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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    What’s Up Docs?

    One documentary follows the story of a sister’s struggle to deal with a relative’s disappearance. In another film, a documentarian grapples with a fear of needles on the path to becoming a blood donor. Media arts junior Fiona Foster, a Daily Wildcat employee, was inspired by a video series she filmed while in Orvieto, Italy, to create a documentary about the value of studying abroad.

    She originally pitched a series of 16 short films documenting her weeks in Italy to earn a scholarship.

    “People kept saying, ‘You’ve got to do study abroad. It’ll be the best summer of your life,’” Foster said. “But no one really ever said why.”

    And that’s the question she thought she could answer with her final project in Media Arts 314a: Documentary Production.

    With more interviews and a little more time, she hopes that her documentary will encourage people to take part in the study abroad program.

    In one of the first big screenings of their careers, the students in the bachelor’s of fine arts program in the UA School of Theatre, Film and Television present self-created, 5- or 6-minute documentaries at the end of the semester at the Loft Cinema in a free night of film aptly named “What’s Up, Docs?”

    “It’s a really strong group of films this year,” said Beverly Seckinger, a professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television, which houses these projects.

    Over the course of the semester, students work on three films: One looks outside of themselves, another is a diary-style project and the final project becomes the documentary for the screening.
    “This is the most prominent screening that (the students) will have participated in this far,” Seckinger said. “So if we do our thing and get people there, it’s really exciting.”

    Plus, Seckinger said that this venue provides film students with a whole new way to look at their work.

    “Watching your film on a big screen like that makes you realize that you want to do the best job you can. It’s inspiring,” she said. “A mistake looks very big up there … but it’s also, it feels different to watch a film like that versus on your computer or on a TV with three other people. It feels different to watch it on that big screen.”

    So how much work goes into these projects?

    “Untold hours,” Seckinger said. “I know they are not sleeping right now. They got a lot going on. They are working to capacity and beyond.”

    For a small fiction scene, Foster said four hours of rehearsal and just as many of filming, along with at least eight hours editing in the lab is standard. So for the documentaries, the amount of time spent workshopping ideas and proposals to making first cuts and final production is staggering.

    But from what she has seen of the early drafts of her classmates’ films, Foster said she thinks it’ll be a good show.

    “Just the diversity of the works, there’s a piece about Occupy Tucson, there’s a piece about an arts program in town called Stories that Soar where children submit story ideas and the group turns them into performances with actors and music. There’s a piece about Rabbi Stephanie Erin, Rep. Gabby Giffords’ spiritual counselor and it’s about how she found her vocation to be a rabbi, one about what it’s like to be a vegan and one about sex trafficking in the Southwest,” Seckinger said. “Such a variety.”

    But what comes out of these projects is more than just an opportunity to share their films with the community.

    “On more than one occasion, students have used the project in their senior thesis film,” Seckinger said. “And if that happened even with one, I’d be thrilled.”

    The two-hour film event is free to the public and will hit the Loft later this month.

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