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Create a Short Documentary Video Portrait

Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Documentary Storyteller

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11 Videos (54m)
    • Introduction

    • Preview the Film: Coyote & Crow

    • Approach

    • Equipment

    • Subject Prep

    • Shooting

    • Editing

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

    • Watch the Film: Coyote & Crow

    • Pro Tips: Pitching Your Work

    • Closing


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.


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

317 of 321 students recommendSee All

This is one of the best and most concise well-rounded online classes I've ever watched. Elaine makes everything seamless. I love the way she humanizes everything that she shots. I would definitely recommend this to a friend!
Thank you for this great class, really interesting! :)
I actually joined Skillshare just to take this course. I absolutely loved it! I would also say this is useful if you need to make an application video or a profile on your own business. I hope this instructor does more courses along those lines. It was beautifully shot and you really get inside the mind of a documentary film maker. I feel like this instructor truly planned what are necessary considerations to have and didn't include redundant information like other courses. This is honestly pretty cool to watch even if you have no intention on making your own film, because it's just a neat look into a filmmaker/journalists world. The Creative Nonfiction course she recommends in the links is really good as well! I hope this instructor makes expanded courses. I could use more help with editing. Thank you!





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