Documentary Filmmaking Up Close

By Dean’s Intern Madeleine Simon at Voice of America

My summer at Voice of America was both challenging and rewarding. As a production intern, I was part of a small team of journalists, producers, writers and editors working on a feature-length documentary about Boko Haram. The documentary—set to release this fall— gives an inside look into one of the most dangerous and elusive terrorist organizations, and also highlights the remarkable resilience of the Nigerian people as they reclaim their country.

From day one, I was thrown into the fast-paced yet exciting world of documentary-filmmaking. I spent the first few weeks of my internship transcribing interviews and B-roll. As we got further into post-production, I assisted in script writing, managed and organized hours of footage, and researched videos and potential interviews to include in the film.

One of the most fulfilling moments of my internship was when a group of executives at Voice of America, including the president Amanda Bennett, watched our trailer for the first time. I had an active role in creating the trailer, gathering the best footage and interviews, and giving input into music and graphics. I hadn’t seen the final piece until that day, so it was satisfying to see all of our hard work culminate into a successful trailer. Everyone seemed truly moved and inspired after watching the trailer, and wanted to immediately work on spreading awareness of the film. That day put into perspective how, through my journalistic skills, I can make an impact on an important project and global issue.