Backpack Journalism at Creighton University is a collaboration between the Theology Department and the Journalism, Media, & Computing Department. It came about because of a theologian interested in social justice and filmmaking and a journalist and an artist interested in filmmaking and social justice.
Each summer, a small group of students travels to a community in search of a story. Led by professors Dr. John O’Keefe, Tim Guthrie, and Carol Zuegner, the students immerse themselves in the communities, interviewing, filming, recording, and writing. When they return to Creighton, they take the stories they have collected and develop them into a short documentary film. The Backpack Journalism documentaries have been accepted at several film festivals, including the Omaha Film Festival. The class has traveled to such far-flung places as the Dominican Republic and Uganda, Bethel Alaska and Nogales Arizona/Sonora. The next project is tentatively planned for Northern Uganda in 2018.
I’m looking forward to a lot of things on this trip that will take place over the next two weeks. We’ve learned an amazing amount of things in the classroom this past week, and I’m ready to put everything that we have learned into practice to make this documentary. We’ve all had some great people, I.e. Nico Sandi, Carol Zuegner, an Dr. John O’Keefe, leading us in this journey and helping us learn everything we need to know.
After a long day of traveling, I can guess that most of us are already pretty tired from having to sit in two 12 passenger vans for 11 hours all day. With another 11 hours to go tomorrow, we’ll probably be just as tired once we reach our destination! But it will be more than worth it once we get to start working on the film and get to hear the stories of those we’ll be interviewing, More to come once we finally make it to Arizona!
I remember a few years ago when I used to go to high school back in Texas. I remember having to wake up around 6:30 everyday just to get ready in the morning, then get to school an hour later and wait for class to start at 8. I would stay in that school the entire day until the very last class period at 4:30, go home to do my homework, and try to go to sleep at a reasonable time every weekday. It’s times like this week that make me think back to those high school days and think to myself: “How in the world did I manage to survive being in school all day everyday?!”
While waking up early and staying in a classroom all day has taken a toll on my spoiled, nap-riddled sleep schedule, I can still honestly say I’ve enjoyed every sleep deprived moment of this week. I’ve learned so much in the past few days, not about just film, editing, and videography as a whole from Nico Sandi, but also about feature writing from Carol Zuegner, as well as some ecclesiology lessons from Dr. John O’Keefe. It’s been a busy week jam packed with multiple lectures, lessons, and tutorials, and it’s been an incredible ride so far.
This week has been especially great for me in terms of learning new things, because I’ve always been curious about how exactly a camera works. I never knew what ISO was, or how shutter speeds and the aperture affects shots, and how to balance all of these factors to get the picture/video you want. But after this week, I’ve gotten the main gist of how all of these things work, and how to use them effectively in film. I’m actually pretty sure I even had a dream about it at one point; I just couldn’t get it out of my mind after learning about it and seeing it in action every day! Additionally, Nico helped all of us out by giving us cheat sheets with different shots, as well as hints and tips when it comes to shooting, which has been immensely helpful this past week.
I’m very excited to put everything that I’ve learned this week so far into use while we’re all in Arizona and Mexico. Everyone in our group is very talented and have been doing some awesome stuff as far as shooting and editing videos go, so I’m even more excited to see how well we’ll all work together as a team!
You’re surfing through Netflix after finishing your binge session one of your favorite TV shows; given the fact that this show has just come to an end, you’re devastated and in need for something else to occupy your time. But you want to try something else before you dive into another series, something different. You scroll down the list of shows and categories, and you hit the Documentaries section. “Alright,” you think to yourself, “I could try to inform myself on something.” So you pick one that seems interesting to you, say, something about killer whales in an amusement park. You finish the documentary, and you’re now left to your thoughts on the film and the issues it presented.
How did the film make you feel? Did you learn new things from it that you otherwise would have never known about before? Did it make you want to inform yourself more about the issue at hand and do something about it? Overall, did the film leave a lasting impression on you? If someone is able to answer any of these positively, then the documentary did its job well.
This summer, a handful of students, Creighton University faculty and staff members and I are on a journey to Arizona and Mexico in an effort to make a informative documentary about the lives of migrant workers and how the politics of immigration affect their lives. We’ll be working with the Kino Border Initiative and interviewing those who are affected by immigration policies to learn about their stories and their lives altogether. Through this pilgrimage to the South, our hope is to raise awareness on the issues of laws pertaining to immigration, and the impact it has on those these laws are directed at.
Being a graphic design major in the Journalism, Media and Computing department, I’m able to experience and learn about things outside of the field of graphic design, like journalism, film, and so on. I’ve learned to develop an appreciation for these other fields, especially when it comes to film and documentaries. I love the idea of being able to tell a story through photos and video, and really respect those who have put their heart and soul into films with the intent of informing others about certain issues that they care about.
I am really looking forward to this trip with my peers and faculty members down to Arizona and Mexico, and am very excited to listen to the stories of those we’ll be talking to, and making their message heard through the documentary we will put together. Given the heated debates that surround the topic of immigration, especially during this election season this year, it will be and insightful experience to create an informational film to present the issues through the perspective of those that are affected by it.
Hopefully those of you who are reading these blogs throughout our trip, not only by me but from my peers as well, will become interested in our journey and continue to follow along and learn with us!