect for his/her audience and co-laborers?
  2. To what degree and in what ways does the student model dependability and responsibility?
  3. In what ways has the student participated in work load, idea generation, and leadership — apart from the work necessary to complete his/her individual assignments?
  4. Of what value are the student’s criticism and suggestions for improvement valued by his/her peers?

Substantiating paperwork (storyboards, lighting plots, scripts, talent releases) tends to be rewarded with higher grades if presented professionally. Written work submitted electronically should be formatted as .pdf files, with multiple pages combined in a .pdf binder. Completed student films should be submitted as specified in each assignment, usually as links to your Vimeo account or files via OneDrive.

Please be advised that uploading large video files is time consuming.  Internet service providers typically offer file uploads at 1/10 the speed of downloads (check your own ISP speeds here).  Make allowances to submit your work before posted deadlines.


Students are expected to attend each class meeting in its entirety, and will be penalized for late arrivals and early departures.  Class absences are excused for medical reasons, university activities approved by the appropriate vice president or designee, and/or for personal exigencies. University activities appropriate to be considered as an excused absence include but are not limited to: scheduled athletic events, cultural events, academic competitions, etc., in which the student is a participant. Other appropriate situations include: military duties, auto accidents, death in immediate family, medical emergencies. Verification of such absences may be required by the instructor, and the student is responsible for make-up work as required by the instructor.

Classes will not be held on holidays officially recognized by the university. All other days of the term are fair game for lectures, quizzes and assignments. Those students who plan to leave early for or return late from holiday breaks may not reschedule exams or other work.

You’re encouraged to use smart phones, tablets, and laptops in disciplined ways which accomplish the work of the course.  It’s considered rude, however, to engage in private communiqués (facebook, twitter, IMs, texts) during class.

The classroom is a protected space where together students and faculty rehearse ideas that are often not yet ready to be shared with the wider world.  Effective teachers adapt course content for a narrow audience of students, tailoring discussions on the fly to circumstances of the moment.  Exchanges are necessarily fraught with controversy, challenge, and misunderstanding.  Please safeguard the learning enterprise from surreptitious audio and video surveillance.  Do not film, record, or share, audio or video images of anyone without a signed personal release.  This legal warning applies explicitly to video conferences, class lectures, and studio activities.  To honor the ownership of intellectual property, lectures are not recorded; Keynote and PowerPoint presentations are not stored or distributed.  Major concepts will be repeated frequently, both verbally and visually, using the Harvard Outline Format for easy note-taking.

Silence your phones during class meetings and project work.  You’d hate to ruin an otherwise fabulous take on location with a Kanye West ringtone.


It is expected that all work submitted through this course is the student’s original work, generated for the express purpose of completing the requirements of this course. Students are to be aware that academic dishonesty is not tolerated in this course and should be familiar with the following definitions:

  • Cheating. Behaviors including, but not limited to, use of unauthorized notes or reference materials during examinations; copying answers from another student’s paper during an examination; the unauthorized possession of academic materials, including exams; the unauthorized exchange of course assessment materials, including exams; the unauthorized exchange of information or collaboration regarding tests, or other course assignments; aiding another to engage in cheating; and/or all other acts of academic dishonesty that any member of this academic community would reasonably understand to be a breach of this academic integrity statement will be considered cheating and an act of academic dishonesty.
  • Plagiarism. Plagiarism may be defined as the act of taking the ideas and/or expression of ideas of another person and representing them as one’s own. This includes, but is not limited to, using ideas or passages from a work without properly attributing the source, paraphrasing the work of another without giving proper credit, and/or the sale, purchase, or exchange of papers or research. It is the student’s responsibility to know what plagiarism is and to properly cite the work of others. If a student is in doubt, it is their responsibility to resolve any ambiguity prior to submitting the work. Plagiarism is nothing less than an act of theft, and, as such, is subject to University disciplinary action.
  • Copyright.  While plagiarism involves appropriating someone’s ideas without credit, copyright infringement is taking or altering someone’s original created work without paying.  Copyright enforcement is subject to a number of variables including the lifespan of the creator and his/her heirs as well as corporate ownership of works made for hire.  Fair warning:  burgeoning filmmakers often wrongly believe they must pay other creators for work used only if their film turns a profit.  Not true.

The standards of integrity and the penalties of dishonesty apply equally to

  • ideas, words, and speech
  • visual images, recordings, performances, and files
  • audio recordings, performances, and files
  • all electrochemical means of storage and communication
  • use of computing facilities and resources in violation of copyright laws

I will vigorously pursue prosecution of academic dishonesty to the very limit of sanctions allowed by the university, up to and including failure of the course and expulsion from the university.  I will work just as vigorously with students to prevent even unintended lapses of integrity.

Potential sanctions associated with academic dishonesty may be found in the University’s Student Code of Conduct and Judicial Procedures.

While student media producers retain copyright ownership of their respective work, enrollment in this course constitutes your permission to let the university, the department, the professor, their representatives, and successors, exhibit and distribute for promotional purposes those media projects submitted in fulfillment of course assignments.  Your enrollment further implies consent to be photographed in class or while working on class projects.  Without any effect on your grade, you may withhold or limit such permission by indicating your wish to do so in a note to your professor signed, witnessed, and dated, before the university’s last day to drop-add.


Equipment loan and campus facilities are available to students enrolled in face-to-face offerings of this course.

In case of a shift to remote learning, students are responsible for access to specified equipment.

In lieu of a required textbook, students should set aside $100 for production expenses and festival entry fees.


Pennsylvania Western University of Pennsylvania offers services to meet the accommodation needs of students with many types of disabilities. The Office for Students with Disabilities provides services to students based upon documentation of a disability and a request for accommodations based on this disability. Please refer to PennWest’s Reasonable Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Policy for additional information.

This policy is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Pennsylvania Western University and its faculty are committed to assuring a safe and productive educational environment for all students. In order to comply with the requirements of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the university’s commitment to offering supportive measures in accordance with the new regulations issued under Title IX, PennWest requires faculty members to
report incidents of sexual violence shared by students to the university's Title IX Coordinator, Amy Salsgiver []. The only exceptions to the faculty member's reporting obligation are when incidents of sexual violence are communicated by a student during a classroom discussion, in a writing assignment for a class, or as part of a university-approved research project. Faculty members are obligated to report sexual violence or any other abuse of a student who was, or is, a child (a person under 18 years of age) when the abuse allegedly occurred to the person designated in the university’ Protection and Supervision of Minors on Campus Policy.
Information regarding the reporting of sexual violence and the resources that are available to victims of sexual violence are available on the Office of Social Equity website. Report may be made to the
following individuals:

PennWest Title IX Coordinator: Amy Salsgiver,
Edinboro campus: Andrew Matt,