SPNN's Doc U Program

The power of the documentary film is its ability to shine a spotlight on issues, stories, and perspectives that would otherwise go unheard and thus unnoticed. It is this unique power that enables documentaries to broaden horizons.

Applications for the 2021 program will be open March of 2021. 

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The Program:
Participants will be guided through the creative process, learning all aspects of documentary filmmaking. This includes training in video camera techniques; the use of sound and lighting equipment; and video editing using Adobe Premiere CC. Established local documentarians and filmmakers, along with SPNN staff, lead weekly classes on pre-production, story construction, basic camera and other field gear, editing, and interview techniques. Participants also work one-on-one with SPNN staff, receiving personal guidance on their project. If you’re interested in past participants’ experiences click here to read blogs written throughout the process. Look over the 2018 Syllabus.

Requirements to Participate: 

  • You must have an idea for a short documentary
  • want mentorship from SPNN staff and visiting artists 
  • be able to meet all program dates
  • be 18+ years of age
  • Have enough time in your daily life to produce a short documentary (about 5-10 hours of work a week)
  • Meet one of the following criteria:
    • be low-income or working class. Low-income is 200% of the poverty level. Check here if you meet the low-income guidelines. If you qualify for any government program; food programs including SNAP and free or reduced school lunches, housing assistance, disability, medicade, etc you automatically qualify for Doc U.  
    • Be a member of an underrepresented community in media (POC, LGBTQ, Women, etc.)

Program Dates:
Summer 2021.

This year's program will run on Monday evenings from 6pm to 9pm tentatively.

Embarking on learning a new skill is courageous. Doing it in 16 weeks requires dedication. It is worth the effort when important stories are told.

Past participants experience:
Doc U participants have greatly benefited from their participation in the program, leaving with a greater sense of confidence, new skills and knowledge, and an increased appreciation for media arts. Participants say they feel empowered to take their knowledge and use it in their communities to bring voice to those whose stories might not otherwise be heard. They benefited from the learning environments offered by Doc U and increased their ability to tackle demanding projects and bring them to successful completion. One past participant summed up her experience this way, "I feel the principals of Doc U and SPNN provide the footing people require to exercise their personal dreams under the auspices of a caring, professional and mentor based environment."

SPNN's Doc U program is made possible with funding from the McKnight Foundation. 

red background with white text McKnight Foundation