Writing & Directing Documentary

We are seeking Writing/Directing Documentary students who are passionate about the form and recognize documentary as a vehicle for creative, original storytelling and a powerful tool for social change. The first year of intensive study in Writing/Directing Documentary focuses on researching and developing a compelling story, and mastering techniques of creating a proposal, directing, camera, editing and producing. This is a hands-on program and students test their ideas in the field, directing their own short exercises and crewing on those of classmates. Writing/Directing Documentary students enter the second “thesis” year with a detailed proposal that is production-ready. Over the final two semesters students shoot and edit their thesis documentaries while they also lend their talents in support of other thesis projects. We consider these films professional productions, as opposed to student films. Students create a full festival and distribution plan for their work. Thesis films are launched to the festival circuit at Cityvisions, our film festival held at The Director Guild of America Theater.

Here are some of the accomplishments of our recent graduates:

  • Alex Lora (2012): Alex’s, Odysseus Gambit, about a Cambodian-American man who hangs out in Union Square, was one of seven short documentaries in competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film was also one of four nominees for Spain’s Gaudi award. More via: http://www.alexlora.es/short-films/odysseus-gambit/
  • Samein Preister (2011): On the strength of 1st&4Ever, his documentary thesis about a life-changing year in which he lost his mother – a single parent who raised him -and the adoption of his daughter, Samein was awarded an artist residency at the Yaddo Community in 2011. The MacDowell Colony has also invited him for a residency in April of 2012. More via: http://filmmakermagazine.com/50558-samein-priester-1st-4ever/
  • Laura Cardona, Joslyn Duncan and Michael Lenic (2011) were part of an international team of students who contributed to the collective documentary project To be Human (Ser un Ser Humano), coordinated by The Cuban Film School (EICTV). They contributed footage shot in the Harlem community which was blended with student footage shot in New Zealand, The Dominican Republic, Haiti and Colombia. Joslyn and Laura traveled to Cuba for post-production. The film is showing in Spain at this year’s Bilbao Festival of Documentary & Short Film. The MFA at CCNY was the only American program invited to participate. More via: http://wwwhumanobeing.org
  • Chihiro Ameniya (2010): The 2011 Sundance Festival screened Chihiro’s thesis documentary, Grandpa’s Wet Dream, which chronicles the escapades of a 75 year old man in Tokyo who finds a second career in pornographic movies. The film also opened the Ann Arbor Film Festival. More via: http://chihiroamemiya.net/C/GWD.html
  • Jayan Cherian (2010)Shape of the Shapeless, Jayan’s thesis documentary on Rose Wood the transgender performance artist, was screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The film was also a Regional Finalist for The Student Academy Awards in 2011. More via: http://www.shapeoftheshapeless.com/
  • Maria Royo (2009): Maria’s 2009 thesis film, Rediscovering Pape, about her search to discover her grandfather’s past at a Nazi concentration camp officer, won the Student Emmy in the Documentary category and then went on to receive a Student Oscar. More via: www.furgonana.com
  • Octavio Warnock Graham (2006): Silences, Octavio’s autobiographical documentary about growing up biracial in Ohio won a record 3 Student Emmy awards and won the $5,000 “Best Documentary” award at The Angelus Awards in 2008. More via: http://www.silencesfilm.com/index.html
  • Elizabeth Harris (2006): In 2009, My Mother’s Garden, a documentary focusing on the family impact of hoarding syndrome, directed by Elizabeth premiered nationally on MSNBC. More via:  www.mymothersgardenmovie.com