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Open Access Publishing Hot Topic at #SCMS17

DocFilm just returned from this year’s SCMS (Society for Cinema and Media Studies) conference in the big old city of Chicago.  Not as gritty as I remember it from days past, Chicago is hip, happening, and operating at warp speed.  There were wireless “charging rings” for your devices in the coffee shops, not to mention mobile ordering and pick-up at Starbucks.  The smart elevators in the AON center whisked you up to the 80th so fast you got a bit of a head rush from it.  And, one of the most interesting discussions at this year’s event was also concerned with the inter-future of academic publishing, aka the open access model.

open access scms17 chicago

There were two workshops dedicated to the topic and a flurry of the biggest gatekeepers of profit, non-profit and alternative forms of book and journal publication as well as the new guard of revolutionary writers, bloggers and scholars who are aiming to democratize the system and a couple people who seem to fall in both of those categories… The big question at hand: is open access a revolutionary model or just another way for the major players to control the system?  Can it possibly be a sustainable form for sharing research without the traditional backing of book sales and publishers’ prestigious marquees?

There is a whirlwind of new websites out there with the explicit intention to share, share widely and share freely.  Things like Critical Commons, Film Studies for Free,, (in) media res, Lever Press and SCMS backed [in]Transition.  Many of these initiatives spun into being as a response to the Budapest Open Access Initiative which was first published (online) in 2002.  There are countless additional sites that uphold its vision for free access via the arts, sciences, humanities, and social disciplines.  This has also given way to multi-platform approaches to creating scholarship using live annotations, film and audio clips and other creative renderings to deepen the relationship between the reader and the researcher, speak to a more global audience and include non-academic writers who may have just as much to contribute to the conversation.

Sustainability remains the key challenge to this rebellious effort meant to level the playing field of academia and research as something reserved only for the intelligent elite.   Many of these websites have also closed up shop after burning out from handling every aspect of publication themselves due to little or no funding or simply been unable to raise the minimum amount needed to keep their initiative alive.  And, alive, on the internet, is a very real problem.  Outdated pages, expired links, journeys to Error 404 abound.  There’s nothing more stinky than a rotten internet corpse.  Without regular maintenance, a system or platform to retain embedded data and, of course, M-O-N-E-Y, these efforts all have an eventual end.  As Mary Francis of University of Michigan Press pointed out (she was a panelist and vocal audience member), less and less people have the need to publish as tenured positions at University are decreasing at a rapid pace and Universities are saving that cash by bringing on the dreaded “adjunct” faculty instead.  If there is no professional need to publish, what then?  She also stressed that the processes of the presses have not really changed.  Yes, they now sometimes offer an open access version of a book or journal but not much else has evolved.  She wondered if we are looking in the right place to resolve this issue of inclusion, access and democracy among academics.

With 2020 swiftly approaching, so does a new referendum by the European Union entitled Horizon2020.  All scientific research papers that are produced under publicly funded initiatives must be made available for free.   We will see who’s ready (and who’s not) to capitalize on this when the new decade dawns.   At DocFilm we are eager to take part in this dialogue and help facilitate it.  We are busily constructing programs, initiatives and strategic partnerships to launch our own open access, multi-media nonfiction journal (working title) Pluralities.  Using the engagement with the so-called real as a center, the journal will mesh theory and practice of nonfiction film, explicitly connect with other disciplines in hopes to visualize, digitize and democratize research, media, and innovative reflections on reality.

open access scms17 chicago

Many many thanks to the SCMS17 for hosting these workshops and the fascinating individuals who structured the conversation as well as those who participated in it.

Workshop G5: Film and Media Studies in the Digital Era

Chaired by Caroline Edwards with Jefferson Pooley, Katie Gallof and Anna Froula

Workshop N16: Open Access Book Publishing

Chaired by Eric Hoyt with Mary Francis, Nedda Ahmed, Vicki Mayer (whose open access book I just downloaded), Lea Jacobs and Ben Brewster

Both with extremely vocal and sometimes adversarial crowds to whom I am also grateful.

