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How to make your own Ob Doc
(Observational Documentary Film)



That’s you! Show us what your life is like.



  • Use a phone or iPad as camera set to VIDEO

  • Film yourself, hold cam out at arms length with cam on selfie setting


  • Prop up cam on something, table, chair, car roof, tree


  • Get a friend to follow you with the cam

  • You can talk to the cam, tell us what is going on


  • pretend cam is not there and just do your thing 


(both are good) 



  • Best to hold cam sideways (landscape) not vertical (portrait, like TikTok) because it will look good on cinema screen

  • Also best to ask a friend/brother/sister your age to hold cam, rather than mum or dad (should be young person’s POV, not adult’s)



The cam mic is very good and will hear you talking, singing, laughing etc

BUT it struggles with loud background noise like A/C, traffic, TV/radio blaring, so move away from such sounds if you can when filming

If you have to have loud bg noise - e.g. demonstrating ride on lawn mower - then SHOUT!



Don’t worry if cam angle is a bit wonky, nobody cares

Don’t worry if the dog knocks the cam over, or your forget what you were going to say or something goes wrong

Ob docs are not meant to be perfect and professional but are meant to look real, show real life (and in real life things go wrong). How you react to things going wrong tells us more about you than a perfect script!




  • Use iMovie (on iPads or iPhone) to select and trim good bits and put together in order

  • Ob docs work best with simple editing, just interesting bits bumped together (no need to add music and titles etc)




  • Students upload completed films to a Google drive from home (or school) - teachers can then download, preview and help finish, then upload to GFF for selection and screening plans - no USB's and file conversions needed!

What do I film?

This is your short film about something you care about, enjoy doing, a relationship with a friend, family member, pet or animal, a special place you like to go or a thing you like to do (or maybe hate doing but have to - like helping with chores, getting up early)
Only you can choose what to film. Whatever you choose, it must mean something to you. 
Here are some of our ideas - your ideas will be better!
• My favourite computer game which my parents just don’t get
• Driving a car on the farm
• The haunted house
• How me and my friend make you tube/tiktok makeup demos
• My horse and how I look after her
• My mate the school bus driver
• How to build your own pig trap
• My friend needs my help
• I can imitate birds and animal calls
• I hate getting up for school in the morning
• Why I like the pub in Eumungerie
• My favourite jobs to do on the farm, and my least favourite
• Why did they close the caravan park?
• his is how I am going to the olympicsGetting ready for the Olympics
• The tree I like to sit in/special place I like to hide in, that no-one knows about, till now (till now)
• My big sister and why I love her
• My little brother and why he annoys me
• I like talking to Gran
• Dancing in the street
• I'm the best cook in the house
• What it is really like to be in primary school in Gilgandra
Note to teachers/parents

Gilgandra Film Festival was established in 2023 as a documentary film festival. This pilot program is to encourage young, primary age students to make their own documentaries about their lives, specifically self filmed, observational documentary films (ob docs) - up to 8 minutes in length.

The aim is not to make polished or professional looking films, but to focus on strong 'content gathering', using the camera to observe and enquire, to 'catch' a moment of truth, to convey a reality that touches and connects with an audience. This is what every great documentary maker tries to do! Students may add music and narration when editing, titles and FX if it interests them - but it is not the primary learning objective of this program.

These notes are guide only - we want to hear what works for you and your pupils.

Please contact us at any time, for ideas, queries, tech support, etc

Simon Target 0418 204499

Sue Armstrong ‭0427 359 926‬

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