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National History Day How to: Creating a Documentary

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Presentation on theme: "National History Day How to: Creating a Documentary"— Presentation transcript:

1 National History Day How to: Creating a Documentary

2 What is a Documentary? An 10 minute audio-visual presentation of your event, person, place, or idea. You get to use still images, moving images, narration, and other types of media. Tip: Think of a documentary you might see on PBS.

3 The Basics of a Documentary Consult the Contest Rule Book for complete rules
10 minute time limit – including your credits. Must be student produced and operated. Any narration must be within the documentary. Access to moviemaking software: Keynote, PowerPoint, Windows Movie Maker, iMovie.

4 What does your project need to “do”?
Make an argument Tell a story Reveal change over time Consider historical perspective Provide context Ask questions Draw conclusions Find facts

5 How do I choose a topic? Brainstorm topics related to the theme.
Learn what historical resources are nearby. Think through controversial topics. Choose something you think is interesting!

6 How do I research my topic?
Start with secondary sources They help you understand your topic more completely. Will point you toward primary sources. Help you pick the specific themes and key questions you want to address and ask. Visit your local libraries and archives! Can I use websites? Yes, but don’t do all your research there.

7 How do I research my topic?
Primary sources! NHD defines these as materials directly related to a topic by time or participation. Sources can be both primary and secondary depending on how it’s used. Look in the footnotes and bibliographies of secondary sources to find them. Talk to a librarian, historian, teacher, or archivist!

8 Evaluating your sources
Not all primary sources are primary to your topic. Think about these questions: What type of source is it? What is the date? Who created it? Where was it produced?

9 What do I put in my documentary?
Does it fit the theme? Does it support your argument? Does it further the story you’re telling? Is it visually interesting? Visual information is the key to a documentary. Make sure your topic is well suited to a documentary.

10 Your “Script” Write a script: It will become the basis for your narration during your documentary. Introduction: Make sure your thesis comes at the beginning and is clear to the viewer. Divide your body into the sections that support your thesis. Make sure you have your conclusion. Remember to have credits. Everything must be done in 10 minutes.

11 What should my documentary look like?
Consider color, size, and legibility of the text you include. Build your images as you research. BUT, make sure the images you decide to include support your script and argument. Make sure you have good high-res images so they don’t appear pixilated on screen. Remember to include captions for any images, interviews, or video used so that people know your research. Consider your soundtrack. Make sure it’s not too loud. Have fun with it!

12 Documentary FAQs Who can operate the equipment?
Only the student(s) may operate the equipment. Who can appear in the documentary? Students are the only one’s who can appear as narrators, but interviews with experts or participants in the event are encouraged. Can you use clips from other films? Yes, with proper credit. They are not a substitute for your own idea. Can someone else narrate? No, but you can use pre-existing narration or sound clips, but not they must not be created with specific use for your project.

13 Your Annotated Bibliography and Citations
Bibliography: List of sources typed that you consulted in creating your documentary. Keep a working bibliography as you research. Annotations: Brief descriptions of how the source was useful to your research. For both annotations and citations refer use the MLA or Turabian style manuals. Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

14 Tips! Watch PBS documentaries. Or previous History Day winners.
Make sure your argument is clear! Outline your argument and write a script so that you know exactly what you will include. Include your research! It’s not just there for your bibliography. Content is more important than glitz. Judges should be able to find all the information they need in the documentary.

15 But, what if I have questions?
That’s easy, contact: Cheryl Caskey at or ext.4461. Or, visit: Or, visit: Or, visit:

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