December 1, 2020

Immersed in History

If you’ve ever walked through the Convergent Media Center, chances are you’ve seen the glass case holding an Emmy trophy.

For the past two years, Capital University’s Film and Media Production department has included an Immersion course, in which students plan, design, and develop a short film. So far, two historical documentaries have been produced by the class, both of which were well-received: the regional Emmy on display was won by the 2018 project.

Previous documentaries created by the Immersion class have focused on locating Capital University in historical contexts, such as World War II and the 1960s.

This year, however, the group decided to focus on the turbulent conditions of the present coronavirus pandemic, highlighting how the international events of 2020 have impacted the campus community. It’s a fitting topic—one that will create a fascinating living record of witnessing history as it occurs.

The title of the documentary is “Spaces Between Us: A University (un)Masked.”

The topic of the film has, ironically, altered its own creation. The Immersion course, like all others at Capital, is observing social distancing in the classroom and wearing masks at all times.

Mary Clare Kunkel, senior Film and Media Production Major and one of the directors, notes several key differences that have affected production of this year’s documentary.

“We ourselves are affected by our subject matter. It’s more personal than usual,” Kunkel says.

In order to capitalize on the immediacy of the moment, the Immersion class has held open interviews this semester, inviting students to share their 2020 stories.

Capital students contribute stories of the past year to be used in “Spaces Between Us: A University (un)Masked.” Photo credit: Robert Cumberlander

Some of the interviews have been in-person, and others, in the spirit of technological hybridity, have been conducted virtually.

Also, the group is attempting to write their script concurrently with the unfolding of events. As new developments are playing out in real life, the class is working diligently to transfer them into the film.

“It’s still November so we don’t even have our ending yet!” Kunkel said. 

In order to ensure that the film is an accurate representation of the entire year, the course has been extended to next semester. Kunkel expects that the group’s continued work on the project will allow a focus on post-production details.

Due to the extension, the group has not scheduled a premiere date. An in-person showing is preferable, but that is subject to the changing health situation.

 Kunkel summarizes the project and the tumultuous year: “If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that everything can change very quickly.”

  • Emily is a sophomore English literature major at Capital, and a reporter and distribution manager for the Chimes. When she's not carting papers around campus, Emily enjoys watching Jeopardy, bothering her cats, and eating mac and cheese. edietz@capital.edu.

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