A wave of support from students, faculty and family members packed the 150-seat auditorium in LaFetra Lecture Hall on Sunday for the communications department’s Senior Screening.
The crowded auditorium left some seatless spectators spilling into the equally cluttered aisles just to get a closer look at what their friends had created.
A culmination of creative efforts, the University’s television and broadcast journalism students gave spectators a glimpse into many lives, some real and some imaginary for the event.
Hosted by Professor of Communications Don Pollock, the two-and-a-half hour screening showcased both news and narrative works produced primarily by the department’s seniors.
“It was a great, great experience,” senior TV broadcast major Kaitlin Hollingsworth said.
She was the writer, director and co-producer of the psychological thriller “Hunting Shadows.”
“I was really excited that a lot of people turned out to support, not only my film, but the three other films, and the journalism projects as well,” Hollingsworth said.
To pull off a senior project, students need to engage in all aspects of filmmaking, from writing and rewriting a script to perfection, to assembling a complete crew to help throughout the filming process, to casting, to scouting locations, all the way down to the editing process, Pollock, who advised several productions this year, said.
Hollingsworth’s cerebral thriller was one of the three narrative films screened at the event, with a provocative open ending that set it apart from the other two decidedly more lighthearted works.
“I’m more of the filmmaker that likes to leave people guessing,” Hollingsworth said.
Senior TV broadcast major McKinley Pollock directed “The Transformation,” a comedic take on the classic horror genre that follows a young boy who believes he is becoming a werewolf while actually undergoing puberty.
“I was nervous, because I had seen it so many times the jokes weren’t funny to me anymore,” he said.
“I was really hoping people would laugh, and they did,” he said.
“One of the most gratifying parts of being a filmmaker is getting to see the audience reacting,” McKinley Pollock said.
Senior TV broadcast major Ashley Rozatti directed and wrote “She’s Glamma,” a raunchy comedy about a girl and her outrageous grandmother on a day trip looking for a special prescription.
“I was almost brought to tears when I heard everyone laughing,” Rozatti said.
“I was like, ‘Oh good, they think it’s funny,’” she said.
Rozatti has already lined up additional screenings for the short film.
The next step for the filmmakers is to start submitting to festivals in hopes of picking up accolades to build a strong industry rapport.
While the narrative portion of the event both tickled and kept the audience guessing, broadcast journalism majors’ shared insights gleaned from investigative news stories.
The final stories were the results of months of in-depth research and reporting, Valerie Cummings, associate professor of broadcast journalism, said.
Spurred on by the Joe Cross documentary “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead,” senior broadcast journalism major Jacqueline Melendez investigated the emerging trend of juicing, a health system that relies on consuming various types of vegetable and fruit juices to flush toxins out of the body.
Melendez hopes her story can increase health awareness.
“It really inspired me to live a happier life, and I wanted to share that with others,” Melendez said.
“Through this assignment, I was hoping to do that, at least to really help people think about what they’re putting into their bodies,” she said.
For several journalists, increasing awareness was a key motivation in their senior project selections.
After receiving treatment for her own depressive episode in 2012, broadcast journalism major Jetske Wauran sought to highlight the plight of college students struggling with depression.
“I didn’t know who to turn to; I didn’t know how to speak up; I didn’t know how to tell anyone my story because I was ashamed of these guilty feelings,” Wauran said.
“I realized, maybe I could use this as a tool to help other people,” Wauran said.
For the student reporters, the senior screening presented a chance to be recognized for the public service of journalism.
“As journalists, you’re doing these stories for the public; you’re not doing them for yourself,” Cummings said.
“It’s nice for them to have an opportunity to share their work with the public,” Cummings said.
Des Delgadillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.