What experiences, personality traits led you to videography? I was practically born with a camera in my hand. Photography is the first hobby I remember having. After taking my first editing class as a 12-year-old, I sought ways to make films. By middle school, I dreamed of being a famous YouTuber but developed that dream to the wider scope of filmmaking. In college, I’ve found joy in producing videos stylized as short documentaries, telling the stories of businesses and individuals. Combining both short-media content and filmmaking, I find videography to be the best of both worlds.
As a videographer, what opportunities have been presented to you that other students may not have? I’m constantly surprised by what opportunities arise each year. Just last semester, I was given the chance to board a Cessna aircraft and film aerial shots of Southern Illinois. My first gig as a freshman was filming a home football game on the field with a packed stadium, and at that point, I thought I had walked into a movie. Through different gigs and events, I’ve managed to film in every building on campus and speak with multiple department heads and students. I’ve gotten free passes to black tie events, I met Malcolm X’s daughter and gained access to areas of campus most students don’t. Best of all, holding a camera leads to countless interactions with people. The camera has an ability to create unexpected relationships. Being a videographer for SIU the past 3 ½ years has been the highlight of my college experience.
What about SIU makes for good film? Are there people, places or events on campus that lend themselves to film more than others? SIU students make for great filming because they each have personal stories to tell. Many students are doing outstanding work in their field, each with their own passions and side projects. I’ve found so much success interviewing these individuals for Student Spotlights on SIU’s social media platforms and find joy in walking in their shoes. They’re the ones that make the filming process interesting because I never know where they might take me. I even filmed a coal mining rescue team practice in a pitch black maze. I was pumped about the helmets with headlights we got to wear.
What has surprised you while learning about videography and film? I’ve been surprised by how open strangers can become when they see a camera. It’s as if you’re already acquaintances, but only in the right setting. There’s a distinction between private space and the mindset someone has at a public event, and I love it when people come up to interact with me. I’m also surprised how often people freeze up as soon as you put a microphone on them for an interview. I’ve learned tricks to help get their mind off the camera and have a normal conversation.
Where do you hope videography will take you? I hope videography will continue to be a lifelong side job, giving me the ability to pick and choose gigs. While it has been incredibly beneficial learning to tell a story in less than two minutes, I want to do more long-form narration in my career.
What have you learned about SIU while filming for the Day of Giving? I learned about what goes into producing an advertisement that is meant to be representative of an entire university. Almost all the departments we worked with were willing and excited to be involved in a project designed to benefit students. I learned the women I worked for were bosses at what they do, and I’d do well to be as strong and assertive as they are. The process gave me a new-found appreciation for how all the gears turn at SIU.
Why would you like to see donors support Movie Camera Movement (MCM)? What does MCM offer students that is valuable? I would like donors to support Movie Camera Movement (MCM), a student-run filmmaking organization, because I’ve personally been involved with it for a few years. First, there are two things I don’t doubt. Films make a huge impact in shaping the minds of young adults, and when it comes to budget cuts, humanities and arts are at the top of the list. MCM is one of the fastest-growing student organizations on campus and is open to all majors. MCM cultivates a diverse and rich environment for anyone to share their voice.
View the full-length SIU Day of Giving Video:
Support students like Amanda Neuhouser on SIU Day of Giving, March 1: https://siuday.siu.edu/