Behind the Scenes of Making Documentaries at Voice of America

By Dean’s Intern Joe Kelly at Voice of America

Joe KellyIt’s hard for me to summarize my internship at Voice of America this past summer in just a short paragraph.  Throughout the last few months, I have worked for the award-winning documentary team at VOA with the extremely talented Beth Mendelson. One thing that I have learned in the documentary-making process is that it takes not one, not two, not three….well to be honest I’m not sure how many times it takes to redo a proposal because we still haven’t been approved for our upcoming VOA 80th Anniversary film.  It takes a lot of work, but I am so extremely grateful to be a part of what I know will be an excellent documentary when it finally comes out this February. Writing a proposal takes a lot of thinking, writing, and reworking.  There are times when Beth, Katy, and I will just start laughing because we’re all so exhausted.  I am also getting to see how a government agency works, which is very interesting.  I have been able to partake in phone calls and meetings with fellow VOA employees, potential interview subjects, and many more during my time here. Just last week, we spoke with a Russian journalist who was tortured and nearly killed simply for reporting the truth in her country. I get to hear amazing stories like this almost everyday.  Finally, Beth has an amazing sense of humor which makes the day extremely enjoyable.  A few days ago, I mistakenly confused former Taliban leader Mullah Omar with a friend of Beth’s that we were considering interviewing.  “No Joe, Mullah Omar and I have not broken bread” she jokingly said.  Not one of my smartest moments, to say the least.