Stringing Along

A couple weeks ago, I finished up the last component of my project covering the Missouri String Project. Check out the audio, photo and video footage that I gathered about the program.

See the musicians in action on Sunday, May 6th at 3 p.m. in the Hickman High School auditorium.


Mobile Journalism Test

Friendly customer service and all things black and gold brighten a rainy Saturday at downtown retail store Tiger Spirit. Sales associate Alezandra Marzolf started working at the store in August and has enjoyed work experience since.

“I like bantering with my coworkers while we’re working,” Marzolf said. “It’s nice to be able to be informal with someone at work. And I like looking at babies when they come into the store.”


Marzolf makes small talk while ringing out a customer.

In addition to Mizzou apparel for men, women and children, Tiger Spirit is also the only retail store in Columbia to carry items for the university’s Greek life.

Why I love the True/False Film Festival

If you’ve been anywhere within earshot of me for the past month, you’ve probably heard me mention True/False at least a handful of times. No, I wasn’t talking about an exam, even though I think we can all agree that those are the best kinds.

The True/False Film Festival is a documentary film festival that roots itself in downtown Columbia every winter. For the past eight years, filmmakers and musicians have come from around the world to show off their work to thousands of documentary enthusiasts, converging in the Midwestern college town for one weekend of cinematic splendor. In its ninth year with no signs of slowing, the festival weekend now includes events such as the March March kickoff parade, the True Life Run and to benefit the chosen True Life Fund film of the year, panels with filmmakers, and plenty of visual and auditory pleasures for the now four-day celebration.

I saw my first T/F film during my sophomore year of high school. Thanks to a social studies teacher who brought filmmakers to the school to give presentations and special screenings, discounted passes for students, and a newfound eagerness to explore downtown with a freshly-acquired driver’s license in tow, I found myself at the Blue Note queued up for the Friday night showing of American Teen. The film itself wasn’t altogether inspiring, but as a festival-going experience, I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve volunteered in some capacity for the past two years. Senior year I had the opportunity to help out with the Filmmaker’s Fête where I dressed up in fancy clothes and served fancy hors d’oeuvres to filmmakers and higher-up pass holders. Last year I worked theater operations at The Chapel and this year I’ll be camped out at Ragtag Cinema.

I guess what I love so much about the festival is how Columbia truly comes alive during the event. After living here for 17 years, the college town routine gets old. But throw in the artistic drive of international filmmakers all wanting to show somebody’s experience or allow the audience to live their own through film and we’re on to something. People come here wanting to hear a good story, and that’s what the festival is all about. From the aesthetically pleasing Life In a Day to the politically-charged Burma VJ, there’s so much to gain in participating in the fest. Through film, music, stimulating discussion and new introductions, it’s a way to find a bigger world in the small community here. And even though it’s gotten so big in the last several years, the volunteer-run weekend still maintains an air of friendly support and camaraderie. Every year, I learn so much not only about the films that come through and the issues they raise, but also about the community that has helped sustain this event and keeps it thriving. I look forward to it every February and can’t see myself growing tired of it anytime soon.

Good storytelling has me here to stay.

Point and shoot

I’ve always been exposed to basic forms of photography. My mother, typical parent that she is, loved to document every moment of my and my brother’s childhood. Her collection of photo albums in the study of my childhood home is rivaled only by that of my uncle’s California home guest bedroom stocked with family photos and video recordings of his own. One of my earliest memories involves me visiting Vancouver and being given a disposable Kodak camera. I remember taking off my mittens – the kind with the yarn attached to the wrists to keep the pair together – so I could better wind the film and maneuver the tiny little box that would eternalize the images of the pigeons in which I had spontaneously taken interest.

And who could forget those  horrible school photos with white backdrops, block letters that read “2001,” and buckets of plastic combs? Those years in elementary school where children would line up and squirm in whatever outfit their mother chose for them was probably the first time I realized that a lot more components (and direction…”chin up and to the left a little more…”) could go into taking a good picture.

Since then, I’ve tried my hand at different cameras and angles and lighting and iPhoto effects.  I somewhat regret not taking art or photo classes in high school to explore more of this type of artistry in greater depth. For years I’ve observed in awe (and a tinge of jealousy) at my photographer friends and how comfortable they are with knowing what will look good in a frame, let alone maneuvering the equipment they capture the image with.

I’m glad to say that this “Seeing Red” assignment was quite enjoyable. The hands-on nature of the project with its minimal requirements left me with limitless chances to explore. While I had fun and,  let’s be honest, felt really cool walking around downtown with the Nikon D7000, I’ve pretty much resigned to the fact that if I ever get there, it’ll take a while to develop my eye for good photography. But in the meantime, I think I’m going to enjoy exploring the features my new discovery just as much as I enjoyed taking instant photos of Vancouver pigeons.