Make a 1-minute Documentary

Weekend Video Projects

In filmmaking, you learn by doing. Weekend Video Projects inspire our readers to get out of the house and shoot something with their smartphone or camera. If you end up shooting something based on our tips, please share your work with us!


The Inspiration: 60 Second Docs by Indigenous Media

There is a great YouTube channel called 60 Second Docs that produces exactly that: 1-minute documentaries highlighting the lesser-known pockets of the world we live in. They are concise and brief and yet if you were to browse the videos on their channel, I guarantee that you will find a video about a subject you had no idea existed. Below are some of my favorites, especially “Grandma Gamer”!

Video: Therapy Pig – 60 Second Docs


Video: Grandma Gamer – 60 Second Docs


Use the filmmaking process to learn something new

Are there any topics that you could produce a short 1-minute documentary video about? Is there anything you read in the news recently that you wish you knew more about, or that you couldn’t wait to share with your friends? You don’t need to be an expert on it right now; you can use the filmmaking process to learn. The awesome thing about being a filmmaker is that you are constantly learning new things whether it’s by making films about a particular subject or simply to keep up with technology. Your video doesn’t have to be high quality like 60 Second Docs; you only need to tell a great story and keep your audience engaged.


Some ideas for your 60 second documentary:

  • A unique thing about the city or community you live in
  • A family member or friend with an interesting hobby or occupation
  • A local business that is doing something unique
  • Highlight a cause that interests (or angers) you


Weekend Video Project Rules:

  1. Have fun! These video projects are not supposed to be a chore. You are getting hands-on experience and making it fun.
  2. Not an expert on the subject yet? Do research before you start filming. Knowing key facts will also help you prioritize what should be in the video.
  3. Videos do not have to be high quality
  4. If filming with a smartphone, shoot horizontally!
  5. HAVE FUN – yes, it’s the second time mentioned because it’s that important.
  6. Optional: Share your work with us! Send us the Youtube or Vimeo link. We would love to see what you create.

Read our article on The Elements of a Good Video.


Valerie is a freelance filmmaker, video editor, and photographer based in Honolulu, Hawaii.

8 Replies to “Make a 1-minute Documentary

  1. I thought making films some this very complected. I found that can be learn very easy .. i like the review and for sure I will keeping ur page marked for frequent visits!

    thank you for sharing !

  2. When you’re uploading your video to YouTube does it have to be filmed in a special format or anything? Or can I pretty much upload anything that I want to share directly from my phone? I have a Samsung S6, but I’m kind of technologically inept.

    1. Hi Craig! I’m not entirely sure how it is on Android phones, but the YouTube app has a feature where you can upload videos directly to their website. My suggestion however is to always edit your videos in a video editing program first. There are a lot of options for Android; just do a search in the Android app store!

      If you’re sure you don’t need to edit before uploading and you’re getting some error, you might want to at least use an editing app anyway to simply import and then export it because editing apps will usually output a file that is ready for YouTube.

      Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any other questions. Maybe it can be a future article that will help others too. 😀

  3. Great post Valerie, you make it look so easy to perform. I have always been kind of afraid to create video documentaries, it always seemed to be for professionals, but after your explanations, I will give it a go.

    Thanks for sharing.

    John ツ

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