In This Story
When George Mason University students sign up for Video Production for Social Change, they won’t just learn in a traditional classroom setting, they’ll make an impact in their community.
“It's such a unique experience as a student, particularly a production student, to get hands-on, real-world experience working with a client,” said Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and Mason adjunct professor Rebekah Wingert-Jabi, who taught the Film and Video Studies (FAVS) course in Fall 2022.
The course is open to everyone, said Wingert-Jabi, and no prerequisite courses are required. The class works with a different local partner each semester, and students create videos based on their organization's mission statement. Their most recent partner was the nonprofit organization Cornerstones, which serves families and individuals in need of housing, food, finances, and childcare assistance, among others.
“I'm just really proud to know that Mason students within this department are community advocates by heart,” said Margaret Anne Lara, Cornerstones vice president of marketing and communications.
“The students came at the project from such a professional point of view. They carefully crafted storyboards that truly brought to life the importance of community connection,” Lara said. “Each production spotlighted an emerging challenge faced by families living along the Dulles corridor region— affordable housing, food insufficiency, economic security, and resiliency for children and families—as well as how Cornerstones’ faith-based community partners make a meaningful impact through their support of our organization.”
“I was also impressed with the technical expertise of these talented young filmmakers. It was clear they had excellent training through their GMU studies. The final products were well received by our Board of Directors and staff, and have already been used as part of our fundraising and communications and marketing outreach.”
The course consisted of four student groups, each of which took on a different aspect of Cornerstones' mission for their videos.
“[The course] was incredibly valuable; filmmaking is often a teamwork experience and the students really saw the value of that,” said Wingert-Jabi. “A student bought in her conflict analysis perspective and a native Spanish speaker in her group conducted field interviews in Spanish.”
Junior film and video studies major Olivia Williams previously worked with the media crew for her church, in Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Chesapeake, Virginia. She and her group members had a faith-based angle to their video.
“We tried to show the importance of not just one, but all faiths, and how Cornerstones is here to help everybody. The most rewarding part is just being able to share their stories,” said Williams.
Two Mason students got hired as Cornerstones interns, and will continue to work with Lara and the rest of the Cornerstones team.
“The responsibilities of this internship are much greater than anything I've had prior to it, but after taking this course I'm ready to take on those responsibilities,” said senior film and video studies major Blake Smith. “It was incredibly beneficial, not only for developing my own professional skills, but also knowing what is expected of me from employers."
“I recommend this course to students who want to know more about filming documentary style content, and who want to work in film or maybe even start their own production company one day,” said Smith.