Tree Stump Films

Tree Stump Films provides students with real-world experience in the planning, production, and broadcast of a documentary film.

Grayson Irl Max DIY Interview
Blasti DIY interview (Grayson)

A little more about Tree Stump Films...

TSF is the production company of Rocky Mountain Student Media Documentary Film Program.

The purpose is to provide students with real world experience in the planning, production and broadcast of a documentary film. It aims to replicate the actual workings of a professional documentary film company. 

The RMSM documentary film program is in partnership with Rocky Mountain PBS to provide professional standards that allow students to produce short documentaries for potential broadcast on RMPBS. Each completed and approved documentary produced under Tree Stump Films will acknowledge students’ participation in the credits and provide a professional broadcast to their resume.  

TSF Crew pose before their scriptwriting workshop by Blake Miller from the CSI films.

Front to back, left to right: Adalia Crist (Scriptwriter), Irl Paulalengan (Director), Grayson Reed (Videographer), Jenna Harper (Historian/Director), Jay Hixson (Historian/Director), Carolina Graves (Social Media/Production Assistant), Frank Boring (Adviser), Ryan Connor (Science Researcher/Director, Dallen Simske (Historian/Director), Rusty Drake (Historian/Director), and Phoenix Heavner (Videographer).

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CSU Majors, Classroom experience, assignments and grades

CSU offers a myriad of important courses relating to filmmaking. Journalism, Communications and several other courses are offered of interest to students in any given academic year. 

Tree Stump Films is open to any student interested without the requirement of taking a particular class and does not require prerequisites. 

The documentary film process requires a myriad of talents all working together. In the classroom environment students are required to work independently and in some cases in groups but the projects are tested and graded based on the individual students’ efforts. Once finished it is on to the next class project. 

 The idea of replicating a professional documentary film company is unique as it allows students to work in their respective field of interest adding talent not present in the group. Inclusion of any majors allows for History Student trained in research to work with Journalism camera operators, editors, Art Department animators and English major writers on projects throughout a semester and present their work at the end of the semester. 

It also allows First, Second, Third- and Fourth-year students to work together on projects without admission requirements other than their individual talents. As an example, First-year student cannot apply for some CSU courses before they take prerequisite courses but if they have acquired the skills in editing or camera in High School, they can apply to participate in the Documentary Film Program at RMSM.

Students are required to be enrolled at CSU but not required to be employees at RMSM. Students can apply through Practicum, Work Study, volunteers or as paid interns depending on funding. 

How to participate:

Each semester CSU students can apply online through Handshake.

Students will be interviewed by the Student Director and the RMSM advisor. The application is open to any interested CSU student. Students that have watched documentary films and have an interest in how films are made get the opportunity to participate “from the inside”. 

Prior skills and passion in documentary filmmaking is highly encouraged.



(each student can have only one or have several positions on each documentary project)

  • Director
  • Production Assistant
  • Scriptwriter
  • Researcher
  • Lighting Specialist
  • Sound Specialist
  • Camera
  • Editors
  • Graphic Designer
  • IT
  • Marketing

Enhancing a student’s experience at CSU

Because of prerequisites in the individual majors not all aspects of the classroom allow for different majors to access the overall skills that are required in documentary filmmaking. Tree Stump Films offers workshops that are not attempted to duplicate courses already offered at CSU.


The RMSM Documentary Program will provide:

Workshops enhancing the education of students at CSU specific to documentary filmmaking.

  • Advanced Interview techniques for documentary film
  • Story Structure and character development 
  • Scriptwriting for documentaries
  • Lighting, sound and camera for documentary film
  • How to pitch a documentary film
  • Documentary film financing and fundraising
  • How to start, fund and operate a professional documentary film company

Requirements for student-produced documentaries:

Documentary lengths of 3-7 minutes with credits.

Must be approved before production by the student director and the student advisor. Upon completion of a “rough cut” it must be approved by the student advisor prior to submission to RMPBS.

The documentaries must adhere to the broadcast standards of RMPBS.

Each semester students will meet to discuss potential documentary projects under the supervision of the student director and the student advisor.

As a documentary film production company Tree Stump Films is a collaborative teamwork organization. Student used to class projects requiring them to work alone or in small groups recruited from their class will find they are not alone in the production.

Each student in a group will have the responsibility of participating as a group and not bear the full weight of completion by themselves. This also requires student to communicate and work together towards a completed film for RMPBS. 

The Production Assistant provides each of the student directors with assistance in planning, calendar, contact and scheduling. This includes making sure all film crew and equipment required is ready at the actual shoot. 

This allows the director/producer/interviewer of the production to focus on their role allowing for the camera/ Lights/ Sound to focus on their particular role in the production. 

Professionals arrive on time, prepared and with the necessary equipment to conduct an interview and/or a shoot. Unlike a classroom project that earns a grade, Tree Stump Films requires professional behavior to insure a professional product acceptable for broadcast on RMPBS. In the professional world there are no grades. Only professional results. The reward is a professional credit in a broadcast seen by a discerning audience used to great programming. Anyone can post a YouTube video. Tree Stump Films produces professional quality documentary films for broadcast and distribution. 

The documentaries must adhere to the broadcast standards of


Student Leaders

Advisor: Frank Boring


Frank Boring was born in China and has traveled extensively pursuing a career in writing, theater and video.

With an extensive career in Film, Frank Boring was most recently hired by Tony Frank to produce a documentary celebrating CSU’s 150 years. The Great Experiment, CSU at 150 was broadcast on Rocky Mountain PBS in October 2020.

Director: Carolina Graves

Carolina Graves Headshot 3_6_24

Junior, Journalism and Mass Communication

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