Documentary Film Project

Documentaries due 4/21/10 at 1:30 p.m..

 You have worked on understanding discourse communities, completed a genre analysis, conducted empirical research and analyzed your findings in the Literature Review/Report. Now you will use this knowledge to produce your own argument in a documentary film intended for a specific audience.  This project may be done collaboratively in groups of no more than 3-4 students.  

Compose:   Using either Macintosh (I-Movie, Garage Band and Motion) or Windows (MovieMaker or PhotoStory) software, you will plan, write, film, and revise a documentary film that creates awareness and/or advocates for a change in thinking or behavior. Your film should attempt to persuade a specific audience and have a specific purpose. The length of film should be approximately 5-7 minutes long. 

Save I-Movie files as a .mov and MovieMaker files as .wmv. Ensure that the video and audio of the film are of good quality, and that the files will upload/play correctly on your E-portfolio.  

Design:  As you begin, read Chapter 9 “About Visual Modes of Communication,” pgs. 263-314, in the Compose, Design, Advocate textbook.  Next, consider the necessary technology needed for your film.   

The I-Movie Suite includes: 

I-Movie:  allows offers you templates to create your film from beginning to end.

Garage Band: allows you to create multi-audio tracks. You can add your own recorded narration to these tracks, import music, create original music, and use Garage Band’s copyright free sound effects.

Motion: offers you endless special effect possibilities with its copyright free effects or your original creations.

I-DVD:  allows you to format and burn your film to a DVD so it looks exactly like a professional film with templates for scene selection, language selection, handicap option selections, etc. 


PC Equivalents include:


Window Movie Maker:  part of the software found on Microsoft Windows.

PhotoStory: can be downloaded for free at

 Design Plan:  Your film should follow this structure: 

·        Title page with names, class, and title of film

·        Introduction – state and/or show background, history, or general status of the issue

·        Claim – state and/or show your side of the issue, what you want to persuade your audience to think or do

·        Support—state and/or show reasons to support your claim using appropriate evidence

·        Conclusion—bring the documentary to a close and give your viewers something more to consider

·        Fair Use Statement/Copyright/Credits


**Common-Sense Clause: 

·        Do not put yourself, or others, in any dangerous situations in the making of your film.

·        Do not show any illegal activity or potentially incriminate others in the making of your film.

·        Do not use video/images/language that is not suitable for an academic setting and discourse community. Remember that you film will be shown in class and could be shown in wider venues at the end of the semester.


Product Testing:  Workshops will be set up to learn various software abilities. Many of these will be during your hybrid day, so be sure to plan ahead. If you use your own video, make sure that your camera is compatible with applicable software. Upload your completed film to your E-portfolio.


Advocate: As college students you have both opportunity and responsibility to be heard, to educate your community and produce a valuable piece of work that can be used.   Producing a visual argument advocating for specific issues facing your generation is a wonderful way for you and your peers to positively contribute to your generation’s present and future condition. 

Key Elements Checklist:

ü       Ensure compatibility between hardware and software

ü       Test functionality of the film on your E-portfolio

ü       Make sure that it advocates and persuades


Assessment Rubric for Documentary Film Project  

















 50 pts.


Establishes a purpose early on and maintains a clear focus throughout.


Establishes a purpose early on and maintains focus for most of the presenta-tion.





There are a few lapses in focus, but the purpose is fairly clear.


It is difficult to figure out the purpose of the presenta-tion.


Document-ary has no evident purpose and/or focus.










40 pts.


Strong awareness of audience in the design. It is obvious why the vocabulary, audio, and graphics were chosen to fit the target audience.



Some awareness of audience in the design. It is clear why the vocabulary, audio, and graphics were chosen to fit the target audience.





Some awareness of audience in the design. It is difficult to see why vocabulary, audio, and graphics were chosen to fit the target audience.


Limited awareness of the needs and interests of the target audience.


No awareness of audience.


Ethos: Is the document-ary credible?



30 pts.




Document-ary uses strong arguments and evidence to display credibility.


Most of the document-tary’s arguments and evidence is strong.






Document-ary’s arguments and evidence are uneven in quality, overall they are adequate.


One or more of the document-ary’s arguments and evidence is significantly weak.


Document-ary does not use any effective arguments or evidence.













Pathos: Documentary appeals to the reader's values and beliefs.



30 pts.

Document-ary uses effective strategies to appeal to the reader's values and beliefs.

Most of the document-ary’s appeals to the readers' values and beliefs are effective.

Document-ary’s appeals to the readers' values and beliefs are uneven, though overall they are adequate.

One or more of the document-ary’s appeals to the readers' values and beliefs are significant-ly inadequate.

Document-ary did not use any effective appeals to the readers' values and beliefs.

Logos: Is the piece well organized? Logical?

 30 pts.


Document-ary’s organiza-tion and logic are excellent.

Most of the document-ary’s organization and logic are excellent.

Document-ary’s organiza-tion and logic are uneven, though overall they are adequate.

Document-ary has at least one major problem with organiza-tion and/or logic.

Document-ary does not use effective organization and/or logic.




 20 pts. 

Document-ary is has exactly the right amount of detail throughout. It does not drag or speed by. 


Document-ary's timing is mostly good, though it seems to drag somewhat OR need slightly more detail in one or two sections.


Document-ary seems to need more revision. It is noticeably too long or too short in more than one section.

Document-ary needs extensive revision. It is too long or too short to be interesting.


Documentary has no regard for timing or revision.

*Rubrics are subject to minor changes. Students will be notified if changes occur.



For educational purposes only.


Owen M. Williamson - Education Bldg 211E - phone: (915) 747 7625 - fax: (915) 747 5655
The University of Texas at El Paso - 500 W. University Ave. - El Paso, TX 79968
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