Collaborative Documentary

In the Collaborative Documentary Social Impact Studio (VM 331x20 / SI 300), students learn the fundamentals of collaborative design and documentary production skills, and are challenged to apply their art and craft in direct collaboration with members of the community.


Course Information

Visual & Media Arts

Theodore "Regge" Life


Elias Perea, Titus Christian, Jabari Martin, Rayquan Mason, Rahsaan Peters, Will Dunn

The Collaborative Documentary Studio invites students to co-create a non-fiction story about the impacts of violence on communities of color in Boston, in collaboration with formerly incarcerated men connected to the organization Boston Uncornered. Members of Boston Uncornered will join the class each week and work alongside Emerson students to tell powerful, authentic, and purposeful stories that can impact policy and decision-making.

Emerson students and learning partners sharing a meal at Boston Uncornered

A Look Inside the Co-Creation Process

“Being in this class has been a life-changing, eye-opening, powerful, and very emotional experience.  Documentary filmmaking is literally my favorite thing in the world, and I love learning about new communities and understanding cultures different from my own. Uncornered’s work changes the course of the lives of the people they are mentoring. The more people can understand how important it is to have mentors, and a positive role model to look up to, the more they’ll see that the way that gun violence is portrayed and dealt with needs to be changed.”

Eliana Rosenthal, Spring 2023 Studio Assistant


This course was the first Social Impact Studio to bring together Emerson College students with Learning Partners from Uncornered. While the previous semester of the Collaborative Documentary studio, which took place in Spring 2022, had worked with parents from the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute’s Survivors Network, this semester we engaged with an organization whose work involves mentoring the people who have contributed to, or are on a path toward contributing to community harm. Uncornered calls these individuals “Core Influence Catalysts.” Each week, three Catalysts joined us in class, along with mentors from the organization. 

“The guys we work with at Uncornered, we call them Core Influence Catalysts, guys who were driving violence in these communities. So we're trying to take the guys that are violent and turn them around to be the answer to the narrative of gun violence. So for the guys in the class, we brung GED candidates and high school candidates down to Emerson. That's never been done before, where you get a GED but you get to sit on a college campus.”

Learning Partner Will Dunn, Uncornered


Over the course of the semester, the Emerson students and learning partners from Uncornered worked closely together, building relationships and beginning the work of producing a documentary about the organization and its frontline intervention work. Highlights from their interviews were shown on May 2, 2023 at the semester’s Peace in Process event, and the work continues in Fall 2023’s Collaborative Documentary studio. 

"Even though what you're going to see today is still very much a work in progress, it's a work that comes from the depth of the soul of this organization and the partnership that they engendered from my students."

Instructor Theodore "Regge" Life at Peace in Process

Spring 2023 - Documentary Studio Participants

Studio Contact

Are you an Emerson student interested in enrolling in this course in the future? Please contact to learn more!

Spring 2023 - Documentary Partner