How do you make a documentary when you cannot leave the house?
This is a question that many journalists and journalism students are struggling with right now, as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic. Our MA students on the University of Westminster course in Media and Diversity are among them; after spending most of the term working on a documentary group project, they have had to suddenly pivot to creating a ten minute mobile documentary from home once the universities closed, and the country went into lockdown.
On 9 April 2020, MDI Communications Manager Anna Lekas Miller lead an extracurricular seminar on how to get creative while creating a video from home for the MA students. During the lecture, Ms. Lekas Miller explained how to instruct sources to film themselves, how to find archive video and images online, and the importance of choosing the right music and sound effects to create the desired emotion of the film during the editing process.
“In a way, this is an amazing opportunity,” said Ms. Lekas Miller, an experienced journalist and video producer. “Now you will have a short documentary from this piece of your life, and how you experienced this historical moment.”
Now the students will choose a diversity issue—such as gender, race, class, age, or disability—and create a short film on their mobile device exploring that theme, perhaps using the COVID-19 pandemic as subject matter. Ms. Lekas Miller encouraged them to use their own videos that they film for social media to tell the story of the lockdown in a unique way.
“Everything is material,” she said. “Even something you film for an Instagram story, or casually for a friend is something documenting this time.”
MDI will be publishing a selected series from the students’ final projects on our YouTube channel and website.