Teaching Tools

Introduction to Narrative Projects

Introduction to Narrative Projects

Posted by: San Francisco Film Society

Narrative filmmaking projects are often the most appealing projects to students and educators alike, as the majority of films that we see are fiction. Additionally, narrative filmmaking allows for students to be imaginative and to think outside of the box. Despite all of these benefits, it is important to remember that while teaching narrative filmmaking to young people nets many gains, creating high quality projects requires more effort than one might imagine. We encourage you to pursue a narrative project if that best serves your classroom, but make sure to be prepared! 

Learning goals 

Narrative projects are well suited to help students: 

• Develop creative writing skills 

• Develop interpersonal and professionally-relevant skills 

• Form relationships with people (both peers and adults) 

• Contextualize 

• Engage with a historic, cultural or social topic 

Final product 

Narrative projects can take a variety of forms: 

• Short narrative (usually 10 minutes or under) 

• Video poem 

• PSA or campaign 

• Adaptation of a story or book excerpt 

• Historical re-enactment 


In addition to the general elements of pre-production, production, and post-production, there are a few steps unique to narrative projects. 


• Develop script 

• Identify roles 

• Audition and cast actors 

• Select locations and plan shoots 


• Execute principal photography 

• Gather coverage 


• Record voiceover and select soundtrack elements 

• Add titles (subtitles, intertitles, and facts as relevant) 

• Find local festivals or organizations that align with the subject (if applicable) 

Browse the Lesson Exchange for specific activity examples. 

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