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UA student filmmakers screen original documentaries at Loft Cinema event

Courtesy Jacob Bricca
Still from “What’s Up Docs” a compilation of 12 short documentaries (Photo by Feifei Gong).

We love watching movies. Some have even dreamed of making movies and seeing their work unfold on the big screen. For a select few, that dream becomes a reality.

This Tuesday, Dec. 6, head on over to The Loft Cinema to see “What’s Up, Docs?”, a premiere of 12 short documentaries produced by UA School of Theatre, Film and Television students. The films were produced through a documentary production class here at the UA.

Most of the films were made by student pairs where the partners each spent countless hours in order to bring the films to life.

Alicia Farmer, a film and television junior, will screen “Suicidal,” the short documentary she and her partner made, this Tuesday. She noted the the long and tedious process that comes along with filmmaking.

“The filmmaking process is insane,” Farmer said. “A lot of people don’t realize just how much work goes into making a film and how many hours are spent in the lab making edit after edit. It’s exhausting, but God is it rewarding.”

“Suicidal” is a personal diary film that deals with issues of depression, psychosis and suicidal thoughts felt by Farmer’s filmmaking partner.

“This is a deeply personal film,” Farmer said. “A lot of people like to turn their heads and ignore it, but suicide and mental illness are simply too important and too prevalent to be put on the back burner.”

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Farmer added that she thinks of documentary as one of the best possiblemeans to tackle these types of issues.

“It’s real, it’s in your face,” Farmer said. “That’s simply something fiction and experimental films can’t accomplish.”

This event will give people in the community a chance to take a look at some of the talent coming out of the university.

“Once it’s all finished and you’re sitting there, watching it on the big screen, you let out a sigh of relief, put on the proudest smile, and say ‘We made it. Now they know,’” Farmer said.

Lorraine Koleski, a film and television junior who will also screen her film at the event, noted some of the difficulties she and her filmmaking partner encountered.

The film, “Jazz on Friday,” observes a jazz dance class while also exploring dance as a form of expression and appreciation of the human body.

“My partner and I really struggled with the theme of our documentary,” Koleski said. “We had a lot of great footage but didn’t know what to say with it.”

Many film students are not particularly used to the style of documentary, so this class poses an opportunity for students to expand their scope as a filmmaker.

“When you make a fiction film, you have a script and a shot list and everything is planned to a T, so you know exactly what you’re going to end up with,” Koleski said. “With documentary, it’s a lot of guess work in the shooting, and the actual story is discovered in the editing. Overall, I found documentary to be a lot more labor intensive.”

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Jacob Bricca, an assistant professor in the UA School of Theatre, Film and Television teaches the class where these documentaries are brought to life, helping the students every step of the way to create the best work possible.

“I teach the students the fundamentals of every stage of the process, from idea generation through research, pre-production, shooting and post-production and act as a guide and a helping hand,” Bricca said. “A huge amount of the storytelling in documentary takes place in the editing phase, so that is an especially intense part of the process, where I view their work multiple times and give them suggestions about how they can shape it into a coherent, well-structured film.”

Despite the long and stressful process of documentary filmmaking, Bricca said helping to create these films is incredibly rewarding.

“You get to see these creations go from a germ of an idea to a finished film in the space of about 14 weeks,” Bricca said. “It’s nice to be able to provide reassurance to the students about how their projects are going.”

Bricca added that creating a documentary involves a real curiosity about the world and a real engagement with it in a very direct way. It requires you to meet people you never would have met, ask questions that you might not otherwise be able to ask and really think about things in a different way.

“It’s how you turn the real world into a cinematic experience, thinking about how you use all your tools to get across a particular point of view on a story,” Bricca said.

Attendees at “What’s Up, Docs?” will see many different films about a wide variety of topics. The event will take place this Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. at The Loft Cinema. Admission is free. 

Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter.

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