Module Title:Documentary Making
Language of Instruction:English
Credits: 10
NFQ Level:7
Module Delivered In 2 programme(s)
Teaching & Learning Strategies: There will be a combination of lectures, tutorials, screenings, practical workshops, production exercises and group discussion/critique.
Module Aim: This module aims to give students a critical understanding of documentary making and provide a practical application of the fundamental methods, tools and conventions of this genre.
Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this module the learner should be able to:
LO1 Demonstrate the principal skills of a producer through sound editorial judgement, team leadership, problem solving, and an in-depth understanding of story and character progression.
LO2 Apply director skills through identifying and applying visual and aural evidence effectively.
LO3 Generate an edit that reveals new emotional or narrative information or meaning not told through dialogue or V/O.
LO4 Create and mix a landscape of sound that seamlessly heightens the overall expression and meaning of the story.
LO5 Demonstrate the ability to apply critiques of their work from an editorial and technical point of view.
Pre-requisite learning
Module Recommendations

This is prior learning (or a practical skill) that is recommended before enrolment in this module.

No recommendations listed
Incompatible Modules
These are modules which have learning outcomes that are too similar to the learning outcomes of this module.
No incompatible modules listed
Co-requisite Modules
No Co-requisite modules listed
This is prior learning (or a practical skill) that is mandatory before enrolment in this module is allowed.
No requirements listed

Module Content & Assessment

Indicative Content


Understanding story

1. Documentary genres

2. Story basics recap: contributor goal (internal and external), action, stakes, conflict and satisfying resolution

3. Character research

4. Pre-interviews

5. Briefs

6. Critically evaluating your story idea

Story Structure

8. Narrative Spine

9. Finding and casting compelling contributors appropriate to story, brief and genre

10. Documentary arc

11. Collapsing and expanding time

12. Creative Approaches – case studies

13. Putting Together your Documentary Crew

14. Equipment


Preparing to Direct

Preparing to Direct

1. Writing a documentary script

2. Visual evidence

3. Verisimilitude in documentary

4. Ethical judgements

5. Recording human behaviour

Directing the Production

6. Understanding visual ‘artefacts’ to reveal story, add mood and symbolism

7. Visual language and storytelling without sound or words

8. Camera placement and movement to enhance mood and story

9. Lighting to complement location, enhance mood, story and internal and external struggle

10. Working on location

11. Building an invisible wall

12. Common documentary problems

13. When to stick to the script and when not to

14. Directing people who are not actors

15. Professionalism and ethics during a shoot

16. The documentary interview and set-up

17. Story beats


Preparing for post

1. Protect your original footage

2. Logging

3. Narration, graphics, animation

4. Doing a Paper Edit

5. Edit Prep

6. Music

Editing the Documentary

7. Transcript editing

8. Using an editor

9. Editing the script

10. Openings

11. Middles

12. Ends

13. Pre-title sequences

14. Pace & rhythm that enhance emotional content & audience involvement

15. Arrange structure to support & propel narrative

16. Create meaning through the juxtaposition of shots

17. Mixing a landscape of sound that heightens the overall story expression

18. Utilising sound elements to describe the images

19. Utilising sounds that orient the viewer to time and place

20. Knowing when to cut or boost sound to describe emotion

21. Employing music appropriate to the mood, theme and character

22. Mixing sounds to create an effective balance between dialogue, music, & effects

23. Seven sins of editing

24. First cut to the final cut

25. Working with feedback from the Ex Producer and Commissioning Editor

Assessment Breakdown%
No Continuous Assessment
Assessment Type Assessment Description Outcome addressed % of total Assessment Date
Project Pre-production for 30 min documentary project. Students will be graded on their pitch and supporting documents (pre-interview scripts, briefs, story arc, documentary script etc.) which must reflect the term’s core teaching on the elements of story. 1,2,5 50.00 Week 13
Project Production and Post-production for 30 min documentary project. Students will be graded on their practical application of story as studied in class. 2,3,4,5 50.00 Week 29
No Practical
No End of Module Formal Examination

ITCarlow reserves the right to alter the nature and timings of assessment


Module Workload

Workload: Full Time
Workload Type Frequency Average Weekly Learner Workload
Lecture Every Week 1.00
Tutorial Every Week 2.00
Estimated Learner Hours Every Week 3.00
Total Hours 6.00

Module Delivered In

Programme Code Programme Semester Delivery
CW_EETVM_D Bachelor of Science in TV and Media Production 5 Mandatory
CW_EETVM_B Bachelor of Science(Honours) in TV and Media Production 5 Mandatory
Discussion Note: Hi Donnacha, I noticed when I download the template as a PDF the sections sometimes split leaving a blank page in between, however, when it remains on-line in Akari it's grand. I've tried to fix it but have been unable to. In other modules descriptors this doesn't occur seemingly because I've entered less information. Maybe there's an easy solution or maybe I just need to reduce content or perhaps when you print directly from Akari (if this is possible) it will behave. Thanks for reviewing this, Trina.