Learn to develop, write, pitch and structure your documentary idea for sale and production.

While ideas for documentaries abound, the key is to realize the development of the idea into a doable, sellable, and compelling documentary treatment or proposal. This course is for anyone who has a documentary project  to produce, write and develop. The workshop provides an overview of the process by which documentary ideas become films. Students learn what works and what does not. Instruction covers how to research a story, outline ideas, develop a treatment, introduce and develop characters. In addition to participating in lectures, screenings, readings and one-on-one consults with the instructor, students practice pitching their projects in class for critique. The class covers a wide range of documentary forms and styles, including nature and science, social and current events, history and biography. Students come away with a firm understanding of how to put a documentary idea into a format that can be marketed and produced. 

Winter/Spring lodging and meal package available for $475. Includes breakfast and lunch Monday – Friday. Dinner services are not available during our Winter/Spring session. Meal plan (mandatory) without lodging $125.


Jack McDonald

Jack McDonald is an Emmy Award-winning writer and director of documentary films for National Geographic ExplorerDiscovery, TLC and PBS. His films include a PBS special, West Point; Legendary Lighthouses of Hawaii for Oregon Public Television and PBS; Tornado of the Century, for the Discovery Channel; Great Palaces of the World, written and produced for TLC; and Avalanche!, written and coproduced for NOVA/WGBHHe has also written a 13-part series for theDiscovery Channel, titled The Himalaya, as well as a score of films for National Geographic. His producing and story work encompasses formats from worldwide broadcast to online media, from mass audience to NGO and advocacy, working with subjects that span the sciences, humanities, and current events -- and geographically, around the world.  Jack has been teaching for over a dozen years with high praise from his students.


Course Dates

Feb 25 to Mar 3



Class Size