Documentary Rules

History fair projects in the documentary categories, individual and group, must follow the general rules which apply to all history fair entries (see link at right).
In addition to the General Rules, documentaries must conform to all of the following specific rules.

D1. Time Requirements

  • Documentaries may not exceed ten minutes in length.
  • You will be allowed five minutes to set up and five minutes to remove equipment.
  • Timing begins when the first visual image appears and/or the first sound is heard. Audio and visual leads will be counted in the time limit.
  • Timing ends when the last visual image or sound of the presentation concludes (including credits).

NOTE: Use your setup time to prepare your documentary for presentation, adjust volume, etc.

D2. Introduction

  • You must announce only the title of your presentation and names of participants.
  • Comments prior to or during the presentation, including live, are prohibited.

D3. Student Involvement and Operation

  • You must be able to run the program within the ten-minute time limit.
  • You must provide and be able to run your own computers, software, and other equipment while presenting your documentary to the judges.
  • Interactive computer programs and web pages in which the audience or judges are asked to participate are not acceptable; judges are not permitted to operate any equipment.
  • Internet access may not be available.

D4. Student Production

  • All entries must be student-produced.
  • You must operate all equipment, including all editing equipment used in the production of your presentation.
  • You must provide the narration, voice-over, and dramatization. Only those student(s) listed as entrants may participate in the production.
  • Only you/your group and the subjects of your interviews (participants in a historical event or experts) may appear on camera.
  • Your entry must be an original production.
  • Using material created by others specifically for use in your entry is prohibited.

D5. Entry Production

  • You may use professional photographs, film, recorded music, etc., within your presentation. However, you must give proper credit in the credits at the end of your presentation and in your annotated bibliography.

NOTE: Remember that different equipment may affect how your documentary appears on the screen. You should test equipment provided at competitions beforehand, bring back-up copies of your documentary in different formats, and/or bring your own equipment. There is no penalty for displaying your documentary on a laptop computer, and many students use them successfully as a backup measure.

D6. Credits

  • At the conclusion of the documentary, you must provide a list of acknowledgments and credits for ALL sources. These credits should be brief-not full bibliographic citations and not annotated.
  • You are not required to credit individual images or video clips while the documentary is playing; that is the purpose of the credits at the end.
  • All sources (e.g., music, images, film/media clips, interviews, books, websites, etc.) used in the making of the documentary must be properly cited in the annotated bibliography.
  • The list of credits counts toward the ten-minute time limit and should be readable by viewers. See Figure 7 (in the rule book) for an example.

D7. Required Written Materials

  • Three copies of your title page, process paper, and bibliography should be presented to the judges for review. Be sure to bring an additional copy for your own reference. Refer to Part III (General Rules), Rules 16-18, for citation and style information.

TECHNICAL EQUIPMENT DIFFICULTIES IMPORTANT NOTE: Screens and TVs will be available in all Documentary rooms, in addition to a VCR and DVD player. HOTRHF provided electrical DVD player equipment has been found to often be outdated or unable to display certain types of newer programs burned on DVDs and Copy DVDs. If a DVD is being used HOTRHF suggests the student bring their own DVD player if available. If the student does not have a personal or school DVD player they can bring, HOTRHF suggests a VHS tape be prepared as a backup in case there are technical problems with provided DVD player equipment and DVD compatibility.

HOTRHF Note: Rules listed on this website have been updated for 2015.