Course Title: Write documentary scripts

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2016

Course Code: COMM7322

Course Title: Write documentary scripts

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6125 - Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting

Course Contact : Program Administration

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4815

Course Contact Email:mctafe@rmit.edu.au


Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: Mr Brian McKenzie 
Email: brian.mckenzie@rmit.edu.au

Nominal Hours: 140

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

Required Prior Study

Delivery of this course at RMIT requires you to have completed all first year courses.

Course Description

This course involves stimulated and critical engagement with the form of communication known as documentary. It looks at the skills and knowledge required to write the documents and scripts and develop factual narrative - including documentary film or series. It identifies and analyses current types, genres and trends in non fiction documentary screenwriting in establishing a specific project.


National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

ASWDOC609A Write documentary scripts

Element:

1. Develop concept

Performance Criteria:

1.1 A strong, original concept is established for the proposed documentary
1.2 Appropriate market is determined
1.3 Necessary research is undertaken
1.4 Intellectual property and other relevant legal issues are clarified and resolved

Element:

2. Develop treatment

Performance Criteria:

2.1 A treatment which clearly conveys an original and engaging story is developed to industry standards
2.2 A synopsis which captures the story, the purpose and originality of the project and its potential market is developed
2.3 Major themes of the proposed documentary are clarified
2.4 Format is used innovatively and creatively
2.5 Potential markets are further clarified
2.6 Developmental stages for project are clearly detailed
2.7 Pitch is presented in accepted industry format and with appropriate use of industry terminology
2.8 Visual teasers or pitch tapes are developed where needed to enhance proposal

Element:

3. Seek funding

Performance Criteria:

3.1 A finance and marketing strategy is developed including contingencies and risk management plan
3.2 Creative partnerships are clearly identified
3.3 Appropriate investment opportunities are identified
3.4 Funding applications are written to agency requirements
3.5 Potential distributors are identified

Element:

4. Write a pre-shoot script

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Locations and viable shooting sequence are determined
4.2 Permissions are obtained
4.3 Visuals are delineated using appropriate terminology
4.4 Appropriate sound is determined
4.5 Draft narration is developed

Element:

5. Develop post-shoot materials

Performance Criteria:

5.1 Footage is filmed and story reworked
5.2 Interviews are edited to enhance story
5.3 Additional footage requirements are determined
5.4 Footage is edited to meet requirements of reworked story
5.5 Linking narration and sound elements are refined to enhance the story
5.6 Work is undertaken effectively with the creative team


Learning Outcomes


On successful completion of this course, you will be able to develop a factual narrative into the first draft of a documentary film or series.


Details of Learning Activities

This course involves a hands–on approach to documentary production. You are taken from concept development to a completed program, learning a range of craft and technical skills. You explore styles and approaches to documentary making, examine problems and ethical issues, and review the history of documentary work.

Examples of learning activities:
● class exercises – both written and practical
● practical demonstrations
● discussion regarding relevant web site and reading material
● film viewing and analysis
● group projects
● guest presentations
● research
● independent project based work
● workshopping of student projects including peer/lecturer feedback

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Teaching Schedule

Semester 1
WeekClass ContentAssessment
1Documentary techniques. Examples of contrasting styles. The Murakami exercise – apply style and approach to content 
2Present outcomes to first exercise. Smith street project - research methods for individual segments. Lumiere Bros and the first documentaries.Assessment task 1
3Synopsis and treatment writing for documentary. Pitching. Presentation by City of Yarra Arts officer re Smith St. project 
4Pitches re documentary segments. Cinema Verite documentaries.Assessment task 2
5Pitching cont. Dziga Vertov & early experimentationAssessment task 2
6Labour Day Holiday 
7Camera workshop 1. Demonstrate cine camera & project a documentary film. Islomania. Winter’s Harvest 
 Easter Break
25 March to 1 April inclusive
 
8Project consultation. Intro interview exercise & present examples. Errol Morris. 
9Interview exercise 
10Draft proposals presented. Night Mail 
11ANZAC Day Holiday 
12Draft props cont. Gimme Shelter. The Maysles Bros. 
13Camera workshop 2. Composition and Visual language. 
14Relations with subjects. Proposals due.Assessment task 3
15Project consultation. When we were Kings 
16Story strategies. The hook. To be and to Have 
Semester 2
1Edit program tutorial with Alex Joseski. Review filmed scenes. 
2Style and Content: Searching for Sugarman. Finding Vivian Maier.
Review filmed scenes cont.
 
3Present assembly edits of segments wks 3 – 6. Narration. Screen Jaguar.Assessment 4: Assembly edit
4Films without scripts. Last Train Home. Segment presentations cont.Assessment 4: work with editor in postproduction
5Finance and Marketing tutorial. Segment presentations cont.Assessment 4: work with editor in postproduction
6Segment presentations cont. Planning the compile. Editing consultation with segment makers. Alex Joseski.Assessment 4: work with editor in postproduction
7Developing atmosphere and music. Robinsons of Mantsinsaari. Tosca’s Kiss.Assessment 4: work with editor in postproduction
8Thesis and campaign documentaries. Michael Moore.Assessment 4: work with editor in postproduction
9First assembly of compilation reviewed. Music, narration, grading, finish format considered. Alex Joseski.Assessment 4: work with editor in postproduction
10Documentary meets drama 1. The Italian neo realists. Bicycle Thieves.Assessment 4: work with editor in postproduction
11Documentary meets drama 2. Dardenne Bros. The Kid with the Bike. Mike Broomfield. Ghosts. La PivellinaAssessment 4: work with editor in postproduction
Mid Semester Break  19 September to 30 September inclusive
12Review progress edit & plan fine cut. Future tense documentaries. Peter Watkins –The War Game, CullodenAssessment 4: work with editor in postproduction
13Sherman’s March, Audrey of the Alps. Motivation and the auteur.Assessment 4: final edit
14Fine cut presentation. Consultation re music & narration, grade and mix.Assessment 4: final edit
15Legal and Copyright. Finance and marketing questionnaire.Assessment 4: final edit
16AssessmentAssessment 4: final edit

