Storyboarding for Impact at Voice of America

By Dean’s Intern Vanessa Montalbano at Voice of America

Vanessa MontalbanoIn the Documentary and Special Projects Unit at Voice of America, no day is ever quite the same. But, everyday is certainly exciting. I work alongside Senior Executive Producer Beth Mendelson, and I like to think of us as partners in crime. Since my first day on the job, I have felt like an integral part of the staff and not just as an intern. Right now we are in the re-production phase of a documentary about Press Freedom in Turkey. That is, we have a completed documentary that needs a bit of renovation. So, most days, we juggle with a seven hour time difference from Turkey to talk on the phone with our on-the-field producer about possible characters, links, and footage that could enhance our story—without drawing too much attention to the project. This fear stems from Turkey being among the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists to work and live freely.

Usually, by noon, the floor of the office is blanketed with a map of paperwork, articles, thumbnails, and photos that only Beth and I are able to comprehend. We are storyboarding. This process is probably the most exciting for me, as I am able to work hands-on with material that will eventually become something that is important, impactful, and out in the world. The flow of such a documentary has to be perfect, so we put a ton of consideration into this exercise. Prior to my internship at VOA, I’ve never really considered a career in documentary filmmaking. Now, however, I am enamored by it. I have come to realize that this one of the most effective and empathetic channels of storytelling that allows you to reach an incredible audience. The possibilities are endless. In the coming weeks, I expect my time here to be just as thrilling and encouraging. Also, I am looking forward to learning more about the ins and outs of the film industry as deadlines approach for applications into national and international film festivals.