Rocky Mountain PBS has created a new series, called “In Short,” to showcase student films created in the Colorado Documentary Project, a two-block Colorado College Summer Session course taught by CC Assistant Professors of Film and Media Studies Dylan Nelson and Clay Haskell in 2014 and 2015.
The series preview, titled “Lives of Agriculture,” airs at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 18, and features four films by students who participated in CC’s Colorado Documentary Project. The films are “Labor of Love” by Francesca Mastrianni ’18; “The Farmer” and “Duke of the Chutes,” both by Dan Levitt ’15; and “Life by the Horns” by Jillian Banner ’17, a student at Carleton College who participated in the CC Summer Session course. Four additional episodes are scheduled to air in October on Rocky Mountain PBS (RMPBS), with Haskell and Nelson serving as executive producers of all five episodes.
“In Short” eventually will include student films from across Colorado, but the first five episodes feature exclusively work done in CC’s Colorado Documentary Project or documentary work done by a CC student. Seventeen of the films are from the summer documentary project; one is a 2015 thesis film that fit thematically with the others. “Clay Haskell and I created the Colorado Documentary Project out of a desire to showcase local stories for local audiences,” says Nelson.
The goal of the Colorado Documentary Project was to promote gripping storytelling, original research, and community-building through the production and distribution of documentary films about the region. The CC summer course provided a rigorous and creative filmmaking education, bridged by real-world professional experience. Students produced their own films while examining the history, codes, and conventions of the documentary form, as well as participating in externships at partnering Front Range organizations.
“RMPBS was supportive from the outset—part of the course involved writing a proposal, pitching the story to a panel of RMPBS programmers, and receiving in-progress feedback —so it’s terrific to see that relationship now culminating in broadcast,” Nelson says.
Julie Speer, senior executive producer for Rocky Mountain PBS, is enthusiastic about working with Colorado College faculty and students. “It has been such a pleasure to work with Dylan and Clay and their students over the past two years. We are continually inspired by both the students’ passion and professionalism and hope this partnership continues to grow,” she says. “All too often film students head to Los Angeles or New York, but Colorado has a strong creative industry and I’d love to see some of these talented students stay in Colorado and make their careers here.”
Some of the films to be featured can be previewed here. The complete “In Short” schedule includes:
- “Lives of Agriculture” (Episode 1). The series premiere on Aug. 18 will air again in October.
- “Expressions” (Episode 2) with films “Home” by Angela Kong ’17; “Zinesters: The Art of Individualism in the Era of Mass Media” by Djake Carroll ’16; “Movement for Movement’s Sake” by Thomas Crandall '16; and “Open” by McKenzie Ross ’15.
- “Place and Space“ (Episode 3) with films “Magic at Miramont” by Ana Pena ’15; “Center Stage” by Paul Partridge ’16, a student from Wesleyan; and “On Track” and “For Spacemen, and Earth Families,” both by Robert Mahaffie ’15.
- Helping Hands (Episode 4) with films “Zero Waste” by Mitra Ghaffari ’17; “The Rescuers” by Jeremy Flood ’15; and “Turning Point” by Charlie Theobald ’17.
- Domestic and Wild (Episode 5) with films “In Training’ by Josh Lauer ’19; “Thrown to the Wolves” by Brooke Davis ’16 and Nick Tucker ’17, a student from the University of Vermont; and “Movement,” by Eliza Densmore ’15, her thesis film.
“Many of the students whose work is profiled in ‘In Short’ had never made a film before our course,” Nelson says. “Excited as we are to see their movies air, it's important to remember that the process of filmmaking itself—listening, learning, creating, revising, and sharing—is what’s transformative. I’ve been moved by how profoundly students grow when they turn their attention thoughtfully outward, as they've done in making these projects.”