 

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Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


References


Other Resources

Rabinger – Directing the Documentary. Bill Nichols – Introduction to Documentary. Robert Richardson – Literature and Film. These are publications suggested for reference. They are not prescribed.

You are advised to consult myRMIT for course information and updates.
Many of the films screened in class in excerpt format are available in the library and can be viewed in full. Screen Australia web site provides information regarding various aspects of documentary development and finance.

Digital cameras, tripods & radio mikes are available through the equipment store rear ground level building 94. Closes 4.30 pm. Tel: 99254355. Equipment can also be booked through AV loans Building 8 level 7 (above library). Tel 99258888


Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course is ongoing throughout the semester. Your knowledge and understanding of course content is assessed through participation in class exercises, oral presentations and through the application of learned skills and insights to your writing tasks, practical exercises and your documentary project.


Assessment Tasks

To demonstrate competency in this course you will need to complete all of the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive written feedback on all assessment (refer to your Blackboard site for assessment criteria). Once you have demonstrated competency, selected tasks, as indicated below, will be graded (refer to Blackboard for grading rubric).

Assessment Task 1: Style and approach. Write a short outline for a documentary based on Murakami’s interviews regarding the attack on the Tokyo underground. Present to class and field feedback. Due date: Week 2, Semester 1, 15 February

Assessment Task 2: Pitch a concept for a documentary segment – a portrait of someone connected to Smith street. Include a description of the subject, reference to underlying purpose and themes and indicate the stylistic approach you will take. This will entail a class presentation following by discussion, and written submission. Documentary segments are devised and filmed by teams of two. Subsequently they will combine in an anthology. Due Date: Weeks 4 & 5, Semester 1, 29 February and 6 March

Assessment Task 3: Submit a written proposal for a documentary segment which includes a treatment, brief synopsis, details of releases and other permissions, schedule and rundown of persons involved & relevant background notes. Due date: Week 14, Semester 1, 16 May

Assessment Task 4: This assessment will be undertaken in three stages in Semester 2: assembly of edited segments (due Week 3, 18 July); interaction with editor during postproduction (due Weeks 4 to 12, 25 July to 3 October); and final edit (due Weeks 13 to 16, 10 October to 31 October).

Once you have demonstrated competency, Assessment task 4 will be graded (refer to Blackboard for grading rubric).

Grades
HD Competent with High Distinction
CDI Competent with Distinction
CC Competent with Credit
CAG Competency Achieved - Graded
NYC Not Yet Competent
DNS Did Not Submit for Assessment

For further information on the assessment and grading criteria, please refer to the course blackboard site.


Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. These are available through the course contact in Program administration.

Other Information

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Please refer to the RMIT student page for extensive information about study support, assessment, extensions, appeals and a range of other matters: http://www1.rmit.edu.au/students

Cover Sheet for Submissions:
You must complete and sign a submission cover sheet for every piece of submitted work, including online submissions. http://www1.rmit.edu.au/browse;ID=x3ddsmsrwa1hz

Attendance:
Your learning experience will involve class-based teaching, discussion, demonstration and practical exercises
It is strongly advised that you attend all timetabled sessions. This will allow you to engage in the required learning activities, ensuring you the maximum opportunity to complete this course successfully.

Assessment Feedback:
You will receive spoken and written feedback on all your work. Where relevant, this feedback will also include suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects. http://www1.rmit.edu.au/browse;ID=qwxbqbg739rl1

Student Progress:
Monitoring academic progress is an important enabling and proactive strategy designed to assist you in achieving your learning potential. http://www1.rmit.edu.au/students/acadprogress

Adjustments to Assessment
If you are unable to complete any piece of assessment satisfactorily by the due date, you can choose to apply for an adjustment to your assessment. RMIT University offers a range of adjustments designed to support you in your studies, including an extension of time to complete the assessment. http://www1.rmit.edu.au/browse;ID=kehn9bz22r41

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism:
RMIT University has a strict policy on plagiarism and academic integrity. Please refer to the website for more information on this policy. http://www1.rmit.edu.au/students/academic-integrity

Credit Transfer and Recognition of Prior Learning

Credit transfer is the recognition of previously completed formal learning (an officially accredited qualification).

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an assessment process that allows you to demonstrate competence using the skills you have gained through experience in the workplace, voluntary work, informal or formal training or other life experiences.
Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) RCC applies only if you have previously successfully demonstrated competence in a unit of competency, and now require to be reassessed to ensure that the competence is being maintained.

Please speak to your teacher if you wish to discuss applying for Credit Transfer, RPL, or RCC for the unit(s) of competency addressed in this course. http://www1.rmit.edu.au/browse;ID=az8fl470ucg41

 

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Course Overview: Access Course Overview