Meet Haley Hocking: Documentary whiz

Last June, our steering committee travelled to College Park, Maryland, to observe the National History Day finals.

Our steering committee (L-R, Alison Peters, Erin Gurski, Ruth Bouttell, Ruth Dunley, Kristin Riddell and Kathy Scheepers) travelled to College Park, Maryland, last June to see the National History Day finals.

Our steering committee (L-R, Alison Peters, Erin Gurski, Ruth Bouttell, Ruth Dunley, Kristin Riddell and Kathy Scheepers) travelled to College Park, Maryland, last June to see the National History Day finals.

It was a great opportunity for us to get ideas for our program and we had a chance to see student projects in all categories. But the best part was meeting students, teachers and parents who have been involved with History Day for many years — they all raved about their experiences with the program, and many students told us that their participation had not only helped them academically at the secondary-school level, but was also preparing them for the rigours of post-secondary studies, too.

One of the hundreds of students who took part in the National History Day finals in College Park last year. (Nice T-shirt!)

One of the hundreds of students who took part in the National History Day finals in College Park last year. (Nice T-shirt!)

Their stories about the importance of history in education were inspiring, and we have kept their advice and tips in mind as we continue to shape our own program. One of the students we met was Haley Hocking, whose documentary, Operation Pied Piper: Balancing Parental Rights and Government Responsibility, was one of many our committee screened.

Hayley Hocking won fourth place overall in the National Junior Individual Documentary category at National History Day in College Park, MD, last spring. File photo courtesy of Haley Hocking.

Hayley Hocking won fourth place overall in the National Junior Individual Documentary category at National History Day in College Park, MD, last spring. File photo courtesy of Haley Hocking.

The film, which eventually earned Haley fourth-place honours in her division, caught our eye because of Haley’s use of interviews with professors overseas and her excellent use of primary sources. You can see her entry here (keep in mind that Haley’s documentary is based on the Rights and Responsibilities theme of last year’s National History Day competition — you can get more information about our theme for this year’s National Capital History Day here):

We were so impressed by Haley’s excellent work that we approached her to find out how she tackles her History Day projects. It turned out that Haley, who lives in Riverside, California, was a veteran competitor in this category and her work has received many accolades at the regional and state levels, too.

“More than anything I enjoy making films,” says Haley. “National History Day allows me the opportunity to impart my own vision of people, places and events without the influence of film directors or editors.  It gives me an opportunity to meet and interview some wonderful people and opportunities to film in different locations. This is one of the few competitions students have to express themselves  through film.”

Haley now helps other students excel in the Documentary category by offering guidance on how to structure and assemble award-winning films, and she has kindly agreed to share one of her tutorials with us. You’ll find all sorts of great ideas and advice in this brief PowerPoint deck, which Haley recently presented to students and teachers at California State University Fullerton:

Download Haley’s Documentary tips

We really appreciate being able to share Haley’s work and tips with our students and teachers — and we can’t wait to see her Documentary for this  year, “Laughter in the Face of War.  The Leadership and Legacy of Bob Hope.”

Best of luck to Haley and to all the other young documentary filmmakers out there!

(And remember that you can see how judges evaluate documentaries here and you can download one of our rulebooks here. And we have a handy FAQ here.)

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