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

41 students are watching this class

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!

390 of 394 students recommendSee All

In this class i have learn bassic thing about short documentary. Also how to get naturality in your film and use the details around you. I really recommend this class. I really liked it and you don't realise that you have spent 54 minutes. This class is really worth it.
This class was awesome. I am looking into getting into documentary film making and this course was exactly the entry-level information I wanted. Tons of useful information, a teacher who is easy to follow and understand, an interesting "case study" in Coyote and Crow. All around, totally great class. Thanks!
Informative, easy to watch and understand. I loved the documentary. I definitely makes me want to see more of her work.
Jeffrey Haynes

Filmmaker, paramedic





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...

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