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Create a Short Documentary Video Portrait

Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Documentary Storyteller

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11 Videos (54m)
    • Introduction

      2:36
    • Preview the Film: Coyote & Crow

      6:29
    • Approach

      3:17
    • Equipment

      3:02
    • Subject Prep

      2:45
    • Shooting

      12:08
    • Editing

      7:06
    • Watch the Film: Coyote & Crow (with Director Narration)

      6:08
    • Watch the Film: Coyote & Crow

      6:29
    • Pro Tips: Pitching Your Work

      2:18
    • Closing

      1:22

About This Class

How can you structure, shoot, and share your best story? Join filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon for a tactical, inspiring class on balancing artistry and authenticity in documentary video portraits and short films.

Covering every stage of her creative process, you'll go behind-the-scenes as she films a video portrait of Brooklyn-based musicians Coyote & Crow. Bite-sized lessons cover:

  • storytelling: discovering and researching your subject
  • single-camera shooting: tips for capturing visuals and audio when it's just you
  • polish: editing tricks for rhythm, pace, and style
  • pitching: advice on reaching out to commissioning outlets and brands

You'll learn how to create the kind of character-driven video portraits that distinguish great filmmakers — the films that turn into Vimeo Staff Picks, New York Times Op-Docs, film festival shorts, and more.

This 55-minute class is perfect for filmmakers, documentarians, journalists, and all creative storytellers eager to craft compelling narratives about the stories all around us.

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We recommend that students have a basic technical knowledge of their camera and equipment, but all levels are welcome!

294 of 298 students recommendSee All

Fantastic intro into the process with a unique step-by-step approach to the decisions that she went through. Came away inspired :)
very nice look at what makes up a good short documentary film.
amazingly beautiful photography. great subject. lovely music. Wow!
Andy Burton

Abolition Reformer

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Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Documentary Storyteller

Elaine McMillion Sheldon is a Peabody award-winning documentary maker, visual journalist and media artist who explores themes of identity, roots and change. Sheldon's film and interactive work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, from the New York Film Festal to International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam.

In 2013, she released HOLLOW an interactive documentary that examines the future of rural America through the eyes and voices of Appalachians. Hollow received a 2...

See full profile