Documentary Lens Lesson Plan for “Just One Big Mess”: The Halifax Explosion, 1917

ACTIVITY 4: Exploring Filmmaking Techniques

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ACTIVITY 4: Exploring Filmmaking Techniques

In preparation for this activity, you can summarize for your students, or have them read, the following sections of the “Behind the Camera” guide at the Documentary Lens Web site: “What is a Documentary?”, “Preparing to Film” and “The Art of the Interview" (in the "Shooting the Documentary” section).

Ask students to form small groups to discuss how the filmmaker, Cheryl Lean, helps them understand the impact of the Halifax explosion on the people who experienced it.

  • What techniques does the filmmaker use to create an impact on her audience?

  • What are the different ways that Cheryl Lean “tells” the story of the Halifax explosion?

  • How effective were the personal stories, the sounds, the artwork and other elements in the film in creating an impression on the audience?

  • What symbolism does she include? What effect does this have on the telling of the story?

After the group discussions, ask students to prepare a brief written or oral presentation on how one of the filmmaker’s chosen techniques contributed to the overall effect.

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