Division / Unity documentary

When researching a topic of your choice, look for the “story within a story” to bring your documentary to life.


  • 4-5 minutes maximum (try your best to be near to four minutes)
  • Voice-over must be written and approved by teacher (2-3 pages double-spaced)
    • Practice, practice, practice before recording
    • Do not rush, pause often
  • Documentary research must be cited and printed out/handed in before showing
  • It is fine to use videos from other websites to incorporate into your documentary. However, the video should include your newly created voice-over. Each video section should be no longer than 30 seconds in length at a time.
  • Primary sources (photos, interviews, video clips/footage, etc.)
  • Interviews
    • Ask insightful questions, no “yes/no” questions
    • Can be an adult and a peer
    • keep the time to a minimum (20 seconds)
  • Graphs, charts, diagrams
  • Images: Britannica Image Quest on MS Virtual Library LibGuides Databases
  • Music (to connect with the message, no words, instrumental that goes with the music)
  • Voice over information (be sure voice is clear, articulate, properly paced, inflection matches information) – be sure your voice-over is how you would “speak” it (no ums, likes, fill-ins PAUSE often
  • TEXT for segue / color change for segue / title slides for segue
  • Political cartoons
  • Read a book to help with understanding (if possible)
  • Credits (Bibliography with MLA-8 style citations) – EasyBib / printed copy to accompany presentation
  • Due: TBD

Due Dates:

  • Topic chosen / Research started:
  • 2-3 Primary Sources found / cited:
  • 15+ visuals: (with citings)
  • Voice-over script written:
  • Background music:


  • 1 minute context
  • 1 minute event
  • 1-2 minutes significance
  • 1 minute lesson learned

Questions to Answer

What created the division?
Is / Was there a history of turmoil before this current interaction?
What were the needs / wants from each side?
Is there evidence that the two parties met in attempts to resolve the conflict?
How much of the conflict is based on financial gains?

Was the conflict ever resolved? Fully? If so, what led to the resolution?
Besides the two major groups, were there subgroups brought together because of this conflict?
What was learned from the entire experience?
What did history show in the months / years following? Repeat of history? Lesson(s) learned?

Bringing your project to life: Primary/Secondary sources needed

A personal account of someone who lived through the experience will enhance your documentary. Whether it be a written account or an interview, look for a way to make your documentary anything but simply a content-filled showing that could simply be found online or in a textbook.

Project Rubric

Documentary rubric

How to create a documentary

Tell a story you care about

  • Choose a topic that excites you. You will be watching and reading a great deal of content. Thus, make sure you are ready, and committed, to tackle this topic.
  • Is it a topic that will keep the audience engaged?


  • Learn everything you can about the topic. There may be elements that are obvious and some aspects that are not well known. Read for characters and story lines that could be of interest to further research and be of interest to your audience.

Make a plan

  • Give your film a purpose. What is the point?
  • Sort through your research and create a plan. For a four-minute documentary you may want to think about covering two to three points with a proper introduction and conclusion. What is going to intrigue your audience and set it apart from other documentaries that have been made about your topic?
  • Write an outline

Create a shot list

  • Create a list of all pictures and videos that you would like to use. It is important to have a variety of shots but having too many will overwhelm your audience and your “story” will be lost.

Start compiling/producing

  • Begin dropping videos and pictures into your application and sort through an order that would best suit your story. Knowing that it will most likely change, determine the best use of your research and how it can best tell your story.

Write a script

  • Knowing that this will be a short 2-3 minute documentary, you need to create a timeline. Determining how you will introduce, share 2-3 points, and then conclude your documentary are vital for a successfully produced product.
    • 30-45 seconds – introduction
    • 2 minutes – sharing your story
    • 30 seconds – conclusion

Recording your Voice-Over

  • Clear, concise, and understandable.
  • No background noise / interference.

Choosing your background music

  • Fits the mood/theme of your film.
  • No lyrics will be less distracting.
  • Make sure the volume is not “competing” with your voice-over

Begin editing

  • Analyze what you have and sort through both your story and your research. Ask yourself, “What is the best way for me to tell my story with what I have?”
  • Make a new outline for your finished film.

Double-check for copyright/legal issues

  • Make sure you give credit to everything that you used in the making of this project. Create a bibliography of all sources and include a list in your conclusion along with a printed copy to your teacher.


  • Before presenting your documentary to the class, prepare a one-minute insight into your video. What was your inspiration for choosing this topic? What is the story you want to share with us?

Concordia assistance: https://ensemble.concordiashanghai.org/Watch/Eq74Psz6

Helpful Sites:








(main points taken from http://www.desktop-documentaries.com/making-documentaries.html)

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