Information For...

Documentary Filmmaking for Social Change


Oct. 20, 2018, through May 18, 2019


University Park Campus
Montgomery Ross Fisher Building
669 West 34th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089

USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Alumni Association
Juan Macias

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 first-ever filmmaking course for social work and nursing professionals, Documentary Filmmaking for Social Change, taught by Clinical Professor Rafael Angulo.

This course, designed for those with little to no filmmaking experience, meets monthly for eight months and will take you from concept to execution, with each participant creating their own short documentary that will be showcased at a special film festival in late May 2019.

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 October 20 and a $995 class fee includes 24 CEUs for licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists and licensed professional clinical counselors attending in-person. All proceeds received from this course will support the purchase of documentary film kits for MSW students taking Professor Angulo’s course in spring 2019. Participants will be responsible for their own equipment. From the start of class in October, alumni will be purchasing and developing a small documentary filmmaking kit which includes a digital camera, microphone, headsets and tripod for use in video field production in January and February. Alumni are strongly encouraged to purchase the online Adobe Premiere Creative Cloud (CC) editing program for the last 2-3 months of the class.

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. Each subsequent month is designed to push you outside of your comfort zone and get you into an environment you may not regularly find yourself in. The course culminates in a showcase of the films at a special Social Work Film Festival in late May 2019.

Complimentary parking will be available.

Please contact Juan Macias, associate director of Alumni Career and Professional Development, at or 213-821-5506 to learn more. To register, please fill out this form, and Juan will follow up with you.

You can also join our live information session Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. PDT. Join online or via phone at 877-361-4628 using conference code 6165771057. Please log on 5 minutes prior to the session to download Adobe Connect, if needed.


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 15-minute, short content film. Concepts 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, October 20, 2018 - 9am-12pm - Intro to the Documentary/Documentary Photography & Elements of a Story

Saturday, November 17, 2018 - 9am-12pm - The Documentary Format/Research & Proposal/Pitch

Saturday, December 15, 2018 - 9am-12pm - Storytelling & Screen Grammar

Saturday, January 19, 2019 - 9am-12pm - Essentials of Production I

Saturday, February 16, 2019 - 9am-12pm - Essentials of Production II

Saturday, March 23, 2019 - 9am-12pm - Fundamentals of Editing & Campaign Plan & Distribution I

Saturday, April 20 2019 - 9am-12pm - Non-Linear Editing & Campaign Plan & Distribution II

Saturday, May 18, 2019 - 9am-12pm - Direct Distribution & Evaluating Your Video Advocacy Outcomes – Measuring Impact & Fine Cut/Picture Lock


Rafael Angulo, MSW

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 class, 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 nearly 100 short films over the past 14 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.

Jillian Barba, MSW '09 - Teaching Assistant

Emmy nominated producer Jillian Barba began her work in film in 2012. Her credits include associate producer of Emmy nominated HBO documentary film, “Back on Board,” the story of Olympic diver Greg Louganis. “Back on Board” was also nominated by the Producers Guild of America and has received much acclaim from a wide range of audiences. She is also the executive producer of “Imminent Threat,” which she produced with Oscar nominated James Cromwell. Most recently she produced "Tonight Jungle", two plays by acclaimed English playwright, Philip Ridley, and is the executive producer of “Run for the Truth,” a short narrative which explores the many dynamics of family and the unbearable truth in love. Her projects have been reviewed and praised by the likes of The New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, Time Magazine, and The Los Angeles Times.

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

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 participants 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.