Tech skill area: Historic Documentaries

Project - Build a story about an event in history by interviewing an individual who lived through this event.

Doc setup

History is often more interesting when we can hear the story from someone who lived through the event. Find a relative, friend or neighbor and ask them if they have lived through any interesting historic events. Ideas might be any war events, disasters, medical scares, elections... IF they are willing to help you, ask them to help you figure out which questions might be interesting to ask on camera.

Check your filming by doing a test for ~30 seconds. An interview can be ruined by low audio that can't be fixed. Do a sound check, check out a Mic or put the camera close to the speaker.

You can be in the frame or not. decide if you want to be next to the interviewee or across from them. If you are not in the frame, do one shot of yourself so the viewers will know who is asking the questions.

Find resources from the Internet to tell more about the story, facts, maps, photos... You will cut these into the video between the questions so your production is not just one long shot of one person.

In iMovie separate out the audio from the video where you want to insert the images. This will keep the interview going with the voice.

Conducting the Interview suggestions

Let your interview subject know that this is an important project and that you are very interested in his or her personal experiences. Treat the interview as serious work. After you ask a question, wait respectfully for an answer. (Don’t be afraid of silence, it may take your subject a moment or two to compose an answer) Look directly at the person you are interviewing. Nod and smile to show you are listening and understand the story. If the subject says something you don’t understand feel free to ask for clarification. Remember it is your job to get this story. No one else will talk to this person and this is your only chance to do it right!! World War II veterans will not live forever. You will record this person’s stories for their family and all humankind to share.

Interview Tips

  1. Introduce yourself and remember to call your subject by his or her name.
  2. Being able to hear your subject is very important. Be sure you can hear and if you can’t you need to ask them to speak a little louder.
  3. Don’t ask your subject "yes" and "no" questions. You interview will be much more interesting if you ask questions like "what were you thinking about when…" or "Please describe what it was like to…" Be sure that the subject can hear the question. This is no time to be shy.
  4. Ask you subject if they would like a drink of water or would like to stand up and stretch. Voices can become dry and knees can become stiff when you are almost 80 years old.
  5. You want your subject to be able to relax and tell their best stories. Your clothing or habits should not distract your subject. You should be neatly dressed in comfortable clothes. Do not pick your nose, clothing or anything else. Do not stare off into space.
  6. Be sure to keep the interview rolling along by asking questions. If you feel your subject is rambling then politely say, "could I ask another question?"
  7. Be sure to use your best manners and say "Thank You" when the interview is over.
  8. And most importantly…remember to have fun!

Interview Skill: Active Listening

If you find that your interview subject needs to be reassured that you are listening and understand his or her story, try to paraphrase (repeat in your own words) and important part of the interview. This will let the storytellers know that you are connecting with them and their stories.




• Students will:
_understand how history unfolds in individual lives

–how to conduct a good interview

_How to extract audio and cut in other information sources

_How to use Ken Burns effects to make your still images more interesting

• Have a fellow student check your work

•Post your video to your web site

Project Examples



desktop - The part of the finder that gives you the visual of files, applications, folders and image.

doc - the area on a Mac where shortcut images to many applications you may use sit.

Home page