UTA Magazine
Crash Course
Art 4350: Documentary Film/Video

11 a.m.-1:50 p.m. • Tuesday-Thursday • Fine Arts 156

Instructor: Barton Weiss, associate professor of art and art history

Catalog description: Using film and video as a tool for creative research, students produce, write, direct and edit original documentaries or nonfiction films/videos. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Art 4362 or instructor’s permission.

About the professor: Weiss has taught at UT Arlington for eight years, including the past six years and two years as a visiting assistant professor. He also teaches Advanced Film Video, Directed Screenings, Video Art, Corporate Film Video and Intro to Film Video, Sound and Post Production. He has directed the Dallas Video Festival for 18 years, is the artistic director for 3 Stars Cinema and produces "Frame of Mind," a monthly show for KERA-TV. He is a member of the board of directors (and former president) of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, a founding board member for Dallas Artists Research and Exhibition, past vice president of the Texas Association of Film and Tape Professionals, founder and past president of the West Virginia Filmmakers Guild, and co-founder of the Dallas Video Festival and the Video Association of Dallas. He has been a video columnist for The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Times Herald and United Features Syndicate.

Required reading: There’s no required text, but there are handouts and films to screen. Suggested reading includes Directing the Documentary, 4th edition, by Michael Rabiger and Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film by Erik Barnouw.

Course format: Students will make a short documentary film, complete a few short exercises and study the documentary form. After watching several documentaries, the students will develop, shoot and edit a documentary. Grades are based on work produced. The class typically has 15-18 students.

About the documentaries: Subjects that students have tackled include the State Fair of Texas, a Civil War recreation (about a woman who plays a woman of the night), abortion, following a rock ’n’ roll band, and family issues. Typically, the documentaries last 10-12 minutes.

What the prof says: "The documentary film is very big now. In many reviews of festivals like Sundance, the press will say that the dramatic films were nice but what was really great were the docs. So what makes docs rock? This class delves into the history and the technique of the nonfiction film/video also known as the documentary."

Pop quiz
1. True or false? Everything in a documentary is factual.
2. Is Fahrenheit 911 a documentary?
3. Should a documentary film/video have a point of view?



1. False. From the beginning of the documentary (Nanook of the North), there were faked elements.
2. "Depends who’s doing the defining," Weiss says. "From my point of view it is."
3. Yes. A documentary film should reflect the values and point of view of the artist creating it.

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