East Montpelier: Past, Present, Future

The Third Grade at East Montpelier Elementary School studied ethnographic methods with Vermont Folklife Center media instructor, Mike Leonard. Their project - entitled East Montpelier: Past, Present, Future - brought community members into the classroom to be interviewed on camera about their experiences living in East Montpelier. The interviews were then turned into a documentary by the 5th/6th Grade Tech Club. 

The following lessons delivered by VFC staff provided the foundation for this project, emphasizing the importance of storytelling and practicing interviewing techniques:



Introduction to Storytelling


To understand the meaning and importance of storytelling


45-55 minutes


Anthropology, Ethnography, Ethics, Social Studies, Humanities, Storytelling




understanding and interpreting storytelling, analysis of content and information, critical thinking 


White board/markers, word bank, random objects for Autobiography of Anything, An Alien in My Town Worksheet


·      Introduction – How do we define storytelling? (5 min)

o  Ask the students to explain what they think storytelling means. 

o  Explain that storytelling is telling stories and that each story is a special way of sharing real or imagined events in a sequence.

o  Explain that storytelling is a type of folk art. Explain that folk art is something that people do as a way of expressing their culture and identity. It is special because it exists for everybody, no special equipment is needed, it requires imagination, and allows people to pass on information/wisdom.

·      What does storytelling consist of? (5 min)

o  Ask students what a story consists of? They should answer: Beginning, middle, end. Includes some sort of events that happen – often with a conflict/resolution. It includes a setting and characters.

o  Ask students to explain what kinds of stories exist.

o  Explain that news, radio, songs, pictures, movies, listening to your friend, following instructions, dreaming, walking from point A-to-B. These are all different types of stories that explain events.

·      What is the importance of storytelling? (10 min)

o  Ask students why storytelling is important.

o  Explain that stories are important because they are an effective way to:

§  Share information, make us think, laugh, cry, or feel a connection.

§  Teach us morals and the history of a culture – how we came to be

§  Build identity and a sense of belonging – who we are

§  Explain that everything has a story even if it doesn’t seem interesting – segue to 

·      POSSIBLE ACTIVITY: ‘Autobiography of Anything’

·      How do we tell stories? (10-20 min)

o  Ask students to share what it is they think makes a good story. What do they need to tell a story?

o  Explain that in order to tell a good story you need information and details. We collect information by asking questions, observing our surroundings, and listening.

o  Explain that another important part of telling a good story is how we present the story to others. Discuss different ways people share stories (oral, video, written, etc.)

o  Explain that good storytelling can also be a performance:


·      ‘1 to 10 in Many Ways’

·      ‘Walk the Walk’

·      Practice telling a story (15 min)

o  POSSIBLE ACTIVITY: ‘A Stranger in My Town’

·      Review


Introduction to Interviewing


To understand why we conduct interviews and to practice interview techniques


40-50 minutes


Anthropology, Ethnography, Social Studies, Humanities, Interviewing, Communication, Journalism, Language Arts


PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: None necessary; Introduction to Storytelling would be helpful


understanding communication, practicing conversation and interview, analysis of content and information, critical thinking 

RESOURCES NEEDED: Link to video 



·      Introduction - What is an interview? (5 min)

o  Ask students if any of them have ever been part of an interview. Have a discussion about what an interview is. Explain that an interview is when 2 or more people talk and share usually information – usually one person is asking questions and listening to the other one give answers.

·      What does interviewing consist of? (10-20 min)

·     Show video about interviewing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4pm_-GGyUw

o  After watching the video, have the students think about some of these questions: 

§  Why do we ask questions? So that people will share information.

§  How do we prepare for an interview? Research the person you are interviewing and the topic you want to discuss

§  How do we arrange the setting? Make sure there aren’t many distractions; make it comfortable for your interviewee

§  Why do we get permission before we interview someone? People’s stories are their property; people can be sensitive; we don’t want to offend others

§  How do we listen? Discuss good listening techniques – eye contact, show expressions that you are listening, body language, minimize distraction, don’t act robotic, let the conversation flow, use a loud, clear voice.

o  How do we ask good questions for an interview? 

§  Don’t ask yes/no questions. 

§  Follow-up with questions that are related to the answers. 

§  Make sure to ask relevant questions to the topic.

§  5Ws: Who, what, where, when, why, (and how)

§  Go over some of the list of Interview Question Starter Examples


·      Question Brainstorming

·      Choose the Best Questions

·      Practice a sample interview (10 min)

o  Host a sample interview between two adults in the classroom. 

o  Have the students analyze what went well and what didn’t go well in the interview.

·      Class interview practice (10 min)

o  Have the students break off into pairs or groups of three.

o  Instruct the students to practice interviewing each other. If they are struggling to find topics to discuss give them some options such as:

§  Hobbies

§  Vacation/weekend plans

§  Your family

§  Favorite TV shows/movies/books

·      Review








Intergenerational Studies at The Prosper Valley School

The Prosper Valley School 2nd grade in Pomfret conducted a month-long unit utilizing an ethnographic approach to study intergenerational learning. Combing forces with Media Instructor, Mike Leonard, the 2nd grade students learned useful interviewing and documentary film techniques and then matched those with film editing skills.

Watch a video of 2nd grade teacher, Barb Leonard, explain the whole process:

The following are two lesson plans that were used to teach the students ethnographic techniques. These are useful for the lower-elementary level and can be adapted to fit the needs of many different types of community-based projects:

The Prosper Valley School – Intergenerational Ethnography – 2nd Grade

Lesson #1 - Generating Content for Film Editing*

Objective: To learn why we need media and how to generate it for documentary film editing

1)    Introduction: What is our subject?

a.     Ask students to describe what they did (met and interviewed an intergenerational ‘special friend’).

b.     Why is it important to share this experience with others?

c.     What are some ways we know how to share information? (ex. Talking, writing, film)

d.     Why is film a good tool for telling a story? (provides both audio and video, technology is available to most people)


2)    Documentary as a tool: Show an edited video sample as a goal

a.     Define what a documentary is – “movie that tells a true story”

b.     What are the things we need to put together the documentary?

                                               i.     Define – media, clip, audio, video

c.     How do we get these things? (filming, photography, writing, etc.)

d.     How do we get good media?

                                               i.     What does good media look like? What does bad media look like?

                                             ii.     Preparation


3)    Using an iPad to film: discussion of filming techniques in order to get good footage for the final product

a.     How do we conduct interviews? – prepare your interviewee in advance, frame the shot, don’t ask yes/no questions, repetition is okay

b.     How do we behave when we’re being filmed? – speak slowly, loudly, clearly, look at camera or interviewer, smile – if appropriate

c.     Define: Wide, medium, close shots, camera movements, lighting, sound, tripod, angles, background


4)    Film interviews of students – two students at a time to work with Mike on filming. Other students can be practicing for filming or selecting their photos to be used for next week’s editing lesson

a.     Teach students how to use iPads to film – stop/start record button

b.    Teach students to use tripod/microphone

c.     Teach students how to save and access files for later use


*Advanced preparation required:

- Have students discuss the interviews they conducted with their special friends

- Have students select a couple of the most interesting things that they learned from their special friend



The Prosper Valley School – Intergenerational Ethnography – 2nd Grade

Lesson #2 - Generating Content for Film Editing

Objective: To learn how to edit media in iMovie to make a documentary film clip


1)    Introduction

a.     Recap and review of materials – discuss film clips; review any important language

b.    Discussion – discuss an overview of film editing software and techniques (iMovie, WeVideo, FinalCut, Premiere, etc.); why do we use these programs?

2)    Importing content –

a.     How to import film, photo, audio/video into iMovie (drag-and-drop; import button)

b.    What material and how much should we import? What are some techniques to organize content?

3)    Timeline and review panels

a.     What is the timeline? What is the browser? What is the preview window?

b.    How do we get clips into the timeline to begin editing? Audio and video?

c.     How do we rearrange clips in the timeline?

4)    Cutting clips and adding different types of media

a.     How to cut clips in preview window? How to cut clips directly in timeline?

b.    How to add still images over the video clips?

c.     How to add sound clips below video clips in timeline?

5)    Adding transitions

a.     Why are transitions used?

b.    What makes a good transition? What makes a distracting transition?

c.     How to add transitions in the timeline?

Walden Apprenticeship Program 2015-2016

Myles Jewell from the VFC worked with Walden Project first-year student, Grace Smart, during five one-on-one sessions to support her in developing a documentary about the Walden Project. First, they discussed the history of ethnographic and documentary film and the ethics of representation through the lens of ethnography. Grace then developed a project outline and shot list for her days of filming. Myles was also able to watch some of her initial edits of the piece. The collaboration culminated in Myles going to a site visit with Grace where he supported her in shooting a “day in the life” at Walden.  Here is a behind-the-scenes look at that visit.





Freedom and Unity TV Youth Film Competition 2015-2016

Project Description

Since September 2014, young Vermonters age 14 to 25 have been working on short films about Vermont and about their lives, passions, experiences, and interests. The filmmakers from Freedom & Unity: The Vermont Movie have been mentoring these young filmmakers in workshops around the state. The films they have made are competing for awards in the first Freedom & Unity TV contest. Below: a few of the students' films from the competition.

The Richer Whiter State contrasts the colorblind view of race that is commonplace in Vermont with the real stories and experiences of People of Color in Vermont public schools. When we move beyond colorblindness and actually see race in schools, this is what we see.

Vermont is one of the best states for LGBTQ+ people to live in. This video consults some of the stories and tips from local Vermont youth, narrated by Alex Escaja. This film was entered in the Freedom & Unity Film Contest and Awards Festival and wont the 1st Place Award under Contemporary Issues, as well as, the Judge's Pick Award. 

Breaking Binary, a film by Eva Rochereau, Becca Cottrell, and Fiona Nelson, looks at gender binaries. Breaking Binary won the Folklife Center Ethnographic Film Award at the Freedom and Unity TV Youth Film Competition. 

King Street: Our Voices 2015-2016

Throughout the 2015-2016 school year, Myles worked with a core group of ten students in King Street’s after-school program on a project called “King Street: Our Voices.” The students were all given iPads by the Burlington School District this year. Myles ran workshops with different approaches to media making. The students were tasked with using their iPads as media-making tools in varied forms. The first assignment was geared toward understanding visual storytelling, and students had to shoot a game of pool with different frame sizes. The second workshop focused on creating a narrative film imitating the style of a movie the students had recently seen. The third workshop delved into animation techniques, specifically stop-motion animation, while the final workshop gave the students hands-on experience with high-end production techniques and equipment. During the final workshop, students interviewed each other about the King Street Youth Center, and helped set up and operate the equipment during the interview.

Ethnography Lab at Harwood Union High School 2015-2016

Throughout the 2015-2016 School year, VFC instructors Myles David Jewell and Kathleen Haughey worked with two sections of HUHS' Media Studies class. Harwood teacher Steve Rand co-taught the Media Studies class with art teachers Krista Connolly and Sam Krotinger, and with the support of the VFC, wanted to develop a community-based project. The result was first a lecture on the approaches of ethnography to media, and how difficult representing reality is through a constructed medium, such as video. The second and third visits focused on inviting community members to visit Harwood to speak and reflect on their ideas about education. Students asked the community participants to reflect on both when they were students and how they think of those times now. The interviews were student-run with adult guidance and each interview was also audio- and video-recorded. The goal was to have students engage in a conversation with community members, to really hear and listen to their stories.

The second semester consisted primarily of VFC instructor Myles David Jewell's visits to the Media Studies classes and offering independent support as projects evolved. The independent projects ranged from a student-created PSA about his LGBTQ support group, to animations about depression, to a student going out in the community and interviewing local glass blowers.

Here is a behind-the-scenes look at the Community Day interviews:

Fayston Elementary Bob Vasseur Retirement Video

In February of 2016, Myles facilitated an interview workshop and then worked with students to execute an on-camera interview of Robert (Bob) Vasseur. Bob is a Vermonter who served as selectman for the town of Fayston for 57 years. Before his retirement, his grandchildren and some of their peers at Fayston Elementary decided to produce a video (to be shown at his community retirement party) about Bob’s 57 years of service. The students lined up numerous interviews with community members who had worked with Bob, as well as doing an interview with Bob himself. Myles and Kathleen worked with the students on interviewing skills, audio recording, and video documentation and editing.


A behind the Scenes look at Fayston Elementary Students at work interviewing Robert Vasseur:


The full video the students produced:

St. Michael's College Anthropology of Media Collaboration

In the fall semester of 2015, Director of Education, Kathleen Haughey and Digital Media Instructor, Myles David Jewell, co-taught Professor Adrie Kusserow's undergraduate Anthropology of Media class. VFC's Intro to Ethnographic Media Practices (Designed for Anthropology of Media) presented a lecture on the history of ethnographic approaches to media, and then engaged with the students to help them produce self-reflective videos about their relationship to media.  The goal was to have the students produce the work with their smartphones. They first made a short video engaging with the themes they were reading about in the course syllabus, and the students later embarked on a final project. See links below for some examples and breakdown of the workshop structure:

Project Description/Goals (based off of Anthropology of Media Syllabus):

  • Introduce students to basic techniques of video production and editing as well as ethnographic approaches to the medium.  

  • Broken into four sections (pre-production, production, post-production and distribution) the students will participate in the practical experience of producing two short videos, one to take place over the course of the class and one to take place after the four classes.  

  • Through the practice of media making, the students will engage with ethnographic approaches, methodology, and theory.  The focus will be the power and ethics of visual representation in anthropology.

  • Upon completion of their first video, the students will then create a longer video that will explore and document stories in the broader community by doing primary-source research and implementing the tools they have learned. VFC collaborators will be available for final visits to help students complete the technical side of their final projects.


  • Student smartphones and chargers (for video and audio recording)

  • Student computers and chargers (for video and audio editing)

  • Computers in St. Michael’s computer labs (with iMovie and/or Adobe Premiere software)

  • Headphones (depending on student need; VFC could potentially supply approx. 5)


  • Audacity (free audio editing software for any computer)

  • Garageband (free audio editing software on all Macs)

  • iMovie (free audio editing software on all Macs)

  • Adobe Premiere (available on computers in St. Michael’s computer labs)

Rocks to Product: Cornwall Elementary Fall 2015

Over two different weeks, the Vermont Folklife Center's Discovering Community staff visited Cornwall Elementary to offer workshops on interview techniques, audio recording, photography, and editing all on iPod Touches supplied by the VFC.  The goal for the Cornwall staff was to end up with Google slideshows that students would present in front of the community.  Cornwall teachers enlisted the help of the VFC staff to give the students basic guidance on how to conduct interviews, record the audio, take supporting images, and then assemble all the media into the Google Slideshow.  Before the students conducted their site visits, the VFC staff offered workshops on how to record audio and edit the interview into sound bites, as well as basic principles of composition for photography.  After the site visits, VFC staff supported students in editing audio uploading edited audio and supporting pictures to google drive, to then insert into their slideshow.  VFC's Ned Castle was at the final presentation of the student projects.


Project Name: Rocks to Product

Project Type: Photos, Audio put into a Google Slideshow

Location, date, time: 12/9/16, and 12/10/16 Cornwall Elementary

VFC Collaborator: Greg Sharrow, Ned Castle, Kathleen Haughey, Myles David Jewell


  1. Intro (5 min)

    1. Students intro themselves/names/have you taken a picture before

    2. Ask students about their farm project and what they are excited to learn

    3. Bring up exploration / storytelling - explain role of workshop is to learn about how to explore and do digital storytelling and that they will get to take photos and record audio!

  2. Storytelling - Visual and Audio (10-15 min)

    1. Explain that visual storytelling is similar to writing: setting, characters, action, details.

    2. Share Paintball Slideshow (in Media Examples Folder)

    3. Ask: What did they enjoy?

    4. Ask: Ask if they can list some of the narrative elements from the piece: setting, characters, actions, details.

    5. List the visual/audio elements--create two lists (on board) by having students raise hands and give examples of things they remembered from the paintball slideshow

      1. List #1: Photo content they remember seeing.

      2. List #2: Audio content they remember hearing.

    6. Explain two following storytelling techniques by pointing out things on the lists that they created

      1. Photography Framing: Wide, Medium, Detail / Close-up

      2. Audio Types: Ambient/environmental vs. Voice/interview

    7. Big picture: explain that they will have to explore and document the farms so they capture the same kind of things for the farms that are on their photo/audio lists from the paintball piece.

  3. The Ethics of Representation: (10 minutes)

    1. Ask student volunteers to explain the difference between fiction and non-fiction writing.

    2. Ask students to think about and explain where the story comes from for a fiction story vs. non-fiction story. Fiction: inside students head; Non-fiction: from out in the world

    3. Explain that it’s harder to capture the real world than you think - and that even when you are making a non-fiction story from what’s happening in the world, the media-maker must make creative decisions in their head.

      1. Dorothea Lange / The Power of Framing - Show close-up framing first and ask students to shout out things they see/feel about the photo. Then show the zooomed out version with other perspectives and ask them again. Draw attention to the differences and the fact the photographer has lots of creative power with how they frame. (in Media Examples Folder)

      2. Ned Candy (Audio) / The Power of Audio Editing - Play longer version first - then play shorter version with edits. Draw attention to how audio can be edited to change meaning and how again the editor has tremendous power to create the non-fiction story. (in Media Examples Folder)

    4. Big Picture: As non-fiction storytellers (ethnographers) we all have a responsibility to be curious and try to represent the world as closely as we can - knowing that we will still have to make creative decisions about the non-fiction story in our head.

IV. Camera / Recording Tutorial (10 min)

  1. Voice Memo Tutorial - Go through screen shots to explain process for using voice memo.

  2. Camera Tutorial - Go through screen shots to explain process for using camera.

(I had them spend time taking test photos and recording audio at this point - took a while and was impossible to control - I’d jump straight to next activity and they can experiment then.)

  1. Series of Photographs- creating an image sentence. (20min)

    1. EXERCISE:  Show sample photos of beekeeping and football to explain the different kinds of photos: close-up, wide, medium, detail, action, etc.  Have students try to identify these.

    2. How do we get these shots?  

      1. Moving around a space/ Exploring

    3. Quick tips: Steady hands, focus, framing (what’s in vs. what’s out)

(Skipped all above for time)

  1. Send them out to document something outside - Wide, Medium, Detail (10 min)

  2. Share in small groups

  3. Full group conversation - Any challenges? Anything unexpected? How might this relate to the farm project?


V. Audio Vox Pop (Didn’t do...ran out of time - might just have them record ambient/environmental sounds when they go out to do photos in the activity above)

  1. Introduce concept

  2. Ask question, record, pause, record, done.

  3. Have groups come up with a question

  4. Go out to record questions

  5. Share out.


VI. Final Regroup - TBD


VFC Collaborator’s Reflections

Syllabus, Full Document:



FINAL Project Requirements:



St. Johnsbury Academy Oral History Workshop for Audio Project

In the fall of 2015, Digital Media Instructor Myles David Jewell headed to the Northeast Kingdom's St. Johnsbury Academy for a one-day Oral History workshop. The VFC's visit to St. Johnsbury Academy was part of students' preparation for a podcast project, and the Oral History workshop focused on interview techniques. Below, listen to one of the student podcasts that came out of the project.


