“Without teamwork, this piece would not have happened, and the inspiring story would not have been told,” Taylor senior Anna Rodman said.
The documentary, which Rodman produced as a part of department co-chair and professor of film and media production Kathy Bruner’s Documentary Filmmaking class, is titled “Lizzi: Deeper Than Water.” Directed by Gabriel Burch, the eleven-minute film tells the story of Paralympic swimmer Lizzi Smith as she overcomes social and physical battles.
Rodman and Burch’s work won awards in several film competitions this summer, among them the Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival, the Hobnobben Film Festival and the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival.
Another senior Film student, Darien (DT) Taylor, directed two award-winning films during the 2021-2022 academic year. “Kojak: A Fuller Life” also came out of Bruner’s Documentary Filmmaking class, whereas “Can I Get a Job” was made in a Film-Workshop class co-taught by John and Kathy Bruner. Between the two, Taylor’s films won awards at the Indy Film Fest, the Indianapolis Black Documentary Film Festival, the Hobnobben Film Festival, the Detroit Black Film Festival and the Student World Impact Film Festival.
While they have been recognized with awards for their work, Rodman and Taylor are students first, and they learned their share of lessons along the way.
“I learned how to be more assertive in what I wanted to see out of the film... I grew as a filmmaker by understanding pace a lot better and having to learn to ‘kill my darlings’ (or get rid of things that don’t support the main idea of the story),” said Taylor of his work on “Kojak: A Fuller Life.”
On a less-academic note, Taylor was grateful to learn more about the team that helped him put the film together.
“Marissa Williams (editor), Jon Bomers (cinematographer) and Hannah Caruana (producer) were the best teammates I could have ever asked for,” he said.
About “Can I Get a Job,” Taylor said he learned to believe in his craft. He also learned a lot about equipment he hadn’t used before, which he said helped him tell the story the way he wanted to.
As for Rodman, the themes of her time creating “Lizzi: Deeper Than Water” were teamwork, sacrifice, hard work, time management and, most importantly, the strength of the Lord.
“To produce excellent work, you should expect to put in hard work and time,” Rodman said. “This can be exhausting, but it is through the exhaustion we learn to rely on Christ and each other.”
She also emphasized how much she learned from teammates and how she felt happy that winning the award meant more people could be inspired by Lizzi Smith’s story.
“Can I Get a Job,” “Kojak: A Fuller Life” and “Lizzi: Deeper Than Water” are just a few of the award-winning films that were produced by the film department. Others include “Paper Chasers” and “Dream Soda,” both from the Narrative Filmmaking class, "Tango Para La Vida," made in the International Production class and “180,” from the Documentary Filmmaking class.