ElonDocs is the epicenter for faculty-sponsored student documentary work of all types at Elon. The program encourages and oversees student-produced documentary productions, offers screenings of well-known documentaries and serves as a link between professionals and students.
Faculty members Brooke Barnett and Ray Johnson said the idea behind the concept is to produce high-quality documentaries for screening and distribution outside of Elon. Final products are produced under the ElonDocs name in partnership with other programs at the university when appropriate. In keeping with Elon's emphasis on engaged learning, all work includes student participation.
"ElonDocs is really just putting the documentary work already going on in the Elon University under one umbrella name," Barnett explained. "The thing I most like about the concept is that students, staff and faculty will be working together on projects. Enormous energy comes from that collaboration and it had already been a time of learning for everyone involved in the first projects."
All ElonDocs projects come from faculty-and-student collaborations that begin with faculty mentorship. Guided by professors, students doing ElonDocs work gain hands-on experience in the art of creating documentaries. They plan, write, produce and direct documentaries on important social issues. Some of the projects originate in the School of Communications through independent projects that are linked to ElonDocs. Other projects will be faculty-led initiatives that include student participation.
ElonDocs works in partnership with other university programs to help faculty and students from outside the School of Communications realize the documentary portion of their work. Project Pericles and the Program for Ethnographic Research and Community Studies are two such partners.
A filmmaker in residence will also work on projects - 2005 graduate Anna Brodrecht was hired to fill this role in the program's inaugural year. Current Elon students are expected to be employed in production, publicity and graphics coordinator positions.
"As part of the Elon Program for Documentary Production, students learn the methods of documentary through their own productions and through collaboration on the projects of other students and faculty," Johnson explained. "ElonDocs will work with students on every stage of the project from story conception to promotional materials."
ElonDocs productions in their initial stages include a film on the gifted and talented in Kentucky; a production on the Lost Boys of Sudan; a profile of Pulitzer winner Horace Carter; a profile on Chris Hendricks, a man who hopes to be the first cerebral palsy sufferer to complete Navy SEAL training ; a history of Elon University; a work titled "Beneath the Falls"; and an illumination of malnutrition in Honduras.
Productions in advanced stages include "Kinderville"; an update on Elon's civil rights series, with new interviews and focus; the Black Mountain College project; and a film on David Rhodes.
The acclaimed production "Dying to Get In: Undocumented Immigration at the U.S./Mexico Border" was the first Elon student-led documentary to be produced under the ElonDocs banner. The film, by former student Brett Tolley, was the winner of the Best Student Film Award at the Plymouth Independent Film Festival July 21-24. It follows the stories of Ramon, a 50-year-old father of two who is trying to find a way to make the money he needs to put his son through school; Francesca, a 32-year-old mother, who explains how her faith in God will guide her husband and 5-year-old child across the desert; and a father who, guiding five children all under age 13, explains how choosing the right coyote can be the difference between life and death.
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