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MDIA Students Create Documentaries In Ecuador Over Winter Break

The School of Media Arts & Studies is pleased to announce that sixteen students, twelve from MDIA, and four from the School of Journalism, spent their winter break making 12-15 minute documentaries in Ecuador as part of a three-week study abroad program in Non-fiction Storytelling & Production.

Based in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, the students tackled topics that included the city’s struggle to provide proper housing for its burgeoning population, and a look at how American ex-pats who have moved to Ecuador are sometimes assimilating, but most often not. 

The two other projects focused on Quito’s vibrant graffiti subculture, and how local musicians are trying to build a sustainable contemporary music scene.

The students also attended bi-weekly presentations with Ecuadorean filmmakers who screened and discussed their work, which addressed a rich range of subjects that provided historical, political and anthropological context for the student filmmakers, deepening their understanding of Andean culture.

“I think we had a very unique experience in Ecuador,” said MDIA student Caitlin Stone. “Our projects allowed us to get to know people in Quito. The people that we were interviewing invited us into their homes, fed us, and were constantly trying to make sure we were getting a full Ecuadorian experience. I think that if we weren't making those connections through the documentary it would have been a very different experience.”

Audio major Nick Sander agreed: “If you go to another country, go with a purpose. Producing a documentary led me to people and places within Ecuador that I would never have gotten to experience.”

Because only a handful of these Bobcats abroad spoke Spanish, college students from Quito worked with them as interpreters during the interview process, and helped with the translation of transcripts during the scripting stage.

The students prepared for the trip by attending eight fall semester orientation sessions conducted by associate professor Frederick Lewis, who designed and directed the program. “During those sessions we did much of our pre-production, researching topics, making contacts in Quito via Skype and email, doing production and scriptwriting exercises, and writing and presenting proposals. The students could not have executed these projects so well without all of this preparation. The projects were completed before we left Quito, and shown at a public screening. Their hard work shows in the final products.”

You can watch the completed documentaries below:

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