WASHINGTON, DC, 30 May 2011 — Backpack journalist Carmen Gentile recounted in this video for USA TODAY how he was shot in the face with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) while on assignment in Afghanistan. Gentile, apparently not a close blood relative, has recently returned to Afghanistan to report for USA TODAY. The video of Gentile recounting his ordeal was produced in part by Bill Delano, a graduate of American University’s School of Communication and a former student of mine. A frequent assistant to my Backpack Journalism Workshops, Delano is currently on a fellowship at the newspaper. You can see the video here.
PAWLEY’S ISLAND, SC, 25 May 2011 — In response to a question from one of the participants of the “Backpack Documentary Expedition: Nicaragua” about backpacks, I always carry my camera gear (except tripod) with me when I board a plane. That way I know that when I arrive at whatever destination, I can walk off the plane and go to work. I never trust bag handlers to get my gear intact and on time to my destination.
And because of limitations on the size of carry-ons, I can get away with a small backpack and a handbag. I carry my laptop in a small backpack that I picked up at REI. Sound gear and other stuff goes in the backpack, as well. And I carry the camera either in a small handbag or just hanging off my shoulder. Again, I can walk off the plane and go to work.
Because our hotel in Nicaragua is so close to our work location, participants would be fine hand-carrying cameras with them to the field. Or they can acquire a decent backpack. I recommend the models which have moveable internal panels that you can adapt for any camera. These are quite good for field use, and will protect your gear from dust, rain and some hard bumps. These may be too big, however, to carry on a plane. So you might have to fill them with clothes and other items, check them in when you board the plane, then load them with the field gear upon arrival.
(Photo by Bill Gentile, 1988)
HAVANA, Cuba, 20 May 2011 — The “Casa de las Americas” is scheduled to host a group of AU Abroad students during fall semester. Pictured above in downtown Havana, Casa is a premier cultural center not only of Cuba but of the entire Western Hemisphere.
Six American University students will take five courses there, four of them taught by Cuban professors and one that I will teach. The semester runs from late August through mid December.
(Photo by Bill Gentile.)
ARLINGTON, VA, 13 May 2011 — I gave a presentation on backpack video journalism at the inaugural Shoot Off Video Workshop at the Navy League Building in Arlington, Va. The 2011 DC Shoot Off Video Workshop is a National Association of Naval Photography annual three-day videography, broadcasting and multimedia workshop designed for military and civil service photographers.
At the event, I showed parts of my “Afghanistan: The Forgotten War.”
Photo by JOHNNY BIVERA
WASHINGTON, DC, 12 May 2011 — My Backpack Documentary class this past spring semester at American University (AU) produced some exceptional films that are worth sharing with a broader audience.
Undergraduate student Sareen Hairabedian followed two young “guerrilla” street artists to shoot, produce and edit the film, “Let’s Get Out of Here.” The piece won the Audience Award at AU’s School of Communication annual Visions Festival.
It’s a great example of the immediate, intimate work made possible using the methodology that we refer to as “backpack video journalism,” or “backpack documentary.” And it’s just a sample of some of the work being generated by our Backpack Journalism Project at American University. You can watch Sareen’s film here. And you can learn more about Sareen here.
We’ll be posting more of my students’ work on this page, so stay tuned.