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Video Project Two: Filming a Documentary


Many of the videos that we see on YouTube are reminiscent of the old home movies I grew up with. They can be charming, amusing, and entertaining, but no one is expecting to see it at the local theater. The reason? No story. Without a story, a video tends to feel like a a recording of a random (if entertaining) event.

Our goal is to tell a true story using the medium of film. To do that effectively, we will borrow some methods that have been developed by filmmakers. I do use the word "film" interchangeably with the word "video", but mostly out of habit- we will be shooting digital video.


"The goal of Video Project Two: Filming a Documentary is to learn how to create a short documentary using commonly available technology and then publish it on a website. You will be creating a documentary about a musician you know personally- preferably a student musician here at Oliver Ames High School. The essential question you will be trying to answer is "How did you chose your instrument?'"

Click here for an example. Cody R. (Grade 9) created this documentary using an iPhone and the online version of WeVideo.

Click here for another example. Ari W. (Grade 9) created this documentary using an iPhone and the iPad version of iMovie.

As we have discussed since the beginning of the course, read all instructions three times: once in the beginning of the project, once in the middle of the project, and once more when you think you are done. Revise the work each time as you discover tasks you either missed, or didn't correctly complete. As you will discover from reading the Assessment below, your grade depends on your ability to RAFAD (Read And Follow All Directions).

Project Navigation:
Home | Planning | Scripting | Storyboarding | Shooting | Compiling and Editing | Publishing


Students will understand that…

  • You can create a documentary film with readily available technologies. With no more than a smart phone (or tablet) and a desktop computer, and you can shoot, edit, and post your video on the Internet.

  • Creating a film is more than shooting video. Creating a film for the Internet includes planning (including storyboarding and scripting) shooting, editing, and publishing.


G – Goal (“Your task is…”)

Your task is to create a short documentary film for the world wide web using nothing more than a smart phone and a computer.

R – Role (“You are a…”)

You are a documentary filmmaker, and you are exploring the question of how young musicians choose their instruments.

A – Audience (“Your audience is…”)

Your audience is other people your age who are interested in music and the people who play it.  

S – Situation (“The challenge involves dealing with…”)

The challenge involves dealing with the creative possibilities and technical limitations of consumer-grade video production tools.

P – Product, performance, and purpose (“You will create a ___ in order to ___”)

You will create a five minute documentary film  in order to learn the basic process of planning, writing, storyboarding, shooting, editing, and publishing a video on YouTube. You will then embed this video into  one of your web pages.

S – Standards and criteria for success (“Your performance needs to…”)

Your performance needs to reflect your ability to apply your understanding of the full range of skills needed to create a film.  



Q: I am unhappy with my grade. Is there anything I can do?

A: Yes. Go back, correct all errors and omissions, and resubmit your work after school, Monday through Thursday. It will only take me a moment to re-grade your work. I will raise your score if you have fulfilled all of the requirements, as long as you resubmit the work in a reasonable amount of time.

Q: I want to do this project using a different application. Can I do that?

A: Yes and no. Yes, you can use iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Sony Vegas, Adobe Premier, Avid Media Composer, or anything else to produce the documentary. No, I can't give you any technical support when you run into difficulties- which you will. If you are willing to accept those terms, and fulfill every requirement, you may use the video production platform of your choice.

Q: I would like to interview a student athlete instead of a student musician. Can I do that?

A: Yes, but ask my permission first. The requirements will remain the same. Instead of filming a musician playing their instrument, you are required to film the athlete engaged in their sport.

Video Project Two: Why I Chose Guitar by Cody R.
Video Project Two: The Beginnings of a Musician Ari W.