VMA department kicks off Bright Lights series with "Visual Storytellers"

by Jason Madanjian / Beacon Staff • January 28, 2012

An 85 pound dog barks throughout the streets of Boston. A ruthless New England mob rules with an iron fist. And a local baker makes mouth-watering desserts.

Through both fiction and non-fiction, local filmmakers showed what it means to be a visual story teller last Tuesday night during the first installment of the visual and media arts department’s Bright Lights Series. The artists aim to create resonant visuals using cinematic flair, whether it be with an iPhone or Sony XD 700.

“We can effect emotion with our video and audio,” said Dan Berube event host and Emerson alumnus. “There’s a lot of power to it.”

The evening, which took place in the Bright Family Screening Room in Paramount Center, was headlined by a special presentation from CBS photojournalist Rick Macomber. Macomber introduced the audience to various news broadcast footage spanning his thirty-plus year career and short films from his production company, Macomber Productions.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” said Macomber of the showcase. “I’m usually the one behind the camera.”

One of the more fascinating pieces of the evening came in the form of a 27-minute Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recruiting video that highlighted the emotion and passion for the job following the Sept. 11 attacks. Previously, the video had only been seen internally, making the audience in the Bright Family Screening Room part of the select few to have seen it.

Emerson alumni were represented throughout the night. A trailer for The Lower Nine, a documentary focusing on one neighborhood in post-Katrina New Orleans co-directed by Emerson grad Matthew Hashiguchi, also screened.

Alumnus Nathaniel Hansen showed an excerpt from his documentary The Elders which focuses on interviews between Hansen and elderly people recounting their fascinating and poignant life stories.

Applause erupted after each film finished as the videos captured the attention of the audience. After, audience members were eager to ask the filmmakers questions of both the creative and technical nature of the pieces.

“I wanted to get the creative juices of the audience flowing,” said Macomber.

The event was the first in the Bright Lights series. Every Tuesday and Thursday a new VMA show will be held at the Bright Family Screening Room.