Summer Film School

Documentary Filmmaking A-Z

An intensive program working with independent documentary filmmakers.

June 1 – July 2, 2015

During the month of June, MassArt offers a unique, intensive, sequential documentary filmmaking program with award-winning filmmakers that is like a mini-film school. Take the full program and learn what might take more than a year otherwise. Or take any single class or combination of classes that fits your experience or needs. For students from out of town or interested in focusing only on their class(es), a residential option is available in MassArt's Artists Residence located across the street from studio classrooms and one block from the Museum of Fine Arts.

June 1 – 5: Documentary Video Boot Camp with Michael Sheridan
June 8 – 12: The Documentary Camera with Steve Ascher
June 15 – 19: Documentary Sound with Eric Masunaga
June 22 – 26: Editing the Documentary with Sabrina Zanella-Foresi
June 30 - July 2: Producing the Documentary with Julie Mallozzi

Course Descriptions

Documentary Video Boot Camp
The full production experience in fast motion: project definition, project planning, camera, editing, and presentation. All with an introduction to context and history of independent documentary production, all in one week. Open to all levels.

The Documentary Camera
Hand-held camera, sit down interviews, observational, location filming— the camera tells the story. Learn to do more than just capture a moment. Think about how to frame the story through the camera and what that means for how the viewer experiences it. Basic camera knowledge or Documentary Video Boot Camp suggested.

Sound for Documentary
Sound is at least half the picture. Learn successful approaches to sound through analysis, hands-on recording, mixing and editing demos and exercises and assignments.

Editing the Documentary
Editing is essentially directing in post-production. Work with experienced editors to explore editing techniques and styles as they relate to documentary production. Even for non-editors, understanding editing is a great way to be better prepared for and do a better job in production. Basic knowledge of digital editing required.

Producing the Documentary
Intensive prep for anyone serious about making their own documentary. Learn how the pros prepare for production: planning, writing, budgeting, fundraising. Open to all levels.


Michael Sheridan is a filmmaker and artist whose work addresses issues of social development and the tipping point between order and chaos. His documentary work has been on PBS, The Learning Channel, Discovery Network and National Geographic TV, and his artworks have been exhibited at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Boston Cyberarts Festival and the GASP gallery in Boston. He is the Director of Community Supported Film, an organization that trains filmmakers from poor and developing countries to tell important stories from local perspectives. His ongoing project, Brewing Tea in a Kettle of War, about Afghanistan, is being produced with CSF trained filmmakers in Afghanistan.  Michael has taught at Northeastern, MassArt and at the former Boston Film/Video Foundation. He has an MFA from MassArt.

Steve Ascher is a director, cinematographer, writer, educator and media consultant. He co-founded West City Films with Jeanne Jordan, and together they have produced award winning films that have been broadcast around the world and won numerous awards, including an Oscar nomination. Their films, for which Steve was cinematographer, include Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern (1996), which won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance and received the Oscar nomination; So Much So Fast (2006), which premiered at Sundance and was broadcast on PBS Frontline and internationally including on the BBC and ZDF; and Raising Renee (2011), which was broadcast on HBO and internationally. Steve's newest film, Seduction Theory, is a short drama which has been selected for this year's Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner. Steve is also the author, with Ed Pincus, of The Filmmakers Handbook: a Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age, which is now in it's fourth printing with over 300,000 copies in circulation.

Eric Masunaga is a composer, sound recordist and sound mixer, who has worked on location, on set and in post-production on feature and documentary film. For the past 10 years he has been Finishing Supervisor for Modulus Studios, a picture mastering and 5.1 surround mixing facility in Brighton, MA. His credits include the sound mixes for indie director Andrew Bujalksi's films.

Sabrina Zanella-Foresi is a feature-length documentary editor/producer. She works in both verite and historical documentary forms with a special emphasis on personal documentaries. She has edited for both independent projects as well as public television, including American Experience and Frontline. She has edited several projects for acclaimed independent filmmakers Ross McElwee (Redux, forthcoming; Photographic Memory, 2011) and Laurel Chiten (Just One Drop, forthcoming; Twisted, 2007; Touched, 2003), and edited Allie Humenuk's film on photographer Abe Morell, Shadow of the House, 2007. She has also acted as consulting editor on several independent documentaries, and has co-produced several films. Sabrina also has six years of university teaching experience in Film/Video Production and Film Studies at Boston University, Harvard University, Emerson College, University of Massachusetts- Boston, and MassArt. 

Julie Mallozzi is an independent filmmaker whose works have been screened at festivals and in theaters throughout the US and broadcast on PBS, and she has also been a producer for a number of PBS programs. Julie studied filmmaking as an undergraduate at Harvard, where she has also taught, and has an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute.



For information contact:


Watch a video on the Summer Film School

Documentary Video Bootcamp

Program Information and Costs

Each class can be taken for 1 credit except Producing the Documentary

Course cost: $770 for each class 1 credit; $705 non-credit

Producing the Documentary: non-credit only $525


Residential housing per workshop (5 nights) rate $315 single.

Meals are not included. Parking extra. 

"I came from northern California to attend. I took the camera, audio recording, editing and producing classes.The instructors were dedicated, generous in their time and knowledgeable, working professionals. They really packed in the info. They had prepared syllabi and actually followed them, and handled the time constraints of so much info well. The cost was fair, and the instructors put in full time class time. Many have made themselves available after the summer to answer questions.  We students had current equipment in good repair to practice with. The college even provided a T.A. for every class, which shows the college's commitment to creating a real learning experience.

I am a novice -- I have the basic knowledge, but not much experience.I live in an area with few video networking opportunities. For me, the ability to get concentrated teaching over a matter of weeks by professionals in the industry helped advance my skills. And Boston is a fascinating city to spend some time in, too. Thank you, MassArt!

T. Meyer