By Roo Smith ’20
The Colorado College campus at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning is surprisingly active. The kayakers are loading their boats onto their cars, the skiers are waiting outside their friend’s dorms to pick them up and head west. As a filmmaker and photographer, I guess I’m a part of this active 5:30 crowd more often than I would like. Chasing golden hour for the best rock-climbing photos, dreamy skiing videos, or even just filming students being students at Colorado College became a common occurrence over the coming months. For now, the early November crisp air chills the cameras in our hands as we set out to hike to one of our favorite rock-climbing spots near campus. Located only about 20 minutes south of Colorado College is North Cheyenne Canon, one of my go-to areas for hiking, running, or climbing, as well as the location for the first production day of “Come Curious.” Alongside my filming partner, Noah Kane, we loaded up our bags with an assortment of cameras, lenses, ropes, ascenders, microphones, and drones to capture this event as thoroughly as possible and from all angles. We arrived at the climbing location just as the sun starts to peek into the canyon. Golden hour. We made it.
For this shoot, all we needed to do was put ourselves in the right positions to capture the essence of what climbing looks like for these students at Colorado College. Meredith Foster and Charlie Bondurant, the two climbers in this video, were total all-stars during this shoot. We’d ask them to change their body positions, go slower, go faster, look left, put their hands in their chalk bag, tie the rope again, put on the harness again and look out into the distance all for the sake of getting the optimal angles for the video. These verbal directions became a consistent staple to my and Noah’s vocabulary over the next five months of filming. Phrases as commonplace as “let’s do that one more time” were gradually refined to “can we please do that again?” to provide the politest way of setting expectations as it’s never just one more time. This became especially important when directing Colorado College cross-country athlete Halle White during the track scene. Nobody wants to hear “one more time” when doing sprints only to discover that we actually need about six more takes from different angles.
On November 19, I, Noah, and our stills photographer and pre-production partner Noah Weeks arrived at the Adam F. Press Fitness Center to film what I had anticipated being one of the most exciting filming opportunities of the video. The facilities staff at CC granted us a golf cart to film this section so we could whip around the track following Halle with our cameras. The golf cart partnered with the stabilization technology of the three-axis gimbal we used to keep our camera steady resulted in some of the most professional-looking shots of my filmmaking career thus far.
I’m not a film major or minor. Neither is Noah Kane. We both came at filmmaking from documenting our outdoor adventures in high school. What started as surf sessions with friends translated into a video intern position at Communications during the second week of my freshman year. Now, as a senior with four years of filmmaking experience under the tutelage of the Colorado College video producers Arielle Mari and Rachel San Luis at the Communications Office, I feel capable of creating a professional-quality video that I so longingly hoped for when I first stepped foot on this campus during New Student Orientation. Although I never have taken a film class, “Come Curious” felt a little bit like my capstone project for filmmaking at CC. I filmed my roommate (Paul Longnecker, biker at 0:10. 0:59), friends I made during my block abroad in Serbia my freshman year (Georgie Nahess, 1:05), my best friend and skating buddy (Lili Uchida, 0:55, 1:03), my dance partner from Dance Workshop my sophomore year (Kaila Ablao 0:41), my political science advisor and academic mentor (John Gould 0:51), my co-leader for a student group for Christian athletes (CooXooEii Black 0:05) and many other students who were important to me during my time at CC. This video includes a number of people who made my CC experience special. From waking up early on weekends my freshman year with Lili Uchida to go snowboarding at Breckenridge to eating chips on Yampa field at midnight the last day of senior year with artist Michaela Khan (0:53), the people in this video represent something that makes CC such an inspiring place to live, study, and grow. These people are passionate and follow their curiosity. John Gould (0:51) is an extremely accomplished professor, author, and researcher but is one the most approachable, friendly, and caring individuals I’ve ever met. Georgie Nahess (1:05) is currently researching COVID-19 at Stanford University but can shred down a mountain of snow better than anybody I know.
"Come Curious" — Behind the Scenes
It’s for this reason that I wanted to make this film. I wanted to show others what I’ve been fortunate enough to witness from the faculty, staff, and students here at Colorado College. Whether I was just bringing a camera to a dance class or following around a student in their afternoon lab class, I wanted to document what CC felt like to me. CC has been an adventure, as has the process of filming this video. From attending CC hockey games (with a camera in the crowd or singing on the ice with the a cappella group sophomore year) to snowboarding at Keystone (with a camera strap on my neck or buried in knee-deep powder with friends), I’ve been provided with so many opportunities to discover joy, find peace, seek adventure, and explore curiosity here at Colorado College and I hope that’s what this film communicates to its audience.