Documentary for Social Action is a hands-on learning course taught by award-winning independent filmmaker Bob Nesson. Students work with nonprofits to produce documentary videos used for educational and fundraising purposes. At the beginning of the semester, potential clients pitch their projects to the class and students select which projects to produce.
This semester, 37 local nonprofits applied to partner with the course, reflecting great local need for assistance making videos that stand on their own as complete films, but can also be used for promotion and education. The students chose Haley House, a soup kitchen and live-in community in Dudley Square, as their client. The focus of their video is Haley House’s Transitional Employment Program (TEP), which assists people who have been recently released from incarceration to re-enter the workforce. Working as a small team, students develop a project description, letter of agreement, production plan with timeline and budget, and then produce a rich documentary video. The entire process involves collaboration – with each other and with the client. From location scouting to shooting to editing and delivery, the students are responsible for producing a video that meets their defined objectives: create a documentary capable of building awareness for the organization and an important social cause.
TEP evolved from the Bakery Training Program, started at Haley House in 1996, where men experiencing homelessness would bake pastries, cookies, and breads to generate income. Their work experience, gained in a safe and stable environment, develops the necessary skills for future employment opportunities. TEP exemplifies Haley House’s belief in the ability of people to turn their lives around through the power of community support and strong relationships. The organization stresses the importance of pursuing educational opportunities and offers tutoring and transitional support though community live-in members and volunteers. Haley House is committed to social action and education, making it a perfect client for the Documentary for Social Action course.