Documentary Filmmaking for Social Change

Have you ever wished you could make a film that shines light on a social injustice? Would you like to provide to the public an in-depth understanding of a societal problem through documentary storytelling?

Now you can in our filmmaking course for social work and nursing professionals, Documentary Filmmaking for Social Change, taught by Professor Rafael Angulo.

For the first-time ever, the class will be taught 100% online through Zoom so this class is open to any and all! Class size is limited though, to provide the intimate, hands-on learning you would expect.

Join fellow social work and nursing professionals in learning the skills needed to create and market your documentary!

This course, designed for those with little to no filmmaking experience, meets monthly for nine months and will take you from concept to distribution, with each participant creating their own short documentary that will be showcased at a special Film Festival at the end of the course. 


Impact storytelling is an emerging tool that can be used to inform a wider audience about the most pressing societal issues of our time. The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work’s Media in Social Work elective course, founded by Clinical Professor Rafael Angulo, is the only course at an accredited school of social work that focuses on impact storytelling through documentary filmmaking.

These participant documentaries are intended to modify behavior and attitudes, and advocate for social justice issues.


Your Opportunity To Make an Impact

The market for short, nonfiction films made by independent filmmakers has grown significantly in recent years, and social workers, nurses and other helping professionals, with their specific knowledge and point of view, are in an excellent position to capture pictures of a ‘sick and tired world’ and transform the images for purposes of social action.

The digital tools of today, including video production tools, computer non-linear editing equipment and social media platforms, can now easily allow social workers or nurses to be a ‘witness’ to individual and group struggles by creating films that provide a deeper perspective to societal problems.

Information Session and How To Register

The first class will be on September 19, 2020 and a $1,250 class fee includes 36 CEUs for licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists and licensed professional clinical counselors attending through Zoom. It will include a $250 tax-deductible donation to support scholarships at the School with the remainder of the proceeds received supporting the purchase of documentary film kits for MSW students taking Professor Angulo’s course. Alumni will be required to use their own smartphone/video camera and build their documentary kit – audio, lighting, filmmaking case and tripod for under $300. During the editing process, it is expected that alumni purchase Adobe Premiere Creative Cloud (CC) or other type of editing software through a low-cost 3-month subscription fee for the months of April through June, 2021. 

Join us for an online information session to learn more

August 12, 2020 | 12 pm PT

August 26, 2020 | 4 pm PT


Please contact Amanda Decker, Senior Development Officer, Constituent Relations and Advancement Operations at Amanda.decker@usc.edu for any questions.


You will meet once every month to examine a wide array of short documentary forms and to discover your unique style. You will also receive additional assets, including worksheets, videos, and cheat sheets to help you as you become an emerging social impact filmmaker. Further, alumni will receive additional assets - worksheets, videos, and cheat sheets to help them become emerging social work-informed filmmakers. In between classes each month, the class - attendance is optional - will have a 1.5 hour video conference on Zoom to emotionally support each other, review cinematic work, process the challenges and successes of the creative act and ask the professor and each other questions about their documentary, provide resources and grow as a documentary filmmaking collective.  Each subsequent month is designed to push students outside of their comfort zone – get them into an environment they may not regularly find themselves in. Ultimately, alumni learning builds on what is already known – month by month – by integrating new information into existing knowledge (scaffolding) for an eventual showing at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Alumni Online Film Festival in late June 2021. As a result of meeting each month, student success in this class is predicated on the motto: “see, read, do, create.” – each month, you will see and evaluate short docs; read required chapters/articles; do expected assignments to develop your cinematic skills; and create an original doc.

Register

Documentary Filmmaking for Social Change

Course Structure

The course will be divided into two areas of inquiry:

  1. Preparation of participants to understand the basics of production and create their own 30-minute or less short content film. Cinematic skills taught include video technology, shooting digital video, camera techniques, lighting, audio, post-production skills including non-linear editing, sound editing, titling, voice-over narration and music.
  2. Media outreach strategies for developing online public communication campaigns to target audiences and examining the documentary’s impact factor for social change.

Course Schedule

  • Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 9:00am-1:00pm
  • Saturday, October 17, 2020 – 9:00 am- 1:00 pm
  • Saturday, November 21, 2020 - 9:00am-1:00pm
  • Saturday, December 12, 2020 - 9:00am-1:00pm
  • Saturday, January 16, 2021 - 9:00am-1:00pm
  • Saturday, February 20, 2021 - 9:00am-1:00pm
  • Saturday, March 27, 2021 - 9:00am-1:00pm
  • Saturday, April 24, 2021 - 9:00am-1:00pm
  • Saturday, May 22, 2021 - 9:00am-1:00pm
  • Saturday, June 26, 2021 - 9:00am-1:00pm

Presenters

Rafael Angulo, LCSW

Rafael Angulo joined USC in 2001 after 11 years of investigative work and clinical practice with child protective services. Specifically, he worked four years in emergency response/investigation, three years in street outreach services with runaway youth in Hollywood and surrounding areas, and four years providing transitional housing services in East Los Angeles to emancipated foster youth. His areas of micro practice also include medical social work and clinical work with predominantly Spanish-speaking clients.

Trained as a filmmaker, Angulo has produced and directed documentaries, public service announcements and corporate videos for nonprofit agencies. He also has utilized video technology to conduct oral histories, digital storytelling and ethnographic recordings. At the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, he serves as Clinical Professor and teaches an integrative seminar and the Media in Social Work: Documentary Filmmaking as a Praxis for Social Justice elective, the only course at an accredited school of social work that focuses on impact storytelling through documentary filmmaking. MSW students that have taken his class have produced over 100 short films over the past 15 years, many of which have been used by agencies such as Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to educate their clients. You can view his students’ films here. Read full bio here and access Rafael's faculty profile here.

CEU Learning Objectives:

  1. Provide knowledge of documentary filmmaking theory and practice including the multiple stages, levels, and systems involved in the process and develop an understanding of acting as a member of a video production team involved in planning, scheduling, and crewing with an emphasis on documentaries promoting positive social change.
  2. Introduce documentary filmmaking as an effective intervention to influence decision makers and change societal views to help create social change in efforts to ultimately improve the lives of those populations served by social workers and nurses (e.g., clients, victims, patients, etc.).
  3. Teach students to develop a solid social-impact campaign plan by helping them identify a clear set of goals for intended target audience, plan budget and write grants to maximize impact while minimizing costs, secure an advisory board and partnership, build a community outreach team, and create study guides.
  4. Prepare students to understand the basics of production, including video technology such as shooting digital video, camera techniques, lighting, and audio along with learning post production skills, including non-linear editing such as sound editing, titling, voice-over narration and music.

CEU Provider language: The University of Southern California (USC) Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, an accredited school of social work as defined in Business and Professions Code section 4991.2, meets the requirements set forth in section 4996.22(d)(1). The School is recognized by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as a continuing education provider pursuant to Section 1887.4.3

Toggle
FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


Q: Is filmmaking an effective social work intervention?
A: Research is very clear that story has the ability to create understanding, tolerance, empathy and respect of disenfranchised populations. Documentary filmmaking, aka, social impact entertainment (SIE) is all about storytelling that can both delight and entertain, enlighten, engage and inspire change for a better world. Social workers who embrace filmmaking have a new tool on their intervention belt. In the words of Rainn Wilson, “as the world becomes more fractured and perilous, it’s up to content creators to tell stories that move us forward as a species on our sacred planet.”


Q: I don’t have an artistic bone in my body and I don’t know ‘up from down’ regarding the buttons on a camera. Do you suggest I take this class?
A: This class is for the newbie! I will start with the most fundamental of cinematic theories, concepts and skills and slowly and gradually assist in developing your repertoire of skills. Further, your artistic and creative sense of self will blossom throughout the year by asking two key questions a documentary filmmaking must ask when embarking on a film: Where do I want to take my audience? How do I get there? This alone will develop your creativity!


