C-SPAN’s Documentary Contest

          I have just touched on some of the different genres that you can employ when creating your own videos for learning: commercials, public service announcements, movie trailers, etc. A documentary can be one of the most challenging because you have to extract the story as it unfolds through your interviewing and it may not go in a direction that you had planned. You can, of course, make carefully scripted historical documentaries, “you are there” kind of productions. But to really go out and solicit people’s opinions, balance points of view, and document your subject requires some journalistic thinking on your feet – on site and at the editing station.
2007cspan_4     C-SPAN’s Student Cam national student documentary contest offers middle and high school students an opportunity to share their observations in a  maximum 10 minute video documentary exploring an issue that matters to them. Teams of up to three students will be eligible for forty-five prizes totaling $25,000. All awards are monetary and some include money for the school to buy equipment with. Submitted documentaries may then be shown on C-SPAN or be made available on their website.
     The rules stipulate that each entry MUST use C-SPAN footage, either recorded off the air or from their archives. That may seem odd at first, but this is a good opportunity to emphasize fair-use guidelines to students as a right in education. Documentaries must be received by March 30, 2007.
     C-SPAN also offers plenty of advice and video examples, including last year’s winners and an interview with faculty advisors. A bit like AFI’s five step program, they have a nine point list of things to keep in mind for your documentary.
     What’s on your students’ minds? Global warming, cell phones in school, learning via video games, tatoos?

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