Recently, Helen Scheer took some of our students, attending as “Fellows”, to the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, NC.

Our students were kind enough to keep a journal each day, and we’re happy to present some entries from them so you can get a snap shot of the festival and their time there.

Kayla Velloso (BA/Communications ’17)

Today was full of meeting talented filmmakers, talking to interesting festival goers, and, of course, seeing incredible films.

The first thing we did this morning was watch
How To Dance In Ohio.
Yesterday, we went to a workshop with the director of the film, and after learning about the process of making, it we were all dying to see it. It’s cliché but I laughed, cried, and it was a great film overall.

Due to a previous engagement, I missed the beginning of a talk with filmmaker Ryan White, but I did catch the second half of it, which I found to be very encouraging. The main take away I got from hearing him speak was that you have to put in a lot of work to make documentaries, especially when you’re just starting out. But, eventually things become easier and all the hard work you put into working for other people and working on your passion projects in your 20s pays off.

Afterwards, I branched off from the group to see an animated documentary, because making an animated documentary is my dream project and career goal. The animated film,
Last Day of Freedom
, was depressing and the feature length documentary that followed, called
, was both depressing and infuriating. Both films were very well done and great in that they really made me feel something, even if that something was an unpleasant emotional reaction to heartbreaking subjects.

Later, I rejoined the group, and we saw one final film for the day,
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
. That was another great film that was slightly less depressing than the previous two, but still infuriating in a way that inspires me to create positive change in society.

I had an amazing second day at the festival. We watched so many incredible documentaries. I feel so inspired to go out in the world and create films of my own, as well as continue to watch other documentaries and learn about filmmaking.

students at full frame film festival

Krysta Mortland (BFA/News and Documentary ’15)

We arrived at the festival this morning in good spirits, extremely inspired by last night’s opening film,
. It was such a beneficial experience sitting in on the Q&A after the film with the directors and the editor. I learned about storytelling techniques and filming under high-risk situations.

Today with the fellowship program, we ate lunch with all of the other fellows, as well as Elizabeth Chai and Jimmy Chin, directors of
! Hearing about how they crafted this beautiful doc gave me great ideas about different things I can do with my own films and I can’t wait to get back to work on them.


Sarah Salvas (BFA/News and Documentary ’17)

To me, the entire Full Frame Documentary Film Festival was one of connection, inspiration, and enlightenment. This was especially true for a first time film festival “goer” like myself. I was completely immersed in everything related to documentary, which is unlike anything you can really grasp inside the classroom.

Upon entering the Durham Convention Center, we were given our “Fellows” badges, along with tickets to certain screenings and a little swag bag. We then proceeded to our first film for opening night,
, which is the story of three climbers who embark on an incredibly difficult and treacherous hike up to the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru. Along with a wonderful story, the film was beautiful and full of stunning visuals. I left the theater with a great sense of awe and insight.

The following day, we had our first master class, which was with the filmmakers of
, Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi. We were all very excited to have the opportunity to interact with them. It was great to hear what they had to say about how they got into the documentary business and how their lives have progressed over the years. The energy from that whole experience stayed with everyone throughout the day.

students at full frame film festival

For the remainder of the weekend, we continued to meet many people who had profound effects on all of us. After a screening of
3 ½ Minutes
, we met the father of Jordan Davis, who was shot at a gas station in Florida a few years ago, which is something that is going to stay with me; the film will be on HBO later this year.

We also met Ryan White, who made
The Case Against 8
(Oscar shortlist!) and
Good Ol’ Freda
, who offered great advice about where to go after film school and how to work your way up in the documentary world. There are so many more memories I have from this weekend that I could go on forever talking about. Hopefully next year I will have the opportunity to attend again as a fellow!

Monica Petruzzelli (BFA/News and Documentary ’16)

4 days, 6 fellows, and dozens of documentaries made for a whirlwind of a trip to North Carolina. Over the past few days my colleagues and I have had the opportunity to travel across the county to see world premieres of this year’s leading documentaries at the Full Frame Film Festival. Some of my highlights include meeting directors such as Jimmy Chin (
), Ryan White (
Good Ol’ Freida, The Case Against 8
) and networking with people from around the world who share my passion.

From the screenings to the Q&A’s with the industry’s best, I know the knowledge I have gained from the fest will stay with me throughout my career. The Full Frame Film Festival reminded me why I set out to pursue documentary making – to inform, inspire and incite change in my community and beyond.

students at full frame film festival

Ceylan Carhoglu (BFA/Film Production ’16

This is our last day at the Full Frame Festival. It’s been such a great experience to meet the filmmakers of award winning documentaries and having the opportunity to learn how they came to the places they’re right now.

This festival is such a supportive environment. You get to ask the directors and producers any questions you have and hear their advice for you. My favorite advice was from Jimmy Chin, the director of
: in order to make it in this business he said “Commit and figure it out!”- that’s how he started filming for Nat Geo.

Throughout this weekend, I’ve cried and laughed at the same time and learnt that there’s no limit to how you tell a story- everyone has their own unique style and they work in different ways. Generally, I can’t see more than 3 movies in a day but even the long lines didn’t stop us from seeing more than 3 a day. I can’t wait to go back next year!

Thanks to all the students who attended and shared their stories with us!