Two Mercer student films to be screened at Macon Film Festival

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three students interview a man on camera
Mercer University students Sloan Aubrey, Macee Palmer and McKenna Kaufman interview Gregory Luna Golya for their project on the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. Photo by Evey Wilson Wetherbee

Two films made by Mercer University students have been accepted as official selections for the 2023 Macon Film Festival

The films — Ocmulgee: A Movement and Behind the Curtains of the Middle Georgia Nutcracker — will be screened during the festival’s Local Stories Showcase, which is planned for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Museum of Arts and Sciences. The festival runs Aug. 17-20 at sites throughout Macon. 

Students made the films as part of two classes taught by Evey Wilson Wetherbee, assistant professor of practice in journalism at Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism

“As a journalist and as a person who really cares about local journalism, it’s so exciting to have two pieces that are made by people who live here and tell very local stories about things that mean a lot to this community,” Wetherbee said. 

Ocmulgee: A Movement 

A group walks through the Ocmuglee Mounds
Tracie Revis, director of advocacy for the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative, leads Mercer University students in the storytelling for social change class through the Ocmulgee National Historical Park, explaining its history and significance for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Photo by Evey Wilson Wetherbee

Ocmulgee: A Movement grew out of Wetherbee’s storytelling for social change class, an advanced theory and production class focused on media storytelling as an agent for civic engagement and positive change. Students viewed and analyzed documentaries and then produced their own as a class. 

The movement for Macon’s Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park to become Georgia’s first national park seemed like a natural fit for the documentary’s topic, Wetherbee said.  

“We learned so much, and the students were so open to learning from Tracie Revis, who is Muscogee and the director of advocacy for the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative,” she said. “Tracie came in and really spoke about being Muscogee and what that means and what the experience of being Native American is like and why this place is so important as the ancestral grounds and homeland.” 

Students researched the topic, made a list of people to interview, wrote questions and scheduled interviews. Students ran sound and the cameras. Afterward, they transcribed the interviews. Katie Linkner, a Class of 2023 graduate who majored in journalism, was the main editor.

students interview man sitting in chair
Mercer University students Sloan Aubrey, Sara Brito and Bryant Jackson interview Brian Adams, founder of the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative, for their documentary. Photo by Evey Wilson Wetherbee

“It was entirely student produced,” Wetherbee said. “The film really is from all these different minds, which I think is really neat and beautiful.” 

Linkner said she spent 20 to 25 hours working on the 22-minute film.  

“It was fun for sure and a lot of learning and growing,” said Linkner, who is now pursuing a Master of Business Administration at Mercer. “It was something I’d never really done before. I’d created short documentaries, like two to three minutes, just for class projects and practicum and things like that, so I was really excited to work on this and have something different to expand my portfolio.” 

Working on the project taught her not only technical skills but also about the park itself. 

“I didn’t realize how special Ocmulgee was, but making this film made me care for the cause for it to become Georgia’s first national park, so I’m really hoping that happens,” she said.

Behind the Curtains of the Middle Georgia Nutcracker 

Lux Corrona made Behind the Curtains of the Middle Georgia Nutcracker as a sophomore in Wetherbee’s field production class. 

“The final assignment was to try to capture what’s called vérité footage, so unfolding action is what that translates to,” Wetherbee said. “The goal is to put my students in a place where they can capture unfolding action and try to use that to create a structure for the film rather than only relying on interviews.” 

Corrona said she filmed two rehearsals and two performances of the Nutcracker of Middle Georgia, a signature event in Macon every December. The seven-minute film highlights all the work that goes into making the Nutcracker a success. 

“I wanted to show more of the beauty of the process and capture little moments behind the scenes and on stage and of people setting up and breaking down” Corrona said. “I captured parents that had been volunteers for years helping out. I captured the dance director, Alice Sheridan, talking to the girls and leading them through the process of everything. And then I captured from the beginning to the end of the show.” 

Wetherbee said Corrona did a remarkable job. 

“She really captured moments as they were unfolding, and she noticed so many little details that I think really put a person there at the rehearsal seeing this thing come to life,” she said.

 

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