Intro to Documentary

For the past two months at Freestyle, we were challenged to research either a significant person, group, place, idea or issue and document them creatively and truthfully. To gather our information, we studied books, articles, data and collected our own information through personal interviews. With the information we collected, we were instructed to write a multi-page, research-based paper in English and that was used as a copy for our multi-page magazine article in Digital Media. Finally, we were challenged to create a short documentary film with the existing, filmed personal interviews that were used for research and additional b-roll that we collected throughout the time period. This unit emphasizes narrative-style journalism. Below is the process I went through to create the final products, and the final products themselves.

My Documentary

For my documentary, I wanted to highlight the inequality in the quality of education that students receive in the Silicon Valley. After a couple of days of research, I discovered that gentrification has detrimental effects on education in lower-income communities. My inspiration for this idea came from my mom, Michele Sharkey, who works in the public school system of East Palo Alto, a city that is currently being affected by gentrification. Alongside help from my mom and outside research and observations, my two partners and I made our documentary topic: how gentrification affects public schools and the education system.

I have valued this project more than any other assigned to me in my time of being a student. This project pushed me, not only as a student but as a human being to tell a truthful story. Storytelling, I believe, is the most powerful form of art and it takes a lot of practice to do it well. While this project brought many fails and setbacks, it also brought successes and taught me more about my community, the issues within it, and the importance of being educated on them. This project made me extremely excited for my future because it opened my eyes and showed me the possibilities of what I am capable of if I work hard and correctly use the tools I was taught in this unit.

Documentary Research-Based Paper

In English, we were challenged to write a multipage, research-based paper on our documentary topic. We were challenged to gather different perspectives and stories through personal interviews and to make connections to secondary research as we accurately and ethically document our subject. 

The following is the final draft of my Documentary Paper.

JordanS-Documentary Paper

Documentary Film

To start of the documentary unit in film, we were challenged to create, shoot and edit a “mockumentary”, a satirical documentary, in the span of a couple of days in small groups. The following in my group’s final product, where we dramatized the character of one of our classmates.

After multiple lessons, the mockumentary projects, and watching a variety of professional documentaries, it was time for us to get into partners to create a documentary film, which we spend over a month working on. We were instructed to interview a minimum of four people with original interview questions and film the interviews with techniques we had learned over the duration of the unit. We were also instructed to film multiple series of b-roll which we gathered over a span of weeks. After filming was complete, we spend hours on the computer and in Adobe Premiere, editing the interviews and b-roll together to create our final product.

Below is the Documentary Film that I created alongside Hugo Biczek and Hannah Hershfeldt.

Documentary Post-Production

Interview Transcripts

Photo Gallery

The following are photos that were taken throughout the production process.