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  • Sincerely, Southern

GS film department adapts to COVID changes

By Zoe Boylan

Photo courtesy of Joel Boynter

The Georgia Southern Film Department has faced many challenges through COVID-19 but have persevered.

It seems that these challenges may have impacted the film department for the worst but these challenges have impacted the department and students for the better. One of the main impacts of COVID-19 on the department was the senior film project.

With the senior film project being the collective year end event, there was a lot on the line for the students creating the senior projects. There were seven projects being submitted this semester, more than ever before.

With this being the first semester that the senior project was offered in only one semester instead of two and with the effects of the coronavirus, students had to work smarter and harder. John Goshorn explained that this semester, faculty and students have had to work harder than ever before.

“The other interesting wrinkle about it for this year is the folks who are graduating this Spring are the first graduating class to take a senior project as a single semester course,” said John Goshorn, assistant professor in multimedia film and production.

With COVID-19 still being a main factor on campus, there was a high concern for students’ safety on set and in class. Goshorn took pride in keeping everyone safe and required them to wear a mask and keep them six feet apart.

When on set, it's hard to keep everyone socially distanced so the crews and people on set were regularly COVID tested. Everyone had to pass the Georgia Film Academy COVID compliance courses and turn in certificates. There were really high stakes to keep everyone safe and prepared to finish their project.

The students showed that they could do this not only for themselves but for the faculty and their family as well. There is one documentary project that will be screened, a reality cooking show, a stop motion picture and four other short films.

Goshorn is proud of the work his students have done this semester with the challenges that COVID-19 brings on. He is looking forward to the screening of his students' work on May 8th on Sweetheart Circle.

“My senior project is my ability to show off to my professors and faculty what I have learned in the Multimedia Film and Production department,” said Caroline Gianes, a GS senior. “It means a whole lot to me and we’ve looked forward to this class and the ability to make our projects since we entered the program.”

Many of the students working on a senior project had already thought about what they were going to work on as early as August and some have been thinking about it since they got into this major. The senior project is a big deal for the students to be able to show what they can do.

“My colleagues Keegan Wood, Joe Pollock and I started writing and planning our project in August and we are about to finish editing it,” said Gaines.

There is a lot of planning that goes into these projects and a lot of time in and outside of the class from working on scripts to planning their shoot. There's a lot to do before they can even think of going on set. Students worked on creating lighting charts and shot lists to present to professor Goshorn right away so they could begin shooting.

This was especially important this semester with preproduction and production crammed into one semester. There was little time for error and being late.

In preparing for production of the senior projects, many of them had to raise money to fund their project. A record was set this semester for the most money raised for a project by Caroline Gaines and her group for the department.

“Keegan Wood had $2,000 that we are incredibly thankful for and then we just crowd-funded the rest,” said Gaines. “Our families and friends donated and we raised over $3,000 which broke records in our department.”

Some of the groups brought in real paid actors to be in their film. They put ads out that they needed actors for their production and people submitted applications.

“We had hundreds of submissions,” said Gaines. “We ended up with four actors from Atlanta.”

The project was really up to them in terms of what they wanted to do with the money they raised and how they wanted to use it. Money that was raised was also used to get the cast and crew COVID tested.

For most of the production, the students were left on their own to shoot their projects. With COVID-19, it was hard for Goshorn to oversee their production closer and that was something he wished he could’ve done better on.

“I haven’t been able to oversee as closely what is happening with their productions,” said Goshorn.

Most of the productions were local and some were at farthest two hours away. For the local productions, Goshorn visited and made sure the production was running smoothly and that everyone was safe.

There was a challenge of keeping up with the projects because there wasn't regular class time where Goshorn could meet and discuss with his students what was going on. He couldn’t communicate with his students as well as he could before.

“I haven't even had the mental space to even remember the little ‘oh how is this part of the project going?’” said Goshorn. “Because now I have to write it down or schedule a zoom call.”

Class time and being able to talk with his students is a very important part of this class and how they would communicate. There is a delay in communication that some may suffer from.

Ultimately, Goshorn believes that there are about two to three projects that could come out of this and be submitted to a film festival. He says that this is one of the more successful semesters with the quality of the work the students have put in.

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