Diving Into Filmmaking

January 27, 2015

By Danielle Su

“Exploring the Intersection of Energy and Peace-building through Film”—This is the name of our Bass Connections project. Sounds bewildering yet fascinating, right? Well it has been! Prior to this class, I only had general knowledge about post-conflict areas. Prior to this class, my filmmaking experience consisted of some shaky, classroom productions made on iMovie (Ramón el Ladrón from AP Spanish was a real winner). Now, I can confidently say that my classmates and I have more than dipped our toes—perhaps a foot or leg—in all the components of our project. While a dip doesn’t sound so impressive, our class did some hard work to develop background skills and knowledge. Plus, everyone knows that the first step into icy-cold, unfamiliar water is the hardest.

One of my favorite things about this class is that we learned experientially by hearing from so many people and their different experiences. We watched documentaries like Auk 8 and Wasteland, and we interviewed and met with experts, Sean Peoples and Mike Cowing. We also had presentations in class from data visualization coordinator Angela Zoss and social entrepreneur Rachel Lichte.

I really believe the variety of presentations contributed to our ability to think about the projects creatively and from different angles. For example, I really enjoyed Rachel’s presentation even though it wasn’tdirectly related to our projects. Rachel is the co-founder of The Clarity Project, which is a jewelry company that sources diamonds from its own mine in Sierra Leone to ensure that the diamonds are mined ethically. Her presentation was interesting and got me thinking about social entrepreneurship, the complex issuesbehind sourcing in developmental and conflict countries, and government structures in conflict countries. Though we didn’t talk much about film, Rachel had studied film as an undergraduate and that makes sense in my mind because Rachel seems like she looks for stories. Her curiosity about the stories behind her friends’ engagement rings is indicative of that.

Similarly, I think this class has taught me to look for the story in a string of seemingly disjointed film footage. My team is focusing on the natural resource water and its role in peace building efforts, and creating the storyline has been both the most challenging and rewarding part. Throughout the semester I have done a lot of exploring—exploring documentaries and the process it takes to make them, exploring the UN Environment Programme and their work in post-conflict areas, even exploring my own approach to working with others. However, I think that the real exploration of the intersection between mater management and peacebuilding will be next semester, in the heart of the filmmaking process, when we truly immerse ourselves in our film projects.