Tag Archives: filming

Long Days, Large Payoff

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.

Cheat Sheets
Nico’s Handy Dandy Cheat Sheets: The most useful pieces of paper this 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!

The Intent Behind the Camera

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.

Kino Border Initiative Cafetiera
A cafeteria located at the Kino Border Initiative, where we’ll be going for service and interviews.

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!

Nearing the End

Tonight marks Tuesday night, which means we only have two full days left here in Bethel. That also means that in two days, our documentary will officially be in our possession.

Not edited and finished though, of course.

As you may or may not know, Friday morning our time in Bethel ends as we embark on a journey to Seward, Alaska. Our job as film makers will be put on hold while we zone into our inner tourists/little kids and simply explore the sites to see. What this also symbolizes is the end of our filming. Once we leave, there is no coming back. Hidden inside the many hours of footage that have been captured during our stay lies the film that we’ll title and share with all of you.

I realized this thought late last night, on yet another sunset walk. Like the setting sun, it’s bitter sweet to imagine that in so many ways, this experience is lurching towards the end. While I’m beyond excited to begin the editing process and complete our film, I’m terribly sad that the filming side is almost done.

Exploring Bethel to film B-roll has been an absolute treasure. Something about looking through a lens makes you see the world differently. As you stare at a location through the eye of the camera, it forces you to slow down and take it all in. The shapes, the colors, and how objects relate to one another. This trip has given me the opportunity to view Bethel in the most beautiful way possible and even though I’m terribly sad to leave it so soon, I’m ecstatic to share what we’ve witnessed with everyone back home.

Channeling Barbara

We started our first day of filming with back-to-back-to-back interviews.

The night before, we sat in the social hall located between the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and the Sunday school rooms that double as our sleeping quarters deciding people’s roles for the next day. People were volunteering for audio, video, and B roll. When it came time to decide the interviewers, Madeline and Claudia raised their hands to volunteer. Carol then needed a third interviewer for another priest we would meet the next day. My mind flashed back to our last reflection in Omaha about widening comfort zones as my hand shot up. “I can do it,” I told Carol.

What had I done?

I had planned on being an interviewer at some point in the week, but much later after I had a chance to see how these ordeals played out. Instead, I followed my impulse and became nervous immediately after I folded my arm back into my lap.

I fell asleep that night to the rhythm of Claudia’s snores while the guidelines for the interviewee preparation ran through my mind, “ignore the camera, eye contact, no reaction, pause, include the question in the answer.”

Usually, I like to have a good handle on what I’m doing and let’s just say I haven’t been perfecting any well-versed interview skills recently.

But the next day came and we took a short trip to the Lutheran Church to meet with Michelle Dewitt, a person who deals with community outreach in Bethel to talk about the environmental impact and the Native culture. We set up in the corner of the church with only natural light to create the Rembrandt lighting effect for our cameras. Claudia rocked her questions for the hour long interview only interrupted because of a few loud trucks driving by and low camera batteries.

We broke for lunch and then set up for a pair of interviews in the living room of the apartment above the church. Madeline and I had the same set of interview questions for adult faith formation leader, Patrick Tam, and Father Mark. Sitting in on Patrick Tam’s interview I got to know the set of the questions well so I felt more and more excited to have the chance to interview next.

Prepping for Fr. Mark's interview
Prepping for Fr. Mark’s interview

Once Patrick’s interview ended, I took one big calming breath and thought “What Would Barbara Do?” Barbara Walters would know her questions and be confident. I sat in the chair and less than one hour later stood up to shake Father Mark hand to thank him for his great thoughts and stories.

I felt satisfied that I had accomplished the goal of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I found it rewarding talking with Father Mark about faith and culture and asking questions to further his explanations.  My hope is that I continue to push my journalistic skills on this trip and after I return home.

This was only day one of filming. Keep up with our progress throughout the week here on the blogs and on Twitter @cubackpack.


The last two days have been jam packed with activities ranging from watching Dr. O’Keefe  become an elder (it’s always great to see an authority figure dressed in leopard print holding a bull tail), getting a grass skirt wrapped around me and dancing with the students at Ave Maria, learning just how challenging filming can be, and visiting a fully functioning and thriving radio station in Lira, Uganda.

Today, especially the stress about every part of our video project started taking a toll. Shooting useable footage, taking valuable notes and figuring out where our story is even headed became stressful tasks in this setting. However, as I walked back from playing soccer with the children from the village nearby and the sun began to set, I directed my attention to the sky (strange that I was focused on a sunset, right?) It hit me that the magnitude of the sky is always for certain. I could be anywhere in the world, look up, and the sky will still be there. Sunset gave way to the night sky which is massive in Africa. You can’t help but awkwardly stand gawking at the stars down here. It’s definitely a reminder that the world is much larger than me, and this video project, and it’s impossible to figure it all out.

So even though I may not know the questions I’m supposed to be asking, what our schedule for the day entails, but here are something things I am certain of:

  • I planted my very own tree in Africa! It’s one thing to leave a place and feel an emotional attachment, but I have a living tree keeping part of me alive in Uganda.

    Planting my tree at Ave Maria (Photo Credit: Alison Prater)
  • Ugandans appreciate their beer just as much as Americans. Who knew? Not me, cheers.
  • I’m on this trip with amazing people and I mean that. If you haven’t read their blogs for any reason, stop reading this one and go check them out. I don’t think this trip would be quite the same without their different insights, quirks, and jokes.

    The bottom of the broadcasting tower at the Radio Wa studio
  • I had a great moment today where we visited Radio Wa and got to watch a live broadcast. As someone who always throws “Radio Host” on my list of dream jobs, I was loving it. Even if that’s the closest I get to sitting behind a microphone, I’m content knowing I got this opportunity.
  • Tomorrow is a new day.

Keep on keepin’ on,


You’re not supposed to understand everything.” –Rob Sterger

If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently.” –Bill Watterson