A Primer on Documentaries | Beyond the Peaks Film Fest

You can choose any topic — profile a friend or family member, raise awareness about an issue, showcase a little-known art form…. But whatever topic you choose, it should be something you care about. Capture diverse stories from your own community or beyond with this non-fiction genre.

Documentary category requirements:

  • Film must be under 5 minutes in length
  • Include credible interviews and b-roll to craft your story
  • Preproduction materials including interview questions, storyboard, and an optional script
  • Promo materials including poster, trailer, synopsis and credits

Students can submit original films in a variety of additional categories including PSA, Drama, Comedy, Open.

Let Local Documentaries Inspire You

Get inspired to create your own documentary film with this selection of Mountain Lake PBS productions. Explore diverse stories—from the arts in small town America to veterans sharing their life experiences—there’s lot’s to discover with documentaries.

A Wild Idea: The Birth of the APA

New York’s Adirondack Park is larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Canyon, and Great Smokies National Parks combined. It is one of the largest unbroken deciduous forests on earth, with a thousand miles of streams and rivers, hundreds of lakes, and lofty peaks. Even more amazing, most of the land within the park is privately owned, and 85 million people live within a day’s drive. Yet the Adirondacks remain largely undeveloped. A Wild Idea explores the founding of the Adirondack Park Agency 50 years ago. Learn more about the film and watch excerpts from additional interviews hosted by Brad Edmondson, author of “A Wild Idea: How the Environmental Movement Tamed the Adirondacks,” on the film’s homepage.

Veterans Coming Home | When I Returned

Watch as cartoonists and co-creators J.D. Lunt and Kelly L. Swann, along with US Marine and cartoonist Michael R. Rodriguez, describe their journey partnering with veterans at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont to create the comic anthology “When I Returned.” The comics featured in this book expand how we talk about veterans, their lives, and individual stories while helping break down the civilian and military divide through the power of art and storytelling.

Arts in Exile: Tibetan Treasures in Small Town America

Arts in Exile: Tibetan Treasures in Small Town America explores how a small city in northern New York can be inspired by, and connected to the culture of Tibet from across the globe. Highlighting a large-scale festival of Tibetan arts and culture in Plattsburgh, New York, Arts in Exile examines how several Tibetan refugees use the arts to both raise awareness about the global problems they face, and keep their culture alive. Learn more about the film, including bonus interviews and performances on the documentary’s homepage.

Register for Free “Filmmaking 101” Workshop

Join us at Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh on November 28th, from 10AM-2PM, for a free “Filmmaking 101” Workshop!

Learn key audio/video techniques and storytelling best practices, and gain insight into the Beyond the Peaks Festival entry categories during a one-day workshop, open to students and teachers. Culminating with optional group work time and 1-on-1 sessions with professional media-makers, this is a great chance to enhance your skills while meeting peer film and video buffs from across the region. Learn more about the workshop schedule and registration requirements on our Learn & Play Blog post.

Sign up today to reserve your spot! Registration is limited and closes on Monday, November 21st.

Enter the “Beyond the Peaks Student Film Festival”!

To get started, create a student or teacher account on Skills21 Launchpad. Explore tutorials, resources, and step-by-step instructions on how to successfully submit your completed film entries!

Documentary | PSA | Drama | Comedy | Open entry

Submissions are due April 30th with winners announced at an end-of-school year Red Carpet Showcase. The top three winners will receive a cash prize and video supplies!

Sign up for Beyond the Peaks!

Register your account today to get started, and receive email updates about the festival.