Student Filmmakers Produce Obama Mini-Documentaries
(Top row) Justin Robinson, Maria Osler, Markita Andrews, Oldine Monestime, Lauren Jaelyn Collins and Jermaine Fletcher
(Bottom row) Elyse Madison and A’sia Horne-Smith
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As America’s youth signed up in record numbers to volunteer for the Obama presidential campaign, their interest in now president-elect Barack Obama overflowed into many other dimensions of their lives as well - including their academic studies. For four senior broadcast students at Florida A&M University (FAMU) it meant writing and producing five-minute mini-documentaries on any perspective of the presidential campaign. On Friday, December 5, the students will have an opportunity to share their “homework” with an audience at the 4th Biennial Student Documentary Night scheduled for 7 p.m. in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication Lecture Hall. The program, appropriately themed ‘The Way Eye See It’, will take on a slightly different twist by including the Barack Obama mini-docs.
The Obama mini-documentaries are five minutes each in length and will be shown intermittently with four lengthier student film projects on Student Documentary Night. The film projects cover a wide range of topics and student producers will be on hand to answer questions and discuss their projects in detail. In addition to the traditional 7 p.m. showing of the documentaries, another new addition to the event will be Friday, December 5, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Lecture Hall.
“I’ve seen a lot of presidential elections and I always engage the broadcast students in the process in a variety of ways,” said Professor Kenneth Jones, coordinator of the broadcast sequence in the FAMU Division of Journalism who also teaches the specialized reporting class where students are required to produce documentaries. “This year, the elections seemed to take on an interesting energy for all Americans at such a personal level - historically, emotionally and politically. I wanted the students to capture some of the deeply-rooted feelings from Americans of all walks of life.”
Jones explained that the mini-documentaries showcase post-election thoughts about Barack Obama’s quest to be president of the most powerful nation in the world. The subject matter includes people, institutions and other sources that were both supportive and opposed to an African American seeking the presidency. Documentary themes explore race, gender, class, age and more.
“We’ve been watching and tracking the presidential campaigns for two years,” said Dorothy Bland, director of the Division of Journalism at Florida A&M University. “I challenged the entire faculty in the division to find ways to incorporate elements of the campaign into their curriculum for the fall 2008 semester.”
According to Bland, faculty elected to involve students in survey research, others allowed students to gather data through telephone polls, while others used the existing student-run media in the School as a vehicle for sharing their opinions and observations with a larger audience.
“When we put this event on in the spring it was standing room only,” said Apryl McNealy, a third-year public relations student from Chattahoochie, Fla.
Student groups from select high schools in Leon County have been invited to spend the day with the journalism students at FAMU on Friday, December 5. The student filmmakers will present a panel discussion about how they produced their documentaries.
“This thing just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” said Professor Gina Kinchlow. Kinchlow is faculty adviser to the PRodigy PR Firm, the campus-based, student-run company that has promoted and executed the Student Documentary Night for the past two semesters. “This is our [PRodigy’s] third time handling the marketing and promotions for ‘Doc Night’ and every semester the PR students look for ways to take the event to a whole new level.”
The 15-minute documentaries selected for viewing this semester are:
“Iraq: Unforeseen Impacts”
Producers Elyse Madison & Justin W. Robinson
This documentary explores the Iraq War from a post-combat perspective by looking at the impact the war has on soldiers and their families with the soldier’s return to civilian life.
Producers: Lauren Jaelyn Collins and Jermaine Fletcher
This documentary focuses on the power of speech through politics, poetry, social, and historical views. How powerful is speech? The film will break down the elements of speech through political and historical influences.
“The Middle Ground”
Producers: A’sia Horne-Smith and Oldine Monestime
The film illustrates how immigrants adjust to American culture and reveals how certain native cultural elements become compromised in the process. It will provide glimpses into the struggles and triumphs encountered through the Americanization process.
“In Their Eyes”
Producers: Maria Osler and Markita Andrews
This documentary highlights a day in the life of a blind person and attempts to show the viewer a new perspective on the life of those without sight. While many people may think that blind people are extremely limited, this documentary exposes the myriad of things that the typical blind person can do.
For more information about the student filmmakers or to speak with a student filmmaker, contact Professor Kenneth Jones at (850) 561-2779 or Professor Gina Kinchlow at (850) 412-5389.
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