Project Description

This photojournalism unit invited students to participate in the creation of a newspaper whose primary mode of documentation was the photograph.  A three-teacher “editorial board” included Scott Miller, Rob Hanson and Sarah Woodhead.  For two weeks the students were a creative force: proposing stories in writing, then creating a shotlist, setting up an interview, and shooting their journalism assignments.   The project culminated in the creation of photo stories displayed on boards.


Project Description

Students in Nancy McClaran’s Grade 2/3 and Grade 5/6 art classes at Lincoln Community School spent an entire semester creating various types of work to represent the place they live: Vermont. Examples of the work included hand prints, drawings of Vermont scenes, papier-mâché bumble bees, self portraits, cut-paper snowflakes and a large mural featuring our most famous bovine mascot, the cow.  
Part two of the project was to exchange the work with students in a distant corner of the world – and ask for a response. The work was carefully packed in two boxes and sent to schools in Cambodia and Indonesia, where Scott Miller and Lindsay McClure were teaching.  
Currently students in Indonesia have made drawings to share with the Lincoln students; their drawings include homes, landscapes and name cards. Also, students in Cambodia are working on a variety of projects to share. Art Box is part of the World Story Exchange program.

¿Quién Soy Yo?

Project Description

For the third year in a row, students in Natalie Chaput’s Spanish IV class learned the basics of documentary filmmaking and then produced short films about their lives – in Spanish. Their films included a look at family histories, portrayals of their present lives, and reflections on their hopes for the future. The class culminated in the sending of the finished films to Spain to be viewed by a group of students who had recently visited Vermont.

The process of making short, personal films reveals both the individuality of the filmmaker and the culture in which he or she lives. Exchanging these stories internationally is an amazing way to learn about another culture from the fresh perspectives of young people.

Copper: From Elizabeth Mine to Telegraph Wires

Project Description

The students at Open Fields School started the year by taking on personae from Thetford’s 1900 census records as a way to understand more about their local history. They constructed miniature wooden buildings to create an entire historical village. Many of the students chose to represent copper miners. This led them to an investigation of the nearby Elizabeth Copper Mine in Strafford, Vermont. As the students considered copper as a local resource, they wanted to know applications for which copper was used on a national scale. That led them to research the telegraph and its copper wires. Even the small town of Thetford had a telegraph and telephone company in the late 1800s.

A group of six students had the opportunity to work with Scott Miller from the Vermont Folklife Center to design, film, and edit a short documentary that would tell the story of some of the cultural, economical, and environmental impacts the Elizabeth Copper Mine has had on Thetford and Strafford residents over the years.

The Price We Have to Pay

Project Description

“The Price We Have to Pay” was the culmination of the Castleton College Education Department’s Civic Engagement project for the spring semester. After brainstorming together in several community meetings, the students of the Inquiry I and Inquiry II courses agreed that the most prevalent issue they observed - and experienced - within their local community was financial hardship, which plays out in a variety of ways. Using ethnographic techniques, students interviewed community members about how financial hardship affects them, and the local community and how people respond to these struggles in diverse and creative ways. Students conducted audio recordings of their interviews, edited excerpts, and combined the audio with photographic portraits for the creation of a multi-media exhibition that strives to share the stories of community members in response to daily economic strains.

The project was a partnership with the Vermont Folklife Center and the Robert T. Stafford Center for the Support and Study of the Community.

Community Map Making

Project Description

This project began with the creation of hand-drawn maps by 3rd graders at the Marion Cross School in Norwich. After completing these intricate drawings, the students then went out into the community to photograph places on their maps that were important to them.

As a project affiliated with the World Story Exchange, the second phase of the experience was for students to share the maps and photos with their peers in Cambodia who were also participating in a World Story Exchange workshop to make their own maps.

At the end of the project, the students met one another virtually via an online “Skype call” - thus completing the exchange of maps and artwork in actual conversation.

