Junior communication major Madeline Baker gained a lot of attention when she posted in Overheard at Trinity, a popular Trinity Facebook group, saying that she was looking for people who might want to be interviewed about their personal drug use for a documentary.
Baker is currently taking Visual Communication: Documentary Film, and is in the process of making a documentary about drug use on Trinityâ€™s campus in order to raise discussion about the positive and/ or negative effects drugs can have on students.
â€œThis is really an endeavor to start a discussion about these stigmatized realities,â€ Baker said. â€œIâ€™m not pushing an agenda. I donâ€™t want to specificallyw say that â€˜drugs are badâ€™ or â€˜drugs are good.â€™ I just want to present the information as it is and tell the story how it is rather than putting an opinion behind it.â€
Bakerâ€™s initial problem was finding students who were willing to participate in her documentary.
â€œSince itâ€™s such a stigmatized issue, a lot of people donâ€™t want to come forward and have their testimonies recorded and shown to other people,â€ Baker said. â€œThatâ€™s a very difficult thing to ask for people to do, so I posted on Overheard at Trinity in order to forego that issue of having to directly talk to people and say, â€˜Hey, I know you do drugs, would you be interested in being in my film?â€™ I figured if I posted it somewhere thatâ€™s almost anonymous, people could come to me anonymously and not be weirded out by that.â€
Baker guaranteed to maintain the anonymity of those who volunteered to be interviewed by altering their voices and not showing their faces. She ended up securing 10 interviewees and began filming and interviewing them last week.
â€œIâ€™m focusing more on the personal aspects of everythingâ€”so like how using drugs is affecting them and their social and academic lives, whether or not itâ€™s affecting their emotional states, if theyâ€™re using it for medical reasons and things like that,â€ Baker said. â€œIâ€™m just trying to sift through the different types of stories that I know are out there.â€
Baker is also hoping to film a few interviewees doing drugs in front of the camera.
â€œI want to get those types of shots to show that this is actually whatâ€™s happening rather than just talking about it,â€ Baker said. â€œI want to show visuals of the things that actually do go down here.â€
Christopher Lucas, visiting professor of communication, is teaching the visual communication documentary class this semester. The class focuses on the basics of documentary and production skills.
â€œMy approach to teaching the class is really to ask the students to use their own experiences, interests and concerns to generate a topic to make a short film about,â€ Lucas said. â€œMy take on documentary is that itâ€™s the principled creative treatment of actuality, so itâ€™s really the filmmaker telling their story out of a world that theyâ€™re very clearly and very consciously filtering through their own perspective.â€
Lucas approved Bakerâ€™s topic after the two of them met with other faculty members and discussed it.
â€œMaddieâ€™s topic is pretty interesting,â€ Lucas said. â€œHer treatment of it is pretty expressive and it seems like sheâ€™s going to be a little more lyrical and poetic in her way of approaching the subject.â€
There are 15 students in the documentary film class. They are all working on making documentaries that will be viewed by the class at the end of the semester.
â€œIâ€™m really looking forward to seeing what all of these students come up with,â€ Lucas said. â€œThere are so many amazing stories out there, and I think they get more interesting when we see them through the lens of a particular perspective.â€