Q: Will I be creating my own documentary or working with a group of other social workers on a particular subject matter?
A: You’ll will be working on your own documentary for the entire ten months from concept to distribution.


Q: Can I create a documentary alone?
A: Of course you can! I’ve created documentaries alone – I have been the producer, director, cinematographer and editor on various projects. However, I always prefer to work with a team/film crew. Each alumni in this class will develop their own lean team documentary filmmaking crew and develop the directorial leadership skills of collective storytelling, vision, team-building, scheduling and cinematic imagination.


Q: I am wondering if I can create a documentary at the agency I work at or with the population I serve? There are probably some ethical issues, right?
A: There may or may not be some ethical issues if you decide to create a documentary at either your agency or the population you serve. First, imagine the respect and awe your supervisor and co-workers will feel regarding your documentary about the agency. We film best what we know the best! Second, if there are no conflict of interests in which you have no competing interests or loyalties, you are fine.


Q: Does it really take an entire year to create a documentary?
A: For alumni who have no prior experience in directing and producing a documentary, one year appears to be a realistic time frame. Filmmaking for social change is not just about interviewing “talking heads” but also creating aesthetically beautiful shots, securing charismatic characters, telling a wonderful short story, developing an impact strategic plan, editing with remarkable precision and collaborating with partner agencies for distribution purposes.


Q: Does the USC School of Social Work provide the equipment?
A: Alumni will be required to use their own smartphone/video camera and build their documentary kit – audio, lighting, filmmaking case and tripod for under $300. During the editing process, it is expected that alumni purchase Adobe Premiere Creative Cloud (CC) or other type of editing software through a low-cost 3-month subscription fee for the months of April through June, 2021.


Q: If not, what will I have to purchase and how much will it cost?
A: A student can create a documentary using their Smartphone and with an additional purchase of tripod, lights, and audio mic can expect to spend about $300. Another student can purchase a consumer video camera (almost all functions are automatic) and along with tripod, lights and audio mic can spend about $800. Another student can purchase a prosumer video camera (still fairly basic in terms of functionality, but which exposes more features to the control of the user, who is assumed to be more capable of making decisions about operating the camera) and along with tripod, lights and audio mic can spend anywhere from $1500 - $2400. However, a good documentary is not based on the type or cost of the camera but rather on the story and how it is translated visually.


Q: What if I miss a class?
A: If you miss a class, you will receive the PowerPoint, handouts and assignments via email or mail. Classes will be recorded and a link will be sent out to those who miss class. CEUs will only be provided for the classes you are in attendance for.


Q: Are there assignments?
A: Yes, assignments, aka, deliverables will be expected to be completed every month. These deliverables develop and strengthen your filmmaking competencies each subsequent month.


Q: Is the class graded?
A: The class is not graded (officially) but I will provide honest feedback to each assignment so that you have a sense of your current development in filmmaking values, skills and competencies.


Q: From experience, what is the best way for me to succeed in this course?
A: As previously stated in the syllabus, each month is designed to push students outside of their comfort zone – get them into an environment they may not regularly find themselves in. Ultimately, alumni learning builds on what is already known – month by month – by integrating new information into existing knowledge (scaffolding). As a result of meeting each month, student success in this class is predicated on the motto: “see, read, do, create.” – each month, you will see and evaluate short docs; read required chapters/articles; do expected assignments to develop your cinematic skills; and create an original doc.


Q: Can I secure my CEU’s?
A: If you are a LCSW in the state of California, you can secure a total of 36 CEUs – 9 classes (4 CEU’s each), the total needed for licensure renewal. A: If you are a LCSW in the state of California, you can secure a total of 36 CEUs – 9 classes (4 CEU’s each), the total needed for licensure renewal. However, you still need to take an additional course 6 hours Law and Ethics course during each licensure renewal period that satisfies the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) Continuing Education requirement. You most complete a post-event evaluation and online test before a certificate will be issued. Links will be sent out at the completion of the program and a certificate will be emailed to you within 1-2 weeks following the submission of your post-event evaluation and test.