Written by Soumyaa K. Behrens, Photos by Robert Barbarino

Be A Green Gator: #SustainableSFSU


Hey Gators, ever wonder where your trash goes after you throw it away? Be a Green Gator is an informative video that shows the lifecycle of your trash, recycle, and compost at SFSU. Waste management is crucial knowledge because throwing away trash has huge impacts on our global environment. For a healthy environment, it is important to know what trash bins to use to dispose your waste. Click the link for more information on correct Trash Bin Usage and share the video with other SF State students for a #SustainableSFSU

This project was developed through the Emerging Leaders Program at San Francisco State University.  DocFilm DIrector, Soumyaa Behrens graduated from the program and helped expand composting, green procurement and education surrounding the three bin system along with team members: Constance Cavallas, Caitlin Steele, Dylan Mooney, Jonathan Foerster, David Chelliah, Megan Dobbyn and Peter Le.

The animation was a collaborative effort by the DocFilm team and student assistants Daewon Kim and Kylie Pisciotto.

#SFSU #Docfilm #Trashbinusage #Wastemanagement #Greengator #Recycle #Compost #Trash

#EmergingLeaders #SustainableSFSU

DocFilm Forum: Barbara Hammer Master Class Conversation

DocFilm friends and community members,

Visual artist, filmmaker and SFSU alumna Barbara Hammer will be joining State students, faculty, staff and guests for a screening of her 2015 documentary, Welcome to this House on February 10th. Details of this public event can be found below.

On February 11th DocFilm will be recording the Master Class conversation with Barbara Hammer and Professor Cheryl Dunye as part of their ongoing series DocFilm Forum. 

DocFilm Forums are ongoing dialogues that investigate the urgent issues of our time by bringing together experts in the field of Documentary, alongside Social Justice Leaders, NGO Directors, Writers and Policy Makers.  Forums are held in front of a live audience and taped for broadcast and sharing at later dates.

Barbara Hammer

Our Fall 2016 Forum featured a conversation on the film Peace Officer and can be viewed here.

DocFilm Forum: Peace Officer

America is a country where the individual can make a difference. It is a place where one human being challenges the system and changes it by his efforts. What happens when that change takes on a life of its own and becomes an unruly monster that no individual can manage? This question lies at the heart of the recent documentary, Peace Officer.

7-Dub investigates Mathew Stewart home - Brad Barber pic

William “Dub” Lawrence investigates Mathew Stewart home – still from “Peace Officer”

William “Dub” Lawrence is responsible for the creation of the first SWAT team in Utah. His work was intended to make policing safer for everyone involved. But, when a member of his family finds himself engaged with Utah SWAT, everything goes wrong. Dub takes it upon himself to investigate the incident and it opens the door to a number of other cases with similar results. Peace Officer follows him on this quest.

We sat down with filmmakers Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson to analyze this and other related issues the film illustrates. We also invited the film editor, Renny McCauley, John Mutz, a retired LA Station Commander, Barbara Attard of Accountability Associates, the founder of a citizen oversight organization, and Britta Sjogren, Director of the School of Cinema at SFSU to examine and debate the impact of militarization in our national police forces.

Scott Christopherson and Renny McCauley are both distinguished graduates of the MFA in Cinema program at SFSU.

DocFilm Forums are ongoing dialogues that investigate the urgent issues of our time by bringing together experts in the field of Documentary, alongside Social Justice Leaders, NGO Directors, Writers and Policy Makers.  Forums are held in front of a live audience and taped for broadcast and sharing at later dates.


Don’t Get Hurt By That Glass Ceiling

Some events cannot be explained away as cosmic coincidence.


Hours before yesterday’s votes were counted, I sat discussing with my producers Soumyaa and Robert how best to present the feminist voice in our movie, Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond. Soumyaa suggested we employ the “oppressed gaze,” a well-worn trope used in film/literature theory to represent the idea that there is intrinsic power awarded to the person who gets to do the looking. In traditional novels and movies, the “male gaze” dominates. As spectators, we share that gaze with the camera, director and leading men. The primary recipient of the gaze, the objectified female, has no reciprocal “gazing” power.

We talked about the fact that women were not allowed to look through major telescopes until the 1960s. That American women were not allowed to view the Earth from space until the 1980s. That no matter how capable, how prepared, how passionate or how hard they work, there have been dreams that women could not achieve, just because they were women.

We never thought to discuss that a woman could not become our president in 2016. That came later, last night.

When the space age began, both Hillary Clinton and I (along with many other girls of our era) expressed our desire to become astronauts, but were told we could not. This was more than an escapist fantasy, I think, but rather a desire to enter and explore uncharted territories: deep space, the oval office.

How is space exploration different from the U.S. presidency when, historically, both have been denied to women? How is any quest to achieve a long cherished goal any different when nonsensical barriers like glass ceilings are placed in the way?

