DFP Students Launch Production House

When Wake Forest departments and organizations repeatedly requested the storytelling skills of DFP filmmakers, a group of entrepreneurial-minded students decided to make the most of this opportunity.  Chris Zaluski, Sam Smartt and Kim Dryden developed a business plan, secured a location in scenic Reynolda Village and launched Wrought Iron Productions a video production house managed and staffed by DFP students.

WIP is dedicated to providing affordable, high-quality storytelling and video production services to the Wake Forest community while offering graduate students entrepreneurial and professional work experience to supplement their academic training and help offset their tuition expenses.


Alums Screen at Sundance, Tribeca and Hot Docs

A former student premiering a film at the Tribeca Film Festival is a thrill, three alums screening at Tribeca at the same time is beyond thrilling. DFP faculty members Sandy Dickson, Cindy Hill and Cara Pilson are delighted with the recent A-list film festival success of their former University of Florida students. From Sundance to Tribeca these former students are making their mark as storytellers.

Running from Crazy, directed by Barbara Kopple and co-produced by David Cassidy (2002 UF alum) is following its Sundance premiere with screenings at Tribeca, FullFrame Documentary Film Festival and Sundance London.

LET THE FIRE BURN, directed by Jason Osder (2001UF alum) will premiere in the World Documentary Competition section of Tribeca. The film will also screen in the Special Presentations program at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival and in the San Francisco International Film Festival in the feature documentary competition.

Michael Beach Nichols (2009 UF alum) and Deidre Schoo’s film Flex Is Kings will also make its world premiere at Tribeca. In addition, An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story, a film John Aldrich (2000 UF alum) worked on as co-producer, cinematographer and editor recently made its premiere at SXSW.

The faculty could not be more proud of the work these alums have produced and of the contribution they are making to the documentary filmmaking community.

RiverRun Screens DFP Student Films

The RiverRun, International Film Festival, a premiere regional film festival based in Winston-Salem, will feature five DFP student films in its North Carolina Shorts category. This program features the best short films received from N.C. filmmakers.

Autism in Love, Director: Michelle Friedline
Autism in Love profiles R.V. Kuser, a clever man of 50 with Autism Spectrum Disorder, who has overcome his deficient social skills and odd behaviors to embrace life. He and his wife Marlene share secrets about their bond and R.V. reveals the true meaning of unconditional love.

Wagonmasters, Directors: Sam Smartt and Chris Zaluski
The car that was once the quintessential image of the American Dream is all but dead to most people. For a handful of diehards, however, the station wagon is still the vehicle of choice. This short tells the story of the vehicle as a symbol of a changing America over the last century.

North Carolina Shorts 1

  • April 14, 10:00 a.m. Hanesbrands
  • April 19, 1:30 p.m. Hanesbrands

The Impetus to Desegregate, Director: Chris Zaluski
In the 1950s and 1960s, many universities faced court-ordered desegregation, but Wake Forest, as a private institution, was not under federal mandate. The process of desegregation was prompted primarily by student petitioning and protest. This film explores how Wake Forest became the first major private university in the South to integrate.

The Legitimate Child, Directors Michele Ferris and Kelly McKenna
This short documentary tells the unique story of the Safe Bus Company, the only African American-owned and operated bus company of its time, which was located right here in Winston-Salem. Safe Bus was the legitimate child of an illegitimate system.

The One Who Builds, Directors: Peter Carolla, Nick Gooler and Hillary Pierce
The One Who Builds is the story of the life and work of Dr. Omer Omer, once a Sudanese refugee, now an American citizen, who is giving back as the director of a refugee resettlement organization in Greensboro, North Carolina.

North Carolina Shorts 2

  • April 14, 12:30 p.m., Hanesbrands
  • April, 19 4:15 p.m., Hanesbrands

Special Preview Screening, Q & A with Director

mitch_smallA special preview screening of a film about the global food crisis will take place on Wednesday Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in Wake Forest’s Annenberg Forum. A Q&A with the film’s director, Mitch Levine, will also take place following the special screening.

Shot on location throughout Indonesia and India, this film is a feature documentary set against the backdrop of the global food crisis. Today, skyrocketing prices of rice, corn and other basic staples and a lack of dairy, protein and vitamins spark food riots and threaten to drive hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people deeper into hunger and malnutrition. This film takes us on a journey from the small town of Anand, India to the islands and villages of Indonesia, where agriculture and the welfare of the people have long been neglected.

It tells the story of the White Revolution, an effort to bring dairy cooperatives to impoverished villages around the world as a means of combating malnutrition at its source and getting milk to starving and malnourished children and their families. Weaving together expert interviews and the voices of the Indonesian and Indian people, the film employs traditional documentary techniques and utilizes Javanese performance as the narrative spine of the story. It includes traditional and contemporary Indian and Indonesian music and a special song by Patti Smith.

The screening is sponsored by the Documentary Film Program and is free and open to the public.

Zaluski Wins New Orleans Pitch Contest

MFA student Chris Zaluski recently won the New Orleans Film Festival’s Pitch Perfect Competition for his film project, Wagonmasters.  The contest involved film students from Florida State University, Loyola University, University of New Orleans and Tulane University as they presented a five-minute film pitch to a panel of film professionals. In addition to Zaluski, MFA student Jess Pic also pitched her film project, Wicked Silence.

Zaluski received $500 to be used toward the film’s production as well as MovieMagic budgeting software. His film project, Wagonmasters, is scheduled to be complete in the summer of 2012 and is being produced with co-director and MFA student Sam Smartt.

