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.
thank you Mari and Claudia for introducing us to a way to swiftly bring to everyone’s attention all things ridiculous.
Mari and Claudia strike again. my favorite new way to tell someone i love them when I’m laughing too hard to actually say it.
whenever Tony was called upon, it was a sure thing that his personal catch phrase would come to the surface and be echoed by the rest of the group time and time again.
Who knew one card game would invite a fire in Tim? Blurted out at any moment, BS became the ticking time bomb of all of our group catch phrases.
Bananagrams was the surprise hit of the trip. Nichole rallied the group around her to play at any time.
6. where did TJ go?
7. he’s probably on a walk
Six and seven are a mated pair. Our spontaneous TJ was often found to be the missing member of the group. Almost every time he would wander back in and tell the group of an amazing experience he had on his own walking adventures.
8. Tim’s fart noise
If we only learned one thing from Tim Guthrie, it was that if you don’t know what to say, a fart noise will always do you right.
9. Tony Shalhoub
Mari was on point again when she compared our resident Jesuit to the american actor. No one could deny the resemblance, and it stuck so well that his name even got changed to “Tony Shaloub” in the GroupMe.
Everyone’s warm feelings were shared for all when we began to read all of the profiles we had written about each other. Caludia commented on Scott’s profiles of Mari telling him it was “fuzzy” and it caught on from there.
During our travels to Bethel, Alaska, TJ and I were offered the opportunity to pursue a story on sled dog racing and the K-300 dog race. Sarah Stanley– our group liaison to all things Bethel– was able to set us up with multiple people and opportunities to film for our project.
Originally, we were planning on focusing on the administrative side of the race, but when we were offered an unexpected opportunity to interview Myron Angstman, our story took a new direction. Myron Angstman is one of the founders of the k-300 dog race in Bethel, Alaska. He was the man who came up with the idea of having a race in Bethel after he participated in the Iditarod. Before we interview him, we got a tour around his property and dog training facilities.
Angstman and one of his team were gracious enough to give us the chance to ride on the back of his all-terrain training vehicle while he took the dogs out for practice run. TJ and Haylee rode in the truck next us– attempting to film the dogs from a different perspective– while Morgan and myself climbed into the back of the ATV, sat on the rain-soaked board that served as a bench, and hunkered down for a rain-drenched and wind-blown ride.
When we got back to his property, we went into the dog yard to film the dogs up close and got to see just how different the personalities of each dog were. Some were playful, others were observant, and one was systematically chewing through his fourth house… They pulled down a sled for us to look at, and when they asked if we needed anything else, we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to interview Myron.
Stepping into his office, we set up the little equipment we had. Truthfully, all we had one lonesome (mini) iPad and whatever questions we could come off with off the tops of our heads. It turned out to be a great learning experience. And who can say no to a story about race dogs, anyway?
Coming back from Bethel, it has been a process of really hunkering down. From naming and organizing video clips to transcribing interviews, trimming quotes, and putting together B-roll sequences, it has been a lot of hard work. Not only have we been working as a group, but we have all been individually working on our own papers and projects too.
For instance, TJ and I have been working on our iPad mini story. It is a piece about sled dogs and the K300 race. While it was definitely a fun process to go film the dogs, putting together the video was not exactly a cake walk.
I will take a fair amount of credit for our troubles. Prior to going to film, I had plugged in my iPad to charge right next to Erin’s. In my hurry and excitement to leave and go see puppies, I accidentally grabbed Erin’s iPad instead of mine… I ended up having to film on her iPad and then Tim downloaded the footage onto the drive with the rest of the trip’s footage so we could get it later. However, that was more easily said than done.
Monday morning (June 30), TJ and I came in at 8:30 to work on our video. Class wasn’t going to start until 10:30 that day, so we thought we would have sufficient time to get a good part of our movie done. Of course, getting the footage from the computer system onto the iPad was much more of a process than we bargained for. We spent the entire two hours (and part of our actual class time) trying everything we could think of to be able to access the footage in the iMovie app on the iPad. None of it worked. In the end, we had to talk to Tim and ask for help. Tim told us we should probably just do our project on the computer and, luckily, Carol agreed when she heard everything we had tried.
Obviously, I do not have the best luck with technology. However, I have come to accept that I will probably always be fixing my stupid mistakes. As long as I am willing to buckle down, try everything, and put in some hard work and time, everything will come together in the end.