Film Your First Mini Documentary | Theresa Khalil | Skillshare

Film Your First Mini Documentary

Theresa Khalil, Something Unique

Film Your First Mini Documentary

Theresa Khalil, Something Unique

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
10 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. What to expect out of this course

    • 2. What equipment you need for filming?

    • 3. Storytelling techniques

    • 4. Camera Shots

    • 5. Camera Angles

    • 6. Camera Movements

    • 7. Camera Fundamentals and using DSLR

    • 8. Mobile Phone filming tips

    • 9. Editing

    • 10. Summary and project

58 students are watching this class
  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

This class is designed to guide you to film your first short documentary. You will learn about the simple equipment needed, the storytelling techniques, the camera shots, angles and movements. 

Also  how to use your phone or DSLR photography camera or any other camera in filming.

No previous knowledge or skills is needed, just your passion and desire to make a film. 


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Theresa Khalil

Something Unique


Hello, I am Theresa Khalil, Arabic writer, documentary filmmaker, content creator on YouTube and more..

Art, culture and creativity are my passion.

Arabic is my native language and I have been teaching Arabic for foreigners since 2002.

I hold a master degree in documentary filmmaking and always filming and creating content for UniqueTV channel

I have 3 books published.

I would like to share with you my skills and my passions which will help you pursue your dreams and have a positive impact on your life.

Let's stay in touch!!!

- Learn more and get inspired by my lifestyle  on Youtube

- Watch inspiring documentaries and join an out of the box community on full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Your creative journey starts here.

  • Unlimited access to every class
  • Supportive online creative community
  • Learn offline with Skillshare’s app

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.



