Television Production - Documentary Option

The documentary pathway is the study of non-fiction storytelling. Students will spend three semesters studying the genres, the production techniques and story devices of non-fiction/documentary production.  The final semester students will be part of a team making a documentary senior thesis project.

This non-fiction/documentary storytelling is different from narrative as the story comes together in the edit room. Most documentary makers find this form of storytelling very rewarding. Students master all phases of production, including producing, directing, editing and the technical skills necessary to realize documentary projects. Graduates will emerge with the professional, creative and collaborative skills critically needed in today's evolving world of documentary/non-fiction storytelling. Students interested in this option must complete all the lower division CTVA requirements of CTVA 100, 210, 220 and one of the following CTVA 240, CTVA 250 or CTVA 260 with a C or better.   

Skill areas are:

  • Editing (the documentary is always made in the edit room this is a real important role for someone that has both story skills and like figuring out puzzles because you stitch together the story after you shoot it) 
  • Sound Production/Post Production (sound is as important and sometimes more important than picture in documentary storytelling. It provides not only story context, but also emotion for each character. 
  • Cinematography (the cinematographer in documentary production learns the skills of visual storytelling. Because many times there are no storyboard or absolutely planned shots and it is up to the cinematographer to capture the story plot point without a director telling them what to shoot.) 
  • Producer/Director/Production Manager (All of these roles are rolled into one position in most documentary production as it is a cost saving move. Usually the students in this skill are storytellers, writers, are very organized, have leadership skills and like to work in a creative collaborative environment.)

If interested in selecting the Documentary Pathway and have completed CTVA 100, CTVA 210, CTVA 220, CTVA 240 or CTVA 250 or CTVA 260 with a C or better grade please email Professor Quinn Saunders


Documentary Portfolio Information 

Open: January 23, 2023  – Due: April 2, 2023

Click here to submit


Award Winning Documentaries produced by CTVA Television students:

  • 2017
    Serve (10-minute Documentary) Observational documentary about the collaboration of volunteers working in the kitchen and food bank at Meeting Every Need with Dignity (MEND), a poverty agency in Pacoima, and the recipients of these services. (Awards: Semi-finalist Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Student Documentary Award, Semi-finalist Sydney Indie Festival, Best Short Film Highland Park Independent Film Festival, BEA Regional Award of Excellence.)
  • 2016
    Slabbers (5-minute Documentary) (Awards: BEA Student Documentary Honorable Mention 2016.)
  • 2013
    1000Xno: Students Giving Voice to a Silent Epidemic (10-minute Documentary) (Awards: Atlantic City Film Festival Special Jury Prize, October 12, 2013.)
  • 2012
    Homegirl (5-minute Documentary) (Awards: CSU Media Arts Finalist Best Documentary 2012)
  • 2008
    Humble Pie (12-minute Documentary) (Awards: CSU Media Arts Finalist Best Documentary 2008.)
  • 2007
    Catharsis “The story of a survivor’s art” (10 minute-Documentary), (Awards: CSU Media Arts Winner Best Documentary 2007 and Spuds Festival Idaho Finalist 2008.)
    Undying Monster (10-minute Magazine), (Awards: Spuds Festival Idaho Finalist 2008, Best in Category, Short Form Award- Student Documentary Competition of the Broadcast Education Association 2007, Shock Film Festival. Vine Theater on Hollywood Nov. 1, 2008.)
  • 2006
    Jenny’s Journal (10-minute Documentary), (Awards: Idaho Panhandle International Film Festival-Best Northwest Filmmaker, Calgary International Fringe Film Festival-Finalist, Westwood International Film Festival- Finalist.)
    Dairy Cow (10-minute Documentary), (Awards: Broadcast Education Association Winner Best Documentary 2006, Spuds Festival Idaho-Best Cinematography of Festival Award, CSU Media Arts 2nd Place Best Documentary, LA Short Film Festival-Finalist, 2006 Bluegrass Independent Film Festival-Finalist.)
    Unmask the Future (PSA), (Awards: CSU Media Arts Winner Best of Television 2006.)
  • 2005
    The White Line (10-minute Documentary), (Awards: CSU Media Arts Winner Best Cinematography of Festival, CSU Media Arts 2nd Place Best Documentary.)
    Extended Love (10-minute Documentary), (Awards: CSU Media Arts Winner Best Documentary 2005.)
  • 2004
    The Ultimate Price (10-minute Documentary), (Awards: CSU Media Arts Finalist Best Documentary 2004.)


Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree

(For Students who have a catalog number from 2020 or select to be in the Documentary option )

Please email Professor Quinn Saunders if you want to change to the Documentary Production pathway in TV.

I. Lower Division (12 units)

Students need to complete with a passing grade of C or higher:

  • CTVA 100 Introduction to Mass Communication Arts (3)
  • CTVA 210 Television-Film Aesthetics (3)
  • CTVA 220 Foundations of Media Writing (3)
  • CTVA 240 Fundamentals of Video Production (3)
    or CTVA 250 Fundamentals of Film Production (3)
    or CTVA 260 Intro Digital Filmmaking (3)


  • CTVA 319         (3)        Criticism in CTVA  

Select One:

  • CTVA 305           (3)       History of Television   
    or CTVA 310       (3)       History of American Cinema 

Select One:

  • CTVA 351            (3)        Anatomy of Film Producing 
    or CTVA 480        (3)        Entertainment Media Mgt
    or CTVA 482        (3)        Network Program Development
    or CTVA 487        (3)        Soc. Controls & Reg of Media

Select One:

  • CTVA 329 A&B     (3)        Program Production
    or CTVA 329C      (3)        Program Production
    or  CTVA 494 A&B   (3)      Internship     


Take all of the following:

  • CTVA 301        (3)        Research CTVA
  • CTVA 331        (3)        Producing the Documentary
  • CTVA 341        (3)        Single Camera Television Prod
  • CTVA 416        (3)        Documentary Tradition
  • CTVA 441        (3)        Directing the TV Documentary 

Skill Area according to your portfolio acceptance skill emphasis:

  • CTVA 342         (3)        Digital Cinematography 
  • CTVA 343         (3)        Television Production Sound
  • CTVA 352         (3)        Nonlinear Digital Editing 
  • CTVA 455         (3)        Principles of Production Mgmt

Additional Elective Units (3 units):
Select 3 additional upper division CTVA or allied field, with the approval of an advisor, as prescribed in the official departmental advisement form for Television Production Option-Documentary