To reach a goal, some one must first be able to look at it. Gazing at the proverbial glass ceiling is next to impossible. The glass is transparent, not restricting the view of the dreams that lie beyond it, but preventing progress toward the goal nonetheless. It’s a profoundly false view.

My own brand of feminism, emanating from the same generation as Hillary Clinton’s, fights the oppressed gaze because it makes us angry. The inability to look at whatever we want, whenever we choose, should not be gender-dependent.

The post-election detail that upset me most this morning was reading that Clinton had planned to celebrate with her supporters beneath a glass ceiling that would symbolically shatter. Instead I think workers carefully removed the elaborate prop and stored it away. The glass ceiling remains intact.

Glass ceilings are always there and always will be, whether represented by the lens of the telescope, the window of a spaceship, or the view looking out into the White House Rose Garden.

If the barrier can’t be shattered, then it’s the dream that’s in danger of being shattered to pieces. But there’s another way to look at it: the glass, whether in the ceiling or in the sky, can also be used to focus the view more clearly.

Our awareness of such a barrier – even if we are not able to break it – is painful but necessary. We have to take a long, hard look to see what the barrier reveals, then refocus our gaze toward finding ways to explore what lies beyond.

By Jan Millsapps, Director of Madame Mars: Women and The Quest for Worlds Beyond.

Film Screening! Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet plays Oct 1

We are excited to share one of our newest releases with the Chamber Music community and the General Public!  Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet follows the world-class musicians on the road in Poland as they play Beethoven and share their talents and legacy with Polish audiences.


This Saturday, Osher Life Long Learning Institute hosts an all day Chamber Music Immersion event featuring master classes, performances, film, and dinner!  Schedule is below:

Special Segment (limited access):

3:00 pm – Lecture “Master Class Pieces”: John Prescott

3:45pm – Master Class Observation

Main Event

5:00 pm – Find Seating

5:30 pm – Concert: Alexander String Quartet

6:15 pm –  Film Screening: “ Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet”

6:45 – Q&A and Reception with the Filmmakers and Alexander String Quartet

7:00 – Dinner

To reserve your complementary spot for the screening of the film, follow the link below. On the right hand side of the site, under tickets, simply select “Film Only” to confirm your seat.

We would greatly appreciate the support of this production and hope to see you there.

Call for Interns! – Fall 2016 Semester

Documentary Film Institute Internships


DocFilm interns working at the McRoskey Mattress Co.


Terms of Internships: Fall 2016, meeting weekly. 120 hours to be completed during semester for 3-units of credit under supervision of DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens. 

How to Apply: Email brief letter of interest, summarizing your relevant skills and experience, to DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens at

Qualified applicants will be invited for an initial group interview.


Production Intern (1 opening)

Description of Internship: Work on various SFSU and Bay Area documentaries: lighting setup, studio and field shooting, sound recording, archiving, and transcribing. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. May be asked to assist with setup for Poetry Center events, some of which may be off campus. Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on various producing projects. Applicants that enjoy fast paced working environments and are willing to take initiative, think on their own are encouraged to apply.


 Social Media and Administrative Intern (1 openings)

Description of Internship: Identify and cultivate key social media relationships. Find opportunities for grants and partnerships. Work on various administrative tasks. Research and develop tactics and strategies DocFilm can adopt to build brand awareness and strong partnerships in the Bay Area. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on grant writing and research. Students with a passion for Documentary Film are strongly encouraged to apply. Students must have strong verbal and written communication skills and strong Word, Excel and PowerPoint abilities


Post-Production Intern (2 openings) 

This semester we are looking for 1 position to be focused on story editing, and another to focus on motion graphics and animation.

Description of Internship: Post-production work on various SFSU and Bay Area documentaries to include organizing footage, developing rough cuts with feedback from DF admin and various constituents, and motion graphics as needed. Applicants should be proficient with the Premiere Pro CC suite on a Mac OS platform, have experience editing short or feature length documentaries and have strong word processing skills. Highly organized applicants who can manage large amounts of assets and are willing to take initiative and think on their own are encouraged to apply. Applicants should feel comfortable with taking notes/feedback from the Director and Producers, which can then be translated into new cuts for viewing. Applicant may be asked to work occasionally on shoots operating camera and/or sound recorder, and to assist with production of annual screening of new VDC films.


