Academics and Research

Profile of photography prof Roddy MacInnes among student documentaries screening Thursday

Adam Lujan, Aidan McCarthy and Victoria Romejko are the student filmmakers behind "Life Walks," a documentary about photography professor Roddy MacInnes. Photo courtesy of Roddy MacInnes

Adam Lujan, Aidan McCarthy and Victoria Romejko are the student filmmakers behind “Life Walks,” a documentary about photography professor Roddy MacInnes. Photo courtesy of Roddy MacInnes

Undergraduate and graduate students in the Documentary Film and Video Production II class in the Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies have spent the spring quarter conceiving, pitching, filming and editing short documentaries on a variety of topics. The teams present their final products Thursday, June 4, in Davis Auditorium in Sturm Hall. A reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by the screenings at 7 p.m. Admission is free. (More information)

The films cover the gamut in terms of topics, from homeless children in Denver to local blacksmiths who are keeping the craft alive. One filmmaking team turned their lenses a little closer to home, focusing their documentary on DU photography professor Roddy MacInnes.

“I first took an interterm class with [MacInnes] to Paris and London last winter break, in 2013,” says senior film major Adam Lujan. “The first time I ever met him was in Paris, and immediately I recognized that he was a really interesting person who was very unique and exciting to be around. He has a sort of infectious joy and this really big personality, and he makes you want to be a better person just by being around him.”

The student documentary is centered around an all-day class MacInnes led on Fridays during spring quarter. Dubbed “Life Walks” by the professor, the class took photography students on weekly field trips to various locations around Colorado, including Fairmount Cemetery, the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, the Denver Botanic Gardens and photography galleries in Fort Collins.

“Their assignment is just to document the day and their experiences,” says Lujan, who also is assistant entertainment editor at the Clarion. “The way Roddy describes it is he sees photography as another lens to look at your life, and that you can use photography to look at your life in a different way, a bigger way. He is interested in bringing people together in the shared idea that photography binds everyone together. We have a lot of shared experiences, and we can use the same tool to share the experiences.”

In addition to MacInnes, the filmmakers interviewed current and former students to create their film. They cut 40 hours of footage to a 15-minute final product, sharing their progress with their classmates along the way.

“I think one of the most interesting things about film classes in general is that students have a lot of creative control over their work, and the feedback that they get from their professors is equal to that of their fellow students,” Lujan says. “It’s not like the professor is the only authority and the only person whose opinion matters about your creative work.”

After graduating on June 6, Lujan plans to spend some time writing and traveling before applying to graduate school to further study filmmaking. His longtime interest in movies has focused primarily on fiction films, but the documentary class, he says, has opened his eyes to the power of real stories.

“The biggest reward has been introducing people to Roddy who never knew him and seeing how quickly people can get invested in him and his life,” Lujan says. “A lot of people in my class have never met him, they’ve never taken a class with him, but just by watching our documentary, they feel like they know him. They feel like they have access to this really great person. That’s our biggest goal.”



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