Producing a Documentary Course Releases ‘Hawaii: Living on the Edge in Paradise?’


019 PaceDocs class at the Schimmel Center in NYC after their second viewing.

Christina Bubba, Editor-in-Chief

For the past 16 years, Pace’s Media Communications and Visual Arts (MCVA) Department offered the Producing a Documentary course, open to all MCVA students to apply to. Through a selective process, 15-20 students are selected to participate in this faculty-led study abroad course and travel to an ever-changing location as a group.

The class is broken down into three stages, pre-production, production, and post production. Production takes place over spring break in whatever location is selected by Professor Dr. Maria Luskay.

This year, the class traveled to Hilo, Hawaii to produce a documentary on the island’s residents and how they are coping with the aftereffects of the 2018 volcanic eruptions.

“It’s one thing to read about Kilauea and its effect on people,” junior Imani Williams said. “But to be there with them and help tell their story is such a unique and rewarding experience.”

This years’ documentary team had an assortment of members with different skill levels and background experience. For several students, this was their second time in the course, so they took on more of a leadership role on the project.

“It’s a good feeling to be trusted in such a high respect,” said junior Dev Stafford. “When I was a part of Puerto Rico: Hope in the Dark, I began as just another editor. It meant a lot when I saw that I had been given the title of Assistant Editor.”

Professor Louis Guarneri assisted Dr. Maria Luskay in the teaching of the class this year. Not only is he a Pace alum, but he took the Producing a Documentary course twice as a student.

“It’s been a very full circle experience. I’m so fortunate to be apart of such an amazing team of people. It was an unforgettable trip,” Guarneri said. “I think we created a film we’re all proud of, we forged friendships, and all grew as filmmakers.”

The documentary, Hawaii: Living on the Edge in Paradise? premiered on May 7 at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. There was a second viewing on May 8 at the Schimmel Center on the New York City campus.

“The documentary class here at pace is incredible, I would have never been able to experience a culture so close to home yet so different from my own,” graduate assistant Joseph Gonzalez said. “The Hawaii documentary and Puerto Rico documentary both provide real world experience about documentary filmmaking.”

**Disclosure: the author of this article was a part of the 2019 Producing a Documentary class**