Producer / Research Assistant (1 opening)

Description of Internship: Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on various producing projects. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. Work can include assistance with producing of various SFSU and Bay Area documentaries: editing, shooting, sound recording, archiving, transcribing as well as distribution, marketing and budgeting. Research focused on current non-fiction journals and conferences, identifying trends, topics, guests, etc. Research focused on development of future projects including but not limited to: Non-fiction Film Conference, TEDX event and the DocFilm Forum. Students with a passion for Documentary Film are strongly encouraged to apply. Students must have strong verbal and written communication skills and strong Word, Excel and PowerPoint abilities.


 SFSU Poetry Center – Potential for year long appointment

Production / Post-Production (1 opening: paid position $15/hour)

 Videographer / Editor for Poetry Center Live Reading Series & Digital Archive

Under the supervision of DocFilm Director Soumyaa Behrens, the videographer is responsible for attending and recording all scheduled Poetry Readings in the renowned Poetry Center Reading Series. Dates are as follows:

  • September 8 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
  • September 15 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
  • September 24 7:00pm – McRoskey Mattress Co. (off campus)
  • September 29 7:00pm – SFSU Fine Arts Gallery
  • October 6 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
  • October 9 5:30pm – ATA (O.C.)
  • October 20 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
  • October 27 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
  • Nov – Dec Dates TBD

Using digital technology, the videographer will record each reading, add bumpers and credits as well as perform basic editing (color correction and sound mix) and tag files to conform with protocols developed by DocFilm & Academic Technology for ingesting recordings into SFSU’s Digital Information Virtual Archive (DIVA).


  • Attend Poetry Center Events for purpose of creating video documentation of performances.
  • Export raw video masters (archival file) for each performance.
  • Export separate audio (MP3) file from video masters.
  • Create MP4 distribution copy with bumpers, credits, light editing.
  • Tag and label files in accordance with guidelines developed by DocFilm & Academic Technology.
  • Create select short (2 min) videos of “highlights” at each event for Poetry Center communications and promotions.
  • Transfer master and completed edited files to DIVA within one week of original recording date.
  • Weekly or bi-weekly meetings with DocFilm staff to report and problem solve potential issues encountered in course of completing duties.



Documentaries are famously long-duration projects.

In most cases there is an initial concept, a treatment or story outline, perhaps with bullet points or a list of potential interviewees. There is most likely a stated purpose, a point of view, and a hopeful outcome in mind, but no fixed script – the story evolves over time.







Jan Millsapps, Writer-Director
Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond  


Producers and directors find themselves spending months, years, locating and managing resources, gaining (and sometimes losing) access to vital subjects, engaging in considerable research (nobody wants to tell an incomplete or incorrect story), viewing and reviewing recorded material for its on-screen value, and juggling categories of subject matter to determine what belongs in the finished film and what does not.


Our first shoot: preschoolers at Chabot Space and Science Center creating their own solar system and performing as planets, asteroids, comets and the sun. This young woman played Mars.

The Madame Mars project began with a focus on women and Mars with the stated purpose of ensuring girls’ and women’s roles in future space science, space tech and space exploration. Forty-two interviews later – shot in eleven locations, resulting in more than a hundred hours of footage – we find ourselves immersed in editing, a gargantuan task made of many small, tentative steps, quite a few missteps and subsequent corrections, a few giant leaps of faith, and months of hard, hard work.

Documentary filmmakers must often search over time for their story, constructing and assessing many mental, paper and digital edits, identifying themes and connections that eventually solidify the concept into a coherent form, and determining the best way to present the material.

Eventually the footage begins to speak its own story; when that occurs, filmmakers must listen carefully.

The Madame Mars story that has emerged is bigger than women and Mars: it is a voiced commitment to ensure that humanity fully and accurately represents itself as we take our next big step into the universe. At the same time the story is smaller: from the hours of interviews, we believe we have found the voices that best represent our collective quest for futures in space that are representative of all of us here on Earth.

We have been fortunate to meet and talk to many from diverse backgrounds. Did we interview everyone on our initial list? Not by a long shot. But we feel confident that the characters you will see onscreen not only share the individual dream for finding one’s own place in space, but also a commitment to the larger goal of furthering human exploration of Mars – and worlds beyond.

Mars looms large over our story, a continuous presence in our collective consciousness from the earliest days of the space age, now extending far into our real, virtual and imagined off-world futures. Like all of those yearning for a red planet encounter, we are poised to see the fulfillment of our own Mars dream, as we take the final steps of our long, long journey.


