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. In 2014, they will head north to Bethel, Alaska.
Now that we’re back in Omaha, it’s back to Hitchcock 205 to get down to business. Half of the class has been working on the story line and the other half has been sifting through the copious amounts of videos that were taken.
The past few days I have been very busy. I’ve been filing through all of the B-roll that we filmed in order to piece different scenes together (B-roll is alternative footage that is weaved along with the main shot.) It’s like going on a scavenger hunt to find the perfect pieces and then creating your own puzzle or getting to write your own story. I’ve really loved being able to create different scenes and watching the stories come to life. I feel like a storyteller, and I love it.
When I was younger, I was interested in directing and editing film. However at the time, I had an amateur digital camera that I got from Santa (I planned on proving that Santa wasn’t real the next year by placing my camera strategically on the fireplace and letting it film the whole night) and the old Windows Movie Maker. I apologize to my friends who i drafted for my horrendous, amateur movies.
As I grew older, I didn’t have as much time for videos and lost touch with one of my favorite things as a child. I’ve felt nostalgic over the past few days. I’ve been asking Nico to review the scenes I’ve been editing. I’m determined to pick his brain and ask constantly for constructive criticism. My goal is to become a master of Final Cut Pro, just as Nico is. Who knows, maybe I’ll want to do this for awhile.
Preparing to go abroad is a long process, but Claire Storey has memorized it. She goes abroad once almost every year.
She’s been to a dozen countries, not to mention various states. Bethel, Alaska is considered a close destination.
Storey sat outside of the Immaculate Conception Church in Bethel on a Thursday afternoon and tried to list all of the countries she’s visited as Scott Prewitt, an adventurer who would love to travel the world, listened.
“I could probably name them all,” she said. “South Africa…”
“I hate you,” Prewitt whispered. South Africa was just the beginning of the long list.
“Wait, I have to think about this in order, if I can,” she replied. “South Africa, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, England, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Canada, Mexico. Did I already say Germany? Italy.”
She laughed as Prewitt glared at her. She added, “And pretty much everywhere in the Netherlands. I think that’s it.”
Storey has been on many family vacations. Like every tourist, she brought along a digital camera on every trip. Snapping pictures at a very early age and watching her mother take up photography as a hobby, she grew to love photography as much as her mother does.
“There were always interesting things to take pictures of,” Storey said, reflecting on her traveling experiences. “From a fairly young age I had a digital camera that I could take pictures with so I would just take lots of pictures.”
“My paranoid mind is like, ‘I’m going to go to some employer that went to Creighton and knows all about Creighton and was like ‘Oh, did you go on the Backpack Journalism program?’”
Saying no to that question was a big fear of Storey’s, so she signed up for the program and packed her bags for yet another adventure.
Instead of bringing her digital camera, she brought her professional camera and took her photography skills to the next level during the experience.
She had always naturally adopted the rule of thirds, the theory that the eye will gravitate toward an object of interest that is placed at an intersection point when the image is split into thirds. However, she had struggled with setting the aperture, which controls the brightness of an image, and exposure in the manual mode of the camera.
“I took the Video and Photojournalism class and then I took the Digital Video class and then I came on this trip,” Storey explained. “I knew the information from the first two classes but it wasn’t really until we were practicing for this trip that I realized that it was really clicking into place and I knew what I was doing.”
Although photography has always been a passion of Storey’s, she’s hoping to one day have a position at a publishing house.
“I’m studying photojournalism and I’m studying news journalism, but really what I have been able to see myself doing for a long time is being in some sort of editing of novels, like young adult novels,” she said.
She explained that a lot of people ask her why she didn’t major in English if she wants to edit novels one day.
Storey knew that if she were to major in English, she’d have to specialize in creative writing in order to edit novels, and at some point or another she’d have to write her own creative story.
“I basically have an inability to come up with a concept in my mind for a creative story idea and develop my own story, but I’m really good at helping other people flush out and develop and edit their stories,” she explains.
So she chose to explore photojournalism and news journalism to keep multiple windows of opportunity open and to develop her enjoyment of both skills.
“Photojournalism is something that I really enjoy so I think it’s a good skill to develop for myself to open up as a possible career,” she explained.
Even if Storey gets her dream job editing young adult novels at a publishing house, photography will always be a passion of hers.
At the rate she travels, she may have photographs from every country on the globe by the time she puts her camera down for good.