1. What to expect out of this course: Hi, I'm Teresa Alan. I'm a documentary filmmaker from Egypt. I started making documentaries as a hobby, and recently I finished my master degree in documentary filmmaking. I have a YouTube channel called The Unique TV sir, which I broadcast on produce low budget documentary films short worldwide. So in this course I will guide you into making documentary films. You don't need to have any previous experience. You will be able to shoot therms and videos, for example, documenting a family event. Ah, holy day or trip or a video for your log or YouTube channel. You will learn about the equipment needed, the basic knowledge about shots, angles, narration, techniques. And you will have a many documentary project where you can practice making a real document . So see you in the course. 2. What equipment you need for filming?: What equipment do you need when you're filming a documentary on a budget? Basically, you need a camera. You need microphones. You need some accessories, like tribal like lenses. And we will go over all the basic equipment you will need when you're filming your documentary so you can use any kind of camera. You can use this photography camera if it has the video option. It's not the best quality, but this would not stop you from filming. You can have a very good Phil made by this camera. Also, you can use your phone. Every smartphone now has the video option, and we will go through the tips and tricks off how to use your phone to get better quality . Also, I'm using these ill. Our camera. These are cameras. There are cameras that are designed for videos. They're very expensive, but you can also use the photography cameras that are mainly designed for photography. But they have this red bottom here that is ah for video. I would also some tips and tricks. You can use your DSLR photography camera in filming. You will need also some try puts. This is the gorilla. Try put. It's called gorilla because you see it can hang anywhere on a three owner column, and then you have many, many kinds off triples. I prefer the light tribal because I don't like to carry heavy equipment. But if you want, if you are a shooting in a windy situation and you need more high quality try. But then you can go for a heavy on high quality option. Also need to make sure that the head and the rotation off the tripod is easy and smooth, so I don't have shaky movements While shooting Andi. You can connect the tribal so easily. There is a plate. Also, this applies for the phone. There is a certain head or a plate that you can connect to the tribal and to the camera or to the phone, and it's so simple you just screw it and you have it connected to your trip. This is the Mona put. The Mona Putin is the one leg try, but if I may say and it's used in situations where you want to have stability while shooting, but at the same time you know that something will happen somewhere else and you need to move quickly and if you are having a tribal that is heavy to move, then this would be a problem. So having Amona put is very suitable for having a stable shot. But at the same time, you can have the access off moving from one place to or not now, to the audio equipment I'm using here. As you can see, I wrote Microphone on top of my DSLR camera. There are two kinds off audio equipment. There is the directional microphones, and there is down only microphones. Road microphone is a directional microphone, the one you see here on top off my camera because it captures the sound from one direction , the one in front of the microphone. So it's very good when you are making an interview. The only microphones is good when you want to captured or cup the sounds from all around the microphone. The H four n zoom recorder is an example off both, it's Ah, very high quality recorder. It's around the prices around the 300 euros, and it can work as a directional microphone. If you connect a microphone to it, you can connect Excel, our microphones that used XLR cables, and you can use the 3.5 million Ah Jack for any microphone to connect on the back, so it takes both microphones, and in this case, it can be directional. At the same time, we can use it as an Army microphone omnidirectional microphone and pick up the sound with equal gain from all sides off the microphone. You can also use your phone in recording the old you so you can see it's not complicated at all. You can use your maybe phone toe film on making a documentary very simple, and you can start filming today. 3. Storytelling techniques : So let's talk about the storytelling techniques when you are making a documentary or actually telling a story, even if you are documenting an event, this is also a story, so you need to think how you're going to tell this story which technique you are going to use. This started generation. This is a traditional style off storytelling, using an aerator whose off camera and never seen. I used this technique in my film Invisible, where I was shooting with Gabor, who is a born blind guy I was trying to discover. How does he imagine life? I was thinking that everything around this is about shape, dimension, light and color, how it feels like when light and color disappears when objects appear only and suddenly when you touch them, then we have the observational technique. This is a technique where you just let the camera roll and let the actions speak for itself . I used this technique in many off my films, and now we can see apart off my film on the way which I shot in Hungary with the Christian community, and this part is just observational, right? Another technique is the chapters divide the documentary into chapters or segments, each with its own title. It keeps it simple for you and simple for the audience. I use this in my film charmer. It was a film about people who are living in Sharm el Sheikh City in Egypt, and the film was divided into chapters chapter about the police in the city chapter about the old charmers chapter about the real estate in the city. So let's watch part of the film and see how I used the chapters way. We're a bunch of very, very young people. I was just 22 23 when we came, but I wouldn't start again. Enema looking in the area and another technique is the host. This is a style of storytelling where you learn the story through a guide or host. You see this person on camera and they take you through the story in their own words. This is usually used in documentaries about traveling. So I used this in one of my episodes or one of my videos and unique TV. So it's watch apart in this booth. Yeah, on the edge of tomato half Lesar matter has volume matter like a not half Malala cotton and that had been in force on hold with that kid and another technique Talking heads. This is a technique where you interview a lot of people and edit their coats together one right after the other. I used this technique also in my film charmer, so I was interviewing many people and I was eating the interviews one after the other. Let's see an example. It became a big city where a lot of these people who come here do not care about the place because all they come here is it's business and they have to work here or they need to work ago. There's not enough work where they come from. A shame available. Collison, Hollis, but another bank and See toe have you goanna special like maybe we have men that we have a national three and finally photo slideshow Photos can be a wonderful storytelling technique . As the same goes, a photo is worth 1000 words. Photos can be put to music, narration or coats for a sophisticated and compelling documentary, and I used this technique in my film. It goes on where I wanted to show the generations over the years and I found that using photos was the best way to do this. So let's see. - So those were some of the storytelling techniques you can use in your film. I would like you to think which technique is suitable for the story you are going to tell and remember, you can use more than