Screening of Brother Number One

brotheroneDFP Professor and Academy-Award nominated filmmaker Peter Gilbert will present his film Brother Number One on October 25 at 7 p.m. at the WFU Byrum Welcome Center. He will also talk about the film as well as his experiences as a documentary filmmaker during a Q&A and reception following the screening.

Brother Number One is a New Zealand documentary co-directed and photographed by Gilbert. The story centers on the torture and murder of Kerry Hamill by the Khmer Rouge in 1978 and follows his younger brother, world champion rower John Dewhirst, on a journey to retrace Hamill’s steps while speaking to eyewitnesses, perpetrators, and survivors of the Cambodian genocide.

Through Rob Hamill’s personal story, Brother Number One explores one of the “forgotten” genocides of the 20th century, examining how and why nearly 2 million Cambodians could be killed by a fanatical regime known as the Khmer Rouge.

The screening, which is sponsored by the Documentary Film Program with a reception provided by Reynolda Film Festival, is free and open to the public.

First Year Students Arrive, Bootcamp Begins


Brent Richardson instructs first-year students.

The start of the academic year is nearly underway and first-year Documentary Film Program students are beginning their bootcamp and orientation week.

The bootcamp is a three-day immersion into documentary film, aimed at filmmakers of all levels. The camp covers aspects of shooting, editing and ethics, and the students even produce a short observational film that screens at the end of the bootcamp.

“The great thing about the DFP is that students from all disciplines – not just video production – are a part of the program,” co-instructor and second-year student Chris Zaluski said. “The bootcamp is a way to get the students familiar with the medium. But it’s only the start.”

Zaluski is teaching the bootcamp with fellow second-year student Brent Richardson. This year’s DFP class contains 12 students with backgrounds ranging from television to newspaper to environmental science.

On the first day of the bootcamp, students learn how to use the DFP’s video cameras as well as learn about the basics of documentary cinematography. The students break in the afternoon to begin shooting their short film.

The Last Flight of Petr Ginz Captures Festival Award

moviePoster_webSizedThe Last Flight of Petr Ginz was recently honored with the Avner Shalev-Yad Vashem Chairman’s Award in the Jewish Experience competition at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. The award, presented by the Yad Vashem Visual Center, recognizes artistic achievement in Holocaust related films.

In a statement regarding its award decision, the jury commented: “The filmmakers treat the valuable materials, drawings, stories and diary of Peter, with the talent, respect and sensitivity that they deserve. They integrate into the story original animation, loyal to Petr’s visual style. The film is a monument to Petr, whose talent is an inspiration for children, adults and artists everywhere.”

The award is endowed by Leon and Michaela Constantiner.

Peter Gilbert Hired as Full-Time Faculty

gilbert3The DFP is delighted to announce that award-winning producer, director, and cinematographer Peter Gilbert is joining the program as a full-time faculty member. Gilbert began a three-year appointment as a part-time lecturer at Wake Forest last fall and it quickly became evident that he was very much at home at the DFP. The enthusiastic response of both graduate and undergraduate students to his teaching and mentoring and his generous contributions to the overall development of the program led to a full-time offer being extended and accepted.

Gilbert will join Wake as a Professor of Practice and will teach DFP courses in cinematography, entrepreneurship and documentary-to-narrative storytelling. He will also advise 2nd and 3rd year students on their creative projects.  I am honored to be a full time member of Wake Forest and the DFP, Gilbert said in reaction to the appointment.  This is an opportunity that allows me to engage in and teach storytelling at an incredible institution. I am particularly excited about the opportunity to merge entrepreneurship into curriculum of the DFP. I look forward to helping to raise the visibility of this fantastic program and to help our students continue make wonderful films.

In addition to his DFP duties, Gilbert will continue to teach undergraduate courses in Visual Storytelling and Entrepreneurship in Creative and Liberal Arts.

DFP Students Film in India, Pakistan, Zambia and Venice


Photo taken in Southern India by Kim Dryden

MFA students and Richter Summer Scholars Kim Dryden and Sana Haq will travel to India and Pakistan this summer to pursue individual film projects. Dryden and Haq were recently awarded Richter Summer Scholarships, which offer financial support to independent study projects requiring significant travel.


Dryden is currently in India filming the experiences of a group of undergraduate students led by communications professor Dr. Ananda Mitra on a month-long exploration of India. She will produce a short film that will not only highlight one of Wake’s enriching study abroad programs, but also the personal growth of the students and the importance of cultural immersion as a tool for learning about and ultimately understanding other peoples. The Museum of Anthropology will host a screening of the completed film in October of 2012.


Haq will travel to her home country of Pakistan later this summer to begin production on a film that looks at the issue of terrorism and its impact on Pakistan’s society and citizenry. Haq notes, that 35,000 civilians have died since 2001 as victims of terrorism and 3,000 soldiers have died in active combat with terrorists. While much of Western media focus on Pakistan’s inadequacy in fighting terrorists, she hopes this film will bring attention to the other side of the story. The story of Pakistan’s suffering and its people’s resolve to keep fighting.


Other DFP students traveling abroad to film projects include MFA students Sam Smartt (’13) and Chris Zaluski (’13). Smartt recently contributed a guest column to Wake Forest Magazine reflecting on his experience filming a choir trip to Zambia.


Zaluski traveled to Venice, Italy and Vienna, Austria this past July to shoot a promotional video about the Wake Forest Law School’s study abroad programs in those locations.