Audio Storytelling and Podcasting

In this five day workshop, NPR Story Lab senior producer Michael May and award-winning Montana Public Radio reporter Nora Saks taught participants how to produce a compelling audio story — from conducting interviews and gathering natural sound to story structure and script writing. Students also pitched podcast ideas at the start of the week and left with project blueprints to take those ideas from concept to launch.

All participants’ final audio pieces aired on public radio stations across Montana.

Interested in workshops like this? See what’s coming up next at the Lab.

Writing Well

Compelling, concise writing is an art. In this three-day workshop, University of Montana associate professor of journalism Jule Banville taught the fundamentals of solid writing through hands-on exercises and one-on-one edits.

From business and nonprofit communications to writing for the web and social media, participants learned the importance of sentence structure, grammar and writing flow across multiple platforms.

Interested in workshops like this one? Check out our upcoming workshops.

Writing Doesn’t Have to be Boring

Banville used the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are to demonstrate proper syntax, good writing, and simple storytelling.

More From Our 2019 Writing Well Workshop

Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

For ten days each February, filmmakers and doc film enthusiasts from around the world gather in Missoula for the chance to see some of the more than 150 films that make up the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (BSDFF).

When not watching films, attendees often participate in DocShop, a week-long program featuring panels, workshops, and presentations for students and media makers.

We’re honored to team up with BSDFF each year to co-host DocShop panels that connect our students and community members with industry experts. Check out our ongoing collaboration with DocShop below.

2020: Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Presents “Paradise Without People”

For the 17th annual BSDFF DocShop, the Montana Media Lab hosted TIME Studios filmmaker Francesca Trianni for a conversation about her film Paradise Without People.

2019: Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Filmmakers Forum

For the 16th annual BSDFF DocShop, the Montana Media Lab co-hosted multiple panels with experts from across the country. From “Audio to Visual: Taking Podcasts to the Screen” to “The Art of Sound in Documentaries,” filmmakers learned from the best in the industry.

BSDFF and Montana Media Lab Team Up for Filmmakers Forums

During the 16th annual film festival, the Montana Media Lab hosted a plethora of events related to BSDFF’s DocShop Filmmakers Forum. The lab participated in numerous events throughout the series including: From Audio to Visual: Taking Podcasts to the Screen, The Art of Sound in Documentaries, News Not Noise, and more.

BSDFF’s Filmmakers Forums

The Making of St. Louis Superman

Bruce Franks Jr., pictured below in the red sweater, sat down with the Montana Media Lab to discuss the film St. Louis Superman in which he was the subject. Franks Jr. is an activist who had a prominent presence in Ferguson, and a battle rapper. St. Louis Superman chronicles Frank Jr.’s journey into politics when he is elected to the Missouri House of Representatives.

Montana Media Lab Presents News Not Noise

This DocShop series captured the thoughts of the media producers and editors and how the use of short documentaries can help stories rise above the constant noise of the 24-hour news cycle.

Shining a Light: Investigative Journalism in Documentary Film

In Indonesia, a small group of activists have risked their lives to save enslaved fisherman— those that help feed the world with fresh seafood. Filmmaker Shannon Service discussed the trials and tribulations she ran into while making this documentary.

From Audio to Visual: Taking Podcasts to the Screen

Reporters and producers sat down and discussed what it takes to turn your podcast into a film.

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs at Big Sky High School

In the fall of 2019, the Montana Media Lab teamed up with Big Sky High School students and PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs to tell video stories about everything from climate change to teen pregnancy.

University of Montana School of Journalism students helped teach story development, interviewing, filming and script writing.

Interested in having the Montana Media Lab work with your school on a storytelling project? Get in touch!

The Flagship Program: Conversations with a NASA Commander

Earthrise (above) courtesy of NASA

In 2018, the Montana Media Lab joined up with Missoula’s Flagship Program to produce an out-of-this-world story.

Local middle and high school students interviewed NASA Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman as part of the “Lights on Afterschool” program. Apollo 8 launched in 1968 and was the first successful manned mission to orbit the moon and return to earth. The mission became famous for the stunning “Earthrise” photo captured by one of the crew.

The Flagship Program provides out of school opportunities for K-12 students in Missoula County Public Schools.

A Conversation with Commander Frank Borman

Behind the Scenes of our Intergalactic Interview

Audio Tools for Non-Audio Storytellers

This three-day workshop taught photographers, filmmakers and writers how to add audio tools to their storytelling toolbox.

Participants received hands-on training with digital audio recorders, practiced capturing quality sound in the field, learned how to edit what they gathered and left with a fully produced audio story. Instructor Lacy Roberts, of Transmitter Media, also discussed writing for the ear and the idiosyncrasies of unfurling a narrative in audio—whether it’s a longform narrative or a minute-long news piece.

Interested in more workshops like this? Check out our upcoming workshops.

Building Blocks of a Short Documentary

In this three-day workshop, PBS American Experience producer/editor and former FRONTLINE editor Eric Gulliver presented methods for constructing a story in short documentary film. From scene development to post-production workflow, Eric guided students through best practices for story editing.

The first day of this workshop focused on developing a theoretical understanding of editing for short film. On day two, participants built a toolkit of advanced storytelling and editing techniques. Day three focused on improving technical skills in Adobe Premiere Pro through hands-on training. Students left this workshop with a framework for post-production that takes into account the changing nature of deliverables across media platforms.

Interested in workshops like this? Check out our upcoming workshops.

Mobile and Social Media Engagement

Smartphones have made creating content for the web easy. But knowing the best apps to use for quality content creation, or the best social media platforms to grow your audience— that’s trickier.

Multimedia journalist Val Hoeppner guided participants through the ins and outs of various apps and social media platforms and recommended best practices for audience engagement and growth.

Apps covered: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Canva, Enlight Videoleap Video Editor, VideoShop, Chart Maker Pro and Filmr.

If this workshop interests you, please check out our upcoming workshops.

Telling Family Stories in Multimedia

We all want to know more about who we are and where we came from (why else would DNA kits like 23andMe and sites like be so popular?). But how do we tell compelling digital stories about our families through archival video, photos and audio?

In this workshop, multimedia journalist and Montana Media Lab director Anne Bailey taught students how to record audio interviews with loved ones, digitize archival family photos and footage, and edit short, documentary-style videos in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Interested in workshops like this? Check out our upcoming workshops.