Page 1

International Documentary Programs One of the fasting growing avenues for study abroad is short term, facul-

ty-led travel programs. A professor who is interested in taking a group of students overseas can create a class within their department and travel during a traditional break period. Students are particularly enthusiastic about international opportunities where they are led by a trusted professor, can travel with classmates, and will earn credits towards their major. Many schools have now developed a streamlined process through the study abroad or service learning offices to get these programs approved and running in a timely fashion.

It is a worthwhile endeavor, but coordinating a travel course can be a daunting task for faculty with already full course loads. Media professors who want their students to use the opportunity to produce quality media while overseas are presented with added complications. Aiming to ease this burden and assist in making more travel course ideas a reality, Actuality Media works individually with schools, departments and professors to develop custom international programs.


Although each supervising faculty member sets out the goals for their custom program, we

encourage a focus on social documentary content. Partnering with nonprofit organizations or grassroots social entrepreneurs in-country for each student project provides meaningful subject matter to explore while enriching the cultural experience. Students truly get to know what life is like from a different perspective. Producing a short, character driven documentary about the work of a local changemaker has the added benefit of allowing the students to give back to the community they visit. Their stories can raise awareness of individuals and organizations who are solving chronic social or environmental problems and can lead to various types of impact.


For all custom programs we provide or

arrange the following elements, based on the needs and preferences of the supervising faculty. All elements listed below are included as part of the student program fee.

• • • • • • • • • • •

pre-departure preparation materials in country orientation student and faculty housing group classroom and meeting facilities up to three group meals each day round trip airport transfers in country local public transportation changemaker subject research translations services legal forms in the local language local cell phone service

• • • • • • • • • • •

visa documentation and assistance group cultural excursions required production equipment documentary instruction support travel insurance, if not by University 24/7 emergency assistance in country program photos for personal and school use student recruitment materials assistance with drafting university proposal assistance with syllabus development assistance with schedule development

Location As part of the initial discussions

with University partners, we conduct extensive location research on all potential sites and publish reports for review and approval. Whether you have a country in mind or are still looking for the right destination, it is worth noting that our program is most successful in non-traditional, still developing countries. The students find the cultural immersion to be more rewarding, the program costs are kept to a minimum, and the changemakers we work with really value the access to media materials. Past sites include Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Columbia, Thailand, Kenya and Turkey, with new locations being added each year.

Production Process One of the biggest challenges of media travel courses is how to enable students to create quality videos while working outside of their comfort zones, under severe time constraints. Through years of conducting programs in varied environments around the world, Actuality Media has developed a production process that allows students to use their limitations to their advantage.

With a focus on character-driven visual storytelling, our lesson format is similar to the ‘just in time’ teaching method. Students learn just enough to complete the pending assignment, and all lessons directly build upon each other with several key milestones. Students are encouraged to focus on one main character for their documentary. They identify the key conflict and arc they want to reveal in their story. A detailed story outline is written prior to shooting, based on a distilled version of Hero’s Journey structure. Students are conditioned to shoot ‘scenes,’ which is reinforced through dailies critiques. Editorial consists of restructuring those scenes to find the best story. When developing a custom program, supervising faculty can choose to adopt as little or as much of this production process as they wish.

Student Fees

The cost of a custom program is calculated on a per student basis, and covers most expenses

in-country. The total program fee varies based on location, length, and goals, but on average is less than $100 USD per program day. For example, the per student program fee for a ten-day program in Guatemala is $900 USD. The per student program fee for a 28 day program in Cambodia is $2650 USD. These program fees are inclusive of all the elements listed on the logistics page. Airfare and visa fee are not part of the program fee and will need to be budgeted additionally. Students will want to bring some spending money for souvenirs, snacks and drinks during the program but the amount is discretionary. With a minimum number of eight traveling students, lodging, meals, and in-country transport is provided for one supervising faculty member at no additional cost.

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of designing a custom program for your University group, please contact us at or +1-503-208-5042 to request a proposal.




Custom Program Ebook  
Custom Program Ebook