As we all face the challenges of our new reality folded into social distancing and sheltering in place, students at AU’s School of Communication with the Center for Environmental Filmmaking are practicing their creative resilience finding fresh and exciting ways to tell stories from home. From the heart of Washington DC to the foothills of North Carolina to rural Michigan, these emerging filmmakers are doing their best to find the new normal amid COVID-19. Hyatt Mamoun, a second-year graduate student, said that, for her, the most important thing is to stay inspired and creative, “Personally, I’ve been sticking to this thought everyday in terms of conservation filmmaking work: Just because we’re home doesn’t mean we can’t tell stories. We have a ton of projects available at our fingertips through archival work, compilations, public domain footage, and even buried in your own footage.” Meanwhile, many students are making the most out of their very own backyards, and Grace Eggleston is doing just that, saying, “I’m lucky enough to be at home in the Midwest right now, with forested property to explore. I’m trying to get outside most days to film or photograph spring as it’s slowly showing itself, which can be hard since it has been snowing a lot too (it’s cold!). I’ve found that shooting little things like frogs, bugs, and leaves is therapeutic for me! I’m also in AU’s immersive filmmaking class this semester and have been filming underwater 360-degree footage to mix things up!” Fellow first-year graduate student Jess Wiegandt feels similarly, “I personally have found the newts in a local pond to be really active right now and have enjoyed filming them scurrying around.” Jess also echoed a sentiment many other students shared in that this unprecedented time at home has been key to polishing up projects previously shot and worked on, saying, “While projects have been interrupted, this is a great opportunity to fine tune stories, look for grants, and get creative with what you have access to.”
While looking ahead at what’s to come is a little dizzying, the students with the Center for Environmental Filmmaking are finding inspiration in their everyday lives, pushing their own creative resilience to the next level. Whether it be their backyard, a local pond, or public archival footage of animal behavior, these storytellers continue to do just that: Tell stories.