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Director's Note: October 2016

November 1, 2016

Saratoga Arts

LIB 113 Vision Board

All Hallows' Eve? All Saints' Day? Day of the Dead? Is the turn from October to November, from harvest to hunkering down, a time to commune with the past, unleash joy and mayhem in the present, or consider the future? As a historian, I tend to live in all three times, and this MDOCS newsletter has a little bit for each moment. As the Visionboard that greets students in LIB 113 shows, the heady mix of workshops, student-showcases, public events and collaboration continues full steam ahead.

Gazing backward, we learn about three students who explored sound, film and storytelling in internships and a study-abroad experience over the summer and Saratoga Springs' first international film festival, for which MDOCS and Skidmore hosted documentary screenings and a presentation on virtual reality and immersive storytelling

Leaning in to this semester, we accompany the Festival Programming class on an outing to the regional festival 15 Min Max (where Skidmore students Lisa Fierstein 16, and Claire Johnson '18, captured third and second place in the jury awards) and hear from students about the MDOCS Doc Date documentary photographer Daesha Devón Harris and Career Development Center field trip to meet media professionals in evidence-based storytelling from the New York Times to Sesame Street to ABC Digital to Broadway (where Derek Gregor, '00, who put together a panel of educators, producers, theatrical rights managers and performers delighted the crowd by inviting two performers to debut a song from his musical-in-progress).

PSA Students working  
Students in PSA course preparing a public service announcement

Behind the scenes, MDOCS students have produced a mid-semester pop-up exhibit (VoiceBoxing from Adam Tinkle's "Advanced Audio"  class), developed public service announcements for the Health and Wellness Center to discourage sexual- and gender-based misconduct, volunteered at the Saratoga Springs International Film Festival and shared Storytellers' Institute work with the campus. 

Networking Night at Saratoga Arts     Networking Night Networking Night at Saratoga Arts
      Networking Night at Saratoga Arts  


They also have had the chance to network with alums Lesley Norman (WNET) and take a sound workshop with Jesse Flower-Ambroch, '06. We have co-hosted with the Media and Film Studies and Arts Administration programs our second fantastic Networking Night with area professionals in arts, culture, media and history. And we continue to welcom national and international artists into class visits with Julie Winokur (Talking Eyes Media/Bring it to the Table film), photographer Miriam Romais, VR experimenter and documentary filmmaker Claudia Prett (Spain), multimedia artist Angus McCullough and musician and computer programmer Paul Hembree, who will be teaching a course in coding for "Virtual Reality" in spring.

Looking forward, applications are open for the 2017 Storytellers' Institute, which focuses on "space and place." We are reaching out nationally and internationally to encourage applications from documentarians working across media, and are hosting an information session on campus on November 9 (5:30 p.m., LIB 113). 

And there is a rich slate of spring '17 courses, from the media of sound, film and photography to archival storytelling, exhbition, web, mapping and data visualization.

Plus ... we're looking forward to DOC NYC on November 12 and 13 for the "Festival Programming" class to experience programming in the big city and get the chance to see some Skidmore alumni in action:  writer/director Scott Hamilton Kennedy hosts the world premiere of Food Evolution, narrated by physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and producer Teddy Kunhardt is screening JIM: The James Foley Story.  

And if you're looking for good watching in November, two new films put place at the center of the American experience. Ava duVernay's 13th, about the transition from slavery to imprisonment for many African Americans, is also screening at DOC NYC (as well as Netflix) and Lin Manuel Miranda's Hamilton's America, which debuted in October, can be watched at through November 18. The former takes us into the American prison system and the latter from the sites that the country's founding fathers moved through or were remembered , from colonial houses and battlefields to museums. monuments and Broadway. They both reach into the past, force us to reexamine the present and imagine a different and more just future.  Just what documentary storytelling can aspire to.

Jordana Dym