one technique in your film. 4. Camera Shots: here you will learn about the basic camera shots you may use in your film. We will start with the extreme close up, which reveals certain characteristics and emotions that would otherwise go unnoticed. Then the close ups head to shoulders. They are meant to display more details, then the medium shot hit waste, and this is an example way. Then you have the long shot, or sometimes it's called full shot. It shows the entire object or human figure and shows the relation between the object and the surroundings. Now you need to think when preparing for your film, what kind of shots you a news in the scene and why you think this shock type is suitable in this specific case. 5. Camera Angles: here you will learn about the camera angles. We will start with the bird's eye. It's a view often object from above, as if it was observed from a bird's eye. Then we have the high view where the camera looks down to the subject from a high angle. This usually used to represent that the object is weak or vulnerable. Then we have the neutral level, or I live in angle and the camera is looking straight to the subject as if it was shot through a person's eye. Then we have the love you and it's shooting from below. The I live looking up to the subject, it usually gives the impression that the subject is powerful or great. Then we have the warm I as if the object is observed by a warm. It is also to show that the object is strong or told or giant. So those are the camera angles now, which angle you're going to use in the filming process, and what do you want to deliver through this anger 6. Camera Movements: camera movements here. I will introduce you to the basic camera movements that you may need in your film. We will start with the panning pan, left or right, and it's moving the camera lens to one side or another. Imagine you are the camera and you are moving your head to the left or to the right. This is the planning movement. Now we will see a quick example from one off my films. Okay, then we have the tilt up or down. It's moving the camera lens up or down while keeping its horizontal axis constant. Also, imagine yourself that you are the camera and you're looking up and then you're looking down . This is tilt up until down. Let's see an example. Then we have the only in or out this when the entire camera is moved forward or backward, and it's called Dolly because you can see this track that looks like the train track and the camera is moving on it. I actually didn't afford such equipment, so I used the skateboard in my film. It was a bit Pompey, but it worked. Let's see how I managed to do it. Find the Moshe had from more up till June for the find. The Moshe had more up till June for the ambush. In that, then we have zoom in, which refers to approaching the subject, making it looks bigger or zoom out when you are distancing from the subject, making it look smaller. You can use it to Matt Exume. You can use manual zoom, so those were some basic camera movements. You need to think as well what kind of movements you are going to use in your film. 7. Camera Fundamentals and using DSLR: Let's go over some camera fundamentals that are very important to know in general, no matter what kind of camera you have. But if you have a DSLR camera, then this will have more value. So we will start with the Isil. Aiso measures the sensitivity of the image sensor to light the lower the ice a number, the less sensitive it is too light. You will find this value in your camera under this turn. Aiso. It has different numbers. You can increase all decrees. So let's say you are shooting in a dark situation and you need to increase the sensitivity off your camera to the light so you can actually take the video in dark situation so you will increase the I zone sensitivity or the Eisa number. This has a disadvantage because if you if you increase the number two ah, high value, then the image may start to flicker. So you still have limit in your eyes so you can use the you can increase the isil number, but make sure that you don't lose the quality off the video. Now we move to what is called the opportunity. It is the opening off the lens through which the light passes you see in this diagram in front of you. This is the lens, and you see that the opening is small on the left, and then it starts to increase bit by bit, and you have the maximum on the right. It is calibrated in F stops this aperture, So the higher the F stop, the smaller the opening. You see that if it's 1/16 then it's very small opening while 1/1 0.5 at 1.4. Then it's a big opening. So if you have a higher F stop, this means the opening a small This will give you a darker video. This takes us to another definition, which is the depth of field. It is simply how sharp or blurry is the area behind the subject you're filming. So the lower the F stop, the larger the opening off the lens, the less depths of field, so the background is blurry. So when you have a big opening, the background is blurry. While when you have a higher F stop smaller opening, then the background would be sharper because you have a bigger dips, a feat now I will show you this example where I used in my DSLR camera F stop 2.8 and ice a 400 and you see how the lamp in the background is blurry. Then I changed. I made the f stop bigger. So of course I need to increase the I soon to get more light because the images dark but the background. The lamp now is more sharp. Now we go to the frame per second, another term that you must be familiar with. It's the number of frames being recorded per second. So usually when you are filming, you are using one of those numbers 24 frames per seconds 25 or 30. Then another term is the shutter speed, its declaration of time. Each frame is exposed to light. The higher the shutter speed, the more sharp the object is. You can tested with taking photos, so let's make ah higher shutter speed number like, for example, 101 over 500 won over 600 and try to capture something that is moving. You will find that it's sharp here, for example, this dancer we used a low shutter speed. So that's why when she was dancing. The dress looks blurry when it comes to filming. The shutter speed need to be won over 50 or 1/60 and the reason behind this is that they found that the video motion feels right when the shutter speed is double the free Marie, you don't have this jerky movements, so it smooths, and the best value is 1/51 over 60. So in filming, you have a fixed shutter speed 1/51 over 60. You can control the aperture depending on you. Want a blurry background? You want a dark image. You want focused background, and you can control the I. So for the light if you want more light if you're shooting at our situation, if you are shooting in a bright situation, you can also make the lens opening smaller by increasing the F stop. So those are the basic fundamentals off using the camera and the terms that you will need to use and change during filming 8. Mobile Phone filming tips: If you are going to use your phone and filming, here are some phone tips. First, you'll need phone Mount Try put the mount is this part that you will connect between the phone and the tripe I have here. My gorilla Try put so I would put the mount on top of it, and then I would connect my phone. This will give me more stability because you know that phone true things is always shaky, so it's better to use the tribe for a stable show. If you don't have the tripod, then you can simply use your arm elbow like this, and this would make your shots more stable. You can also connect camera lenses and microphone for better quality and different variety off shots. Here, I'm using the simple camera I have in the phone. You have two options. Of course. You have the image option taking photos, and you have the video option. When you select the video, make sure while filming that in your settings you have chosen the high definition. So here I have the Resolution 1920 by 1080. Also, you