Award-winning student documentaries air today

The School of Journalism and Graphic Communication will present a documentary series to educate students on the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS and the black perception of beauty, among other stories, at 6 p.m. on April 19 in the SJGC Lecture Hall.

Earlier in January, students in professor Kenneth Jones’ Specialized TV News class were asked to share ideas and submit a one-page pitch that would assist them in gathering leads for documentaries.

As a result, students received several ideas and angles for their documentaries.

“We had to pitch three ideas,” said Britny Ingram, a 21-year-old broadcast journalism student said. ” From the three ideas Jones combined the ideas into one central theme.” Long days and nights, along with reading and research, dominated the three months of preparation the documentaries took to complete.

“I spent two days straight in the ‘J-School’ editing with a pillow, blankets and plenty of Red Bulls,” said TeJay Henderson, a 22-year-old senior broadcast journalism student from Tampa. Henderson said the late nights of editing and filming were indeed worth it.

“I was very passionate about the assignment, so dedicating the time it took to produce a great documentary was well worth it,” Henderson, said.

Two of the five best documentaries were winners of the Florida AP Awards.

“Students will be eligible to win awards for their documentaries in the fall,” Jones said. “I think the students did an excellent job.”

“Language: does it matter or not?” is one of the many documentaries that will make its debut.

Created by students Henderson and Ingram, ‘Language’ reflects on the impact of language in the American culture.

For Ingram, a Fort Lauderdale native, the preparation was the most difficult part of the film making process.

“It took two weeks before we started filming to do the documentary,” Ingram said.

The documentary was divided into four parts – the manner in which dialect reflects a human’s place in society, assimilation, the beginnings of black literature and its impact on society.

Even though the documentary has many themes and symbols, viewers are encouraged to pay close attention to understand the meaning of each documentary,” Henderson said.

Dorothy Bland, chairwoman of the division of journalism and graphic communication, said the documentary night is an opportunity to showcase some of the best work done by the students.

One such project is a series of mini-documentaries called the “Guardians of the Dream,” produced with a grant the school received from PBS.

“I am very proud to say students produced ‘Guardians of the Dream,’ which focuses on student activism,” Bland said.

Jones agrees with Bland’s enthusiasm toward the showing of the student-produced documentary.

“The show will be an excellent opportunity for students to show their talents,” Jones said.

Jones said the documentaries will air on FAMU-TV 20.

“A number of documentaries will air on television and in the future,” he said. “We want to put some of them on Florida A&M University’s Web site too.”