We welcome Sreang Hok – better known as “C” – the Madame Mars team (seen here working with DocFilm’s Robert Barbarino). As he completes his thesis film at SF State, C will also guide us toward a final edit. 

Production/Post-Production Intern: Jumana Zahid

Interview by DocFilm Social Media Intern, Leslie Calderon

Photo Credit: Jumana Zahid

Jumana Zahid, 21, is an international student at San Francisco State University, preparing to graduate in Summer 2016 with a major in Broadcasting and Electronic Communication Art and a minor in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism. Zahid’s passion for visual arts, colors, and aesthetics brought her to San Francisco from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at age 17.

What inspired you to study in San Francisco?

In high school we had a science project. I decided to take an extra step towards it and make a movie, instead of a presentation. I loved the whole process; I loved it all the way through. Since then I knew I wanted to do something with media, visuals, cinematography and what not.

I started college thinking I wanted to be an anchor/reporter. I got into it my first year and decided it wasn’t for me. I shifted my gears around. News I didn’t like—it’s type of production. I stepped out of that and started doing videos and short productions. For the time being I’m going to be experimenting with all sorts of media until I know where to land eventually.

What was your transition to America like?

I feel like I was well-oriented when I came out here. It was easy for me to shape myself around the environment and get myself acquainted with the lifestyle. Thankfully I had the language. Watching tv helped. Growing up, I loved watching tv. I loved how colorful it was.

My mom always complained about me watching so much tv, “You will ruin your eyes Jumana. You will end up wearing glasses” — I eventually wore glasses, but I learned a lot about the culture and language itself. I’m glad that I did, because I feel more comfortable and in place now.

Which movies or tv shows helped you learn English?

I watched a lot of Disney and Pixar movies. They helped me learn, not only the language, but also to grasp the culture from a young age. My favorite movie was The Jungle Book.

Recently, I’ve been really interested in watching international films and documentaries. It gives me another perspective of how things go. There are plenty of things happening in the world that people aren’t realizing—things that I’m not necessarily aware of. I try to take myself on international trips by watching these films.

Did you experience culture shock coming to America?

When I first came out here, surprisingly, I didn’t have a culture shock. Only when I went back home, one year after, I felt it, I felt the difference. I grew up in another country and didn’t realize how different it was from where I would end up. Two places that are so different from one another, it’s hard to even compare.

It’s pretty much a life changing experience living out here. I always go back to the starting point and think “My god Jumana! You’ve been through a lot, and you’re still going.” I’m very proud of myself!

Do you ever feel homesick?

For the first three years I did not feel homesick, not for a second. I was so happy with where I was. I didn’t care about the problems I was facing just by living out here; I had a solution for everything. In my fourth year, it hit me. I realized I missed my family. I missed belonging to a bigger circle of people with so much love.

Also, I started to see my family grow. I didn’t realize that until I went back home last year. My brother was 11 when I left and now he’s a teenager with a raspy, wanna-be man voice. It’s like, “Who are you? You’re even growing a mustache now.”

I felt emotionally separated. My family was growing, but without me. I would see pictures and look at them as an outsider. It’s sad because I could’ve been there for the small moments: birthdays, hospital visits, picnics. But you know what? I know that eventually I’ll go back home and create new memories.


DocFilm Intern Interview: DAEWON KIM

Interview by DocFilm Social Media Intern, Timothy Winslow

1.Where are you from?
I’m from Seoul, South Korea.

2. What year are you in here at SFSU?
My first year at SFSU is 2010. I finished BA at 2013 and now, I’m 2nd year MFA student.

3. What are you majoring in and why?
My major is Cinema and the reason why I choose it because of a film, Duel (1971) which is directed by Steven Spielberg. When I was just ten years old, I watched the film and this film led me to the career path of becoming a filmmaker. An inanimate tanker truck was turned into a lively character, and as a young audience, I felt the infinite power of film.

4. What are your responsibilities in DocFilm?
I’m mainly editing footages for DocFilm.

5. Are you working on any other projects?
Currently, I’m making my own thesis film.

6. What do you hope to get out of interning for DocFilm?
I love to meet people and talk with people. It leads me to make a good connection.

7. Are there any documentaries you’d recommend?
I trust that a main purpose of documentaries is entertainment and delivering message. This is why I like Michael Moore’s documentaries. He is the person who makes documentaries as entertainment because of his cinematic language and humorous and his topics are always interested me.

Thank you, Daewon.