can check this anti shake option If you want the phone not to shake while you're shooting without any stability like tribal or your elbows, make sure that you are filming horizontally, not vertically, to avoid having those black parts on the left and right off your video. If you want to have your exposure locked and your focus, then use this open camera application. For example, if you are moving your camera your phone from one place to another, then you will find that the focus point change while moving, so this application will help you to lock it and keep it focused on one point. Also, you can notice that when you are moving your phone from one place to another, the lighting changed, and so the exposure change, so this application will help you toe also, look the exposure. You can also change that isil, and you can add filters, but we will add filters in the anything. Another step is to make sure that your object or the subject you are filming is facing the light. Don't forget to make your phone on the flight mood if you want not to be disturbed by phone calls or not notifications and message during filming. Those were some quick phone tips that you need when you're using your phone and filming your document 9. Editing: editing is a very important stage. Any editing program can work well. Toe makes life shots, interviews, cutaway shots, text music to get an engaging content Cut away shots means, let's say, for example, you are interviewing a mother and do you finish the interview and then you take some shots off her house off her with the Children, different shots. So when you are editing the interview, you can put those shots in between to make your interview more engaging. I use for anything at the premiere, but of course, you can use any editing program. There are free editing sources such as Windows movie maker Virtual Top Wax. A video marks. I'm movie for Mac. Also, there are some websites like you have image stock and photo stocks. You have also video stocks, for example, video blocks. You can use this website if you want to have some shots in your editing stage that you couldn't shoot by yourself. Also, as I must emphasize, this is not a course that will teach you editing. So I'm here just explaining the is think process. I'm going quickly over it, but if you need to eat it, maybe you can hire someone on Fiverr or you can take a course about how to eat it. I will take you in my editing process and other premier just to have an idea about the basic editing skills. So, first of all, you need to start a new project I'm using here at the premiere and you need to choose where you will keep all your files. Also a quick tip. After even shooting, you need to go over all the clips you shot. I watched them all and give a name to each one that represent the content. So this would make the editing much easier. So here I will name this project test and I will choose the high different I was shooting in high definition. So I will choose in the editing the high definition choice. So it's 1920 by 1080 pixel. This is the dimension amusing. And now I will start by importing the video files. I can use file import or can just use the shortcut import. And as I said, I have, for example, my clips, the film I was shooting recently and now you have two screens. You have one on the left, where you can watch the clip and see which part you want to put in your film. Or as I'm doing now, I take the whole clip. I put it on my timeline, and I can see my sequence on my timeline on the right screen. So the left screen is just for checking your videos and the right screen areas for watching all the sequences that you are putting together. This is a cutting to will, amusing to delete the part that I don't want from the video. So you see the scouting toe on the left. I cut where I want and indeed it. Now I will get another clip to add to the one I have. I can choose from here which part I want market in on market out. Let's say I want to start from when she was start digging. So this is my mark in, and then I will mark out at this point, and then I will take it and added to my sequence. Now we need to add a text so you can go to title here, the small icon and you can choose the text tool and write the text. Let's say, for example, I wouldn't name this film through the wall. I can change the font. I can position it wherever I want. Have lots of varieties. I would go for this yellow one. Then I center it and Texas ready. I can just take it and put it on top off the video in one of the video tracks. Now I want to add on effects. So I want the text to fade in Just right Click at the end of it. I will have the sub menu which was apply Devote default, transition. So now the text will not just show up immediately. But it will be fading in, which is much nicer. And I can do the same also when the text will fade out at the end When I wanted to disappear, this also can apply to the video itself. I can fade in and fade out there much off course, many other effects. I'm just here going quickly over the basic things you need in editing. Now I will add music. I will remember the file. You can listen to it if you want. Of course I know it. So I would just add the music in one of the older tracks. I will remove the audio off the video. Let's say that, Okay, now I listened. I'm satisfied with what I made. And now I want to make this into a film. So we will go to the export State file Export media, and I will choose with what kind of file I want. I want a high definition file and I will choose the HD 1080 25 frames per second because this is the frame rate I used when filming. I need to choose where the fire will be saved and I will call it clip. Now. Everything seems fine. So let's export. And now I can go to the folder where I exported the file and I can watch it in any media player. And this was a quick editing overview 10. Summary and project: So now you have this information about the equipment, the storytelling techniques, the shots, the movements, the angles and now it's time for you to go and make your first film. So I hope that this class will encourage you to make your first documentary because you can have much more information. But if you don't have the courage to start shooting, then that is something huge missing. So in this video, I will try to explain to you the project that you need to work on. This project is under the title Sound Before image. Simply, you need to go and record sound. Think off a topic that you want to work on, and this sound can be an interview with someone. It can be just environmental sound. It can be some people chatting, and then you need to think what kind of video or image you will have for this sound. I will show you an example off video. I made a short documentary where I also applied this concept sound. Before image. I recorded the sound. It was an interview with my friend who was at that time, 75 years old and she was talking about the first time she met her husband. So you can check how I made the video or the short documentary. And I hope this would be inspiring. But remember that you don't have to do something similar. You need to does something that is you that represent your own voice. So I'm looking forward, really? To see your projects. And I hope this class was useful and good luck are working. I sit in my office and somebody called me to tell there is a man who come to need information information off the stock exchange. And at that moment, it can in the introduced me. And, uh, I was very surprised to see such a nice, older man, but very, very special. He had something special in his eyes. It was nice. We talked together and, uh, I give him all the information you want. So you go and it came back. I don't know what he wanted because it did not need any information because I give everything. And he asked me if we could see each other and have a coffee together. It's what happened in a nice place on the ground. Plus and we talked. We talked about our life is life. My life and wait