UIS students to present self-produced documentaries at the Documentary Film Festival | Features

The Documentary Film Festival will take place on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. regular theater where student documentaries from a documentary filmmaking class at Illinois State University will be shown to the public.

The class, led by Dr. Brent Simondstakes place every fall for students who want to broaden their horizons and make their own documentaries.

Simonds explained how a class like this has operated during a pandemic and how students have navigated their way through.

“The last two years have been strange. Luckily we were able to meet in person but of course we had to wear masks. It also makes it harder for students to go out and do interviews with people, but the class did a great job of finding participants for their films,” Simonds said.

One student who had to make things work throughout the class was the great mass media specialist Aliyah Muhammad. She talked about her experience in this class compared to others she had.

“The experience was fun. It was nice to learn and plan shoots that weren’t just reporting like I’m used to on TV-10. However, it took some adjustments when it came to filming,” Muhammad said.

For this assignment, students were placed in groups to produce a documentary during the semester.

However, Simonds said it’s not uncommon for students to become so passionate about what they’re filming that they continue to refine their product even after the course is over.

Making an entire documentary in one semester is no easy task. Simonds explained the workload for an assignment like this.

“Each group negotiates a subject and writes proposals on the subject on which they wish to make a film. Each team receives the necessary equipment to complete the shoot. Teams also write press releases, promote their work on social media, and submit their documentaries to student film festivals,” Simonds said.

Over the course of a few months, the students took the skills learned in class and applied them to make a comprehensive documentary.

“I spent many months on this project. I contacted all the participants, scheduled shoots, helped film and edited the documentary for most of this semester,” Muhammad said. “It’s worth it based on what I’ve learned and what I can take with me in the future.”

With the screening just hours away, Simonds expressed how he feels now that this semester’s journey is coming to an end.

“I’m always happy to see students working together toward a common goal and feeling passionate about the work they do,” Simonds said.

The screening takes place Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Normal Theater in Uptown Normal and opens doors at 6:30 p.m.

KATIE MARTENSEN is a news and feature reporter for The Vidette. Martensen can be reached at [email protected] Follow Martensen on Twitter at @ktmartensen

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