The Approach Is Key
The approach used by the class to produce “Disconnected” was untraditional to say the least. Led by accomplished documentary filmmaker Melody Gilbert (Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness, A Life Without Pain, Whole), eight dedicated Carleton College students conceived, filmed, and edited the movie in a documentary production class in about six months. Making the film meant that the students had to commit to each other in a fashion that is rarely, if ever, required by college classes.
After pitching ideas back in September, three students in the class volunteered to give up their “digital crutch” — computers. The rest of the students were assigned to shadow and film the “computerless three” to capture on video how they adapted and coped with their schoolwork, recreation and relationships. When the camera crews weren’t available, the three main characters were equipped with hand-held “video diary” cameras. All the filming occurred during one term (September-November).
After winter break, the students came back and faced the massive task of logging and transcribing 73 hours of footage, editing it and re-editing, trying to make a feature-length film. Several rough cuts later, here we are. Miraculously, all three of the main characters passed their classes and all of the students in the class have learned something about their generation: they need their computers. But at least now they know how to use a typewriter.