Create a Short Documentary Video Portrait Premium class

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!

172 of 174 students recommendSee All

I thought it was informative. Surprised to see such quality without a huge crew and lots of lighting equipment.
Fascinating topic and great presentation. Highly recommended!
This class is pure gold! Thank you Elaine!
Bryan Martin

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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 2013 Peabody, 2014 Emmy nomination and 3rd Prize in the World Press Photo Multimedia Awards. 

In January 2016, Sheldon received Chicken & Egg's inaugural Breakthrough Filmmaker Award. She was a 2013 Future of Storytelling Fellow, and named one of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film" in 2013 by Filmmaker Magazine and one of "50 People Changing The South" in 2015 by Southern Living Magazine. 

She is the co-creator of She Does, a bi-weekly audio documentary series that documents creative women’s journeys. She Does won a 2016 Communicator Award of Excellence from The Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts.