School of Doc


Photo credit: Alex Boerner

The School of Doc, launched in 2011, is a completely free program (including meals) serving Durham teens who participate in the five-week intensive summer course taught by professional filmmakers. The program is held in Full Frame’s theater and classroom space, where students work as a crew to produce a professional documentary film. Coursework includes all technical elements of the craft: camera, lights, sound, editing, and special effects, as well as pre- and post-production considerations such as rights and clearances, graphics and credits. Each School of Doc student spends time working in each of these areas.

Students build self-esteem as they work as a team, choose their own subject (often a local not-for-profit organization), and create a final film. Students also discover the link between documentary filmmaking skills and real-world job skills. Throughout the program, students visit local job sites where these tools are applied, such as ABC11, Trailblazer Studios, and the Durham Bulls television studio. At the end of the five weeks, the students present their final film to more than 100 excited audience members in the Full Frame Theater. The event is free and open to the public.

The following April, students attend the festival free of charge, visit with professional filmmakers, and present their work to the public as part of the festival’s free programming. Their filmmaker instructors supervise the students throughout the four-day event.

The World Premiere of Blackspace, the 2016 School of Doc film, occurred on Thursday, July 21st, 2016, in the Full Frame Theater at the American Tobacco Campus. The film will also be presented at the 2017 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.


The School of Doc is open to any student currently enrolled in grades 9-12 within Durham Public Schools.

The application for School of Doc 2017 will be available in January 2017. The 2017 Full Frame School of Doc will occur mid-June, 2017 to mid-July, 2017. Exact dates will be announced at the beginning of 2017.

For questions, please contact Suzanne Spignesi at or 919.433.9804.

The School of Doc is generously supported by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Baskerville Fund at the Triangle Community Foundation, the Fenhagen Family and Helen’s Fund, IBM, and the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.

Support the School of Doc free annual youth summer camp with a tax-deductible donation today: