Documentary Film Institute

Lights. Camera. Action. What’s the story you want to tell?

Do you have an interest in video production or filmmaking? Do you love shooting photos on your phone or telling stories to your friends? If so, then the Documentary Film Institute is for you. The Documentary Film Institute is a week-long program designed for high school students to gain an understanding of documentary storytelling as well as some of the fundamentals of video production. Students will learn about various documentary forms, visit local museums and businesses to see how professional non-fiction storytelling is utilized, and create a short film to take with them at the end of the week.

At a Glance


Dates: June 16-21, 2019 and July 28-August 2, 2019

Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school and incoming college freshmen

Program Length: 1-week sessions

Program Tuition: $2,350

Location: Winston-Salem, NC – Wake Forest University Reynolda Campus

Residential or Non Residential: Residential

*Courses carry no secondary school or college credit. Upon completion of the program, an official Wake Forest University certificate of achievement will be awarded to all Documentary Film Institute participants.

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What You’ll Experience

Topics Covered

  • Fundamentals of Non-Fiction Storytelling
  • Documentary Styles
  • Social Justice Filmmaking
  • Interview Tips
  • Video Editing
  • Filmmaking Basics
  • Film Festivals

Hands-On Experience:

  • Work in a group to create a short documentary film
  • Engage in discussion with local film professionals
  • Watch innovative and exciting documentary films
  • Hear about trends in documentaries and see behind the scenes
  • Visit local museums to see how they utilize documentary films and social justice messaging

*Hands-on experiences are subject to change.

Documentary Film Institute Costs:

Reynolda Campus (Residential Program) | $2,350

A Day in the Life

  • 8:00 – 9:00 am – Arrive and breakfast
  • 9:00 – 9:30 am – Welcome and program introduction
  • 9:30 – 10:30 am – Special guest lecture: Advocacy and social justice in documentary film
  • 10:30 am – 12:00 pm – Technical skills: Fundamentals of using Adobe Premiere for film editing
  • 12:00-1:00 pm – Lunch and learn: Watch a documentary film
  • 1:00 – 4:30 pm – Field trip to Civil Rights Museum to see how documentary film is utilized in a museum setting
  • 4:30 – 5:30 pm – Debrief for the next day
  • 5:30 – 6:30 pm – Dinner
  • 6:30 – 7:30 pm – Evening activities
  • 7:30 – 9:00 pm – Free time
  • 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm – Prepare for bed
  • 10:00 pm – Lights out

*This “A Day in the Life” sample schedule is based upon the 2018 curriculum and is subject to change. 

Chris-Zaluski-HeadshotChris Zaluski

Academic Leader, Documentary Film Institute

Chris Zaluski is an Assistant Professor at the Wake Forest University Documentary Film Program and teaches courses in editing, advanced production, and visual storytelling. He is an award-winning multimedia producer specializing in documentary film production, web design and writing/reporting. He is also a freelance documentary videographer, editor and producer for Honest Eye Productions.

Zaluski started his career as a journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Roanoke Times before transitioning to documentary film. He has also worked as the Director of Video Operations at Teach For America.

He has won awards for multimedia storytelling and filmmaking from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Broadcast Education Association, Webby Awards, Virginia Press Association, National Broadcasting Society, and the Online News Association. His documentaries have screened at film festivals nationwide and have aired on PBS and Amazon Video.