Documentary Film Opportunities

Colorado State University Documentary Film Opportunities

Students on the Colorado State University campus interested in documentary films are fortunate to have many opportunities to develop their skills. In addition to the opportunities outlined below, many other academic pursuits lend themselves to developing specialized skills that are useful in film production, such as historical research and creative design.

If you are inspired to get involved, please reach out to Frank Boring (frank.boring@colostate.edu), adviser for Tree Stump Films, the individual contacts below, or sign up for documentary film-related classes. Please note, many of the classes offered have prerequisites before you can register.

Tree Stump Films Overview

Students involved in Tree Stump Films (“TSF”), a department of Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation (“RMSMC”), work in their respective field of interest adding their talents to the overall group effort producing documentary films. The documentary film process requires a myriad of talents all working together. For instance, these students could all be working on the same project:

  • History and Science students trained in research produces background content and interview questions.
  • Journalism students operate cameras and edit video files.
  • Art students produce animations and graphics.
  • English students write scripts.


TSF’s approach is different from the classroom environment where students usually work independently, over the course of one semester, and the projects are tested and graded based on the individual students’ efforts. Students at TSF are encourage to stay involved over multiple semesters, spanning multiple projects.

The TSF experience allows students from all grade levels to work together on projects without admission requirements other than their individual talents. For example, in an academic department, first-year student cannot apply for some courses before they take prerequisite courses. At TSF, if they have the skills or are willing to be trained via mentoring and workshops, they can get involved in making documentary films.

Students can apply to Tree Stump Films as a volunteer (including through Department Practicum class or Independent Study) or as a paid staff member (through Work Study or paid directly by Rocky Mountain Student Media).

Current Partners: History, Warner College, Natural Science, Collaborative for Student Achievement, English and NACC

Tree Stump Films provides a full-time experienced documentary filmmaker as an adviser to the students. The adviser works with the students on the short- and long-term planning necessary to produce a quality documentary film. The films produced are then shown on Rocky Mountain PBS. The adviser also coordinates workshops, plans equipment purchases and mentors the students in both group and individual settings.

Tree Stump Films offers experience and training that are not attempted to duplicate courses already offered at CSU. Guest Professionals in their respective field are invited in person or via Zoom to conduct specific workshops offered to students at no cost. The overall goal of TSF is to enhance students’ educational experiences.

Film Festivals on Campus and in the Community

Sample Workshops Offered by Tree Stump Films:

  • Interview skills for documentary films 
  • Documentary scriptwriting
  • Funding documentaries
  • Submitting films for festivals, awards and competitions
  • Animation
  • Pitching documentary projects
  • Starting and running/and or joining a documentary film company

Journalism and Mass Communication Overview

The Journalism and Mass Communication Department at CSU has a long history of offering classes and experienced instructors that are relevant to developing the production skills needed for documentary films.

Sample Classes offered:

  • JTC 346 Narrative Filmmaking (class and lab)
  • JTC 340 Video Editing
  • JTC 433 Advanced Video Editing
  • JTC 435 Documentary Video Production
  • SPCM 360 The Personal Lens-Making Media

Key Contacts:

  • Steve Weiss
  • Jaime Jacobsen

Communication Studies Overview

The Communication Studies department has relevant classes in their Film and Media Studies areas of study.  The classes emphasize the study of media in their historical, economic, political, and social contexts.  There are currently no classes offered that provide production using video cameras or professional-level editing software.

Sample Classes offered (in Spring 2023):

  • SPCM 350: Evaluating Contemporary Film (lecture and lab
  • SPCM 352: Screenwriting as Communication
  • SPCM 354: A Film History
  • SPCM 357: Film & Social Change
  • SPCM 360: Personal Lens Making Media
  • SPCM 455: Narrative Fiction Film as a Liberal Art
  • SPCM 486B: Practicum: Film Festivals

Key Contacts:

  • Chung Hei
  • Beth Seymore
  • Greg Dickinson
  • Usama Alshaibi

Other CSU Classes Related to Film

Ethnic Studies:

  • ETST 1790: Black Cinema and Media
  • ETST 373 Horror Films and Race, Female Body


  • HIST 453: Modern East Asia Through Film
  • Music, Theater, and Dance
  • Many classes for actors and set design


  • Art 358 Experimental Video
  • Art 458 Advanced Experimental Video

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