A Journey Into Self

Project Description

This introspective film project asked students to explore one aspect of who they are, and show how it has a profound impact on them. The students began by writing a two-page essay on their topics. The essay then became the basis of a monologue for their films. Then, the students studied the basics of documentary film and critiqued other current youth-produced media before shooting, editing, and presenting their own films. Six filmmakers were chosen to present their work at the 2014 Green Mountain Film Festival’s Student Showcase in Montpelier.

View some of the student projects below.

Mud and Water: Flood Stories from Potato Hill

Project Description

In March, thirty 5th- and 6th-grade students at Lincoln Community School staged a theatrical performance about the impact of floods on Lincoln and other parts of Vermont over the past two hundred years. Stories depicted in the play were gathered from several sources: Lincoln and Bristol residents, flood-related media produced by the Vermont Folklife Center, and the students themselves. The 75-minute performance included music, dance, song, poetry, vignettes and stories.

The script was compiled by teacher Alice Leeds with guidance from local thespians Diana Bigelow and Jim Stapleton and from Denver playwright Ben Delon Lee. Current and former Lincoln students writing about the flood of 1998 and Hurricane Irene was included, as were stories of such local notables as Linda Norton, Harriet Brown, Pete Dominico, Mary and Dave Harrison and Bill McKibben. The many video recordings and books about Hurricane Irene provided further content as well as background knowledge for the 5/6 team. At one point, a scene in which students become parts of the water cycle offered comic relief.

A number of art forms came together for this project. Choreographer Joseph Schine collaborated with students on the opening dance piece. Musical Duo Swing Peepers collaborated with students on an original song for the play’s finale. Under the guidance of 5th- and 6th-grade teacher Donna Wood, each student created a framed collage from hand-textured papers to depict a flood-related quote. Art teacher Nancy McClaran worked with students on the set. Musicians Lausanne Allen and Rick Ceballos provided musical interludes and accompaniment for the students’ songs and dance.

Community Workers

Project Description

Pomfret School 2nd and 3rd graders worked with Scott Miller in a photojournaling project with their Community Workers Unit. Under Scott's direction, each student learned how to use digital cameras, video cameras and tripods as they ventured out to meet a variety of community workers in the Pomfret and Woodstock areas for one-on-one interviews to learn about the importance of the community members’ jobs.

The students' work is a part of a unit that classroom teacher Barbara Leonard has been doing for many years with her students. She wanted to enhance the project with each student participating in the interview process by taking turns in all three roles -- photographer, videographer and interviewer. The students took each role very seriously and embraced the opportunity to use the photography equipment independently. They did a wonderful job of capturing the important elements at each job site, including the audio/visual interviews with the video cameras and the physical space and details at each site through the lens of the digital camera.

The students worked with Scott to learn and do the editing of their own projects as they assembled their own 3-5 minute videos of each community worker. The culminating event took place at The Pomfret School on April 29th, when the public was invited to come and see the final product.

Documentary Film Camp

Project Description

This one-week camp invited students to learn the basics of making a documentary film. On day one, we brainstormed topics and chose to focus on a nearby farm in Pomfret, which we then visited, explained our project, and were happy they agreed to participate. Then, in conversation with the farmers, we began to plan our project and made a shot-list. 

We spent days two, three and four shooting video footage, using multiple cameras to capture misty mornings, tractor work, feeding the cows, mucking out, milking and milk transportation, haying equipment at work, weeding the vegetable patch, a puppy playing in the dust, and interviews with three generations of Bassetts. We students – and our instructor – learned a great deal during our week documenting the workings of a small dairy farm.  We learned about milk economics and government subsidies, migrant labor, invasive plant species, the relationship of cow feed to milk yield, and the benefits of barn feeding versus putting cows out to pasture.

The final day was the one day we had to edit our project: we reviewed our footage, made a simple storyboard, and then began cutting and sequencing the clips. The reward for a week of hard work was screening the film for Mr. and Mrs. Bassett in their living room.