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Stepping Beyond Your Comfort Zone: Documentary Filmmaking

As I began creating a documentary for my capstone class at Ithaca College, I found myself overwhelmed, but excited. I know this will be a challenge, something I have never done before; however, I know the final result will be gratifying and I will have learned a lot about longform journalism along the way.

My documentary (title coming soon!) will follow Jordan Norkus, a broadcast journalist from WETM in Elmira, N.Y. Not only is she the primetime anchor, doing 4 shows per day Monday through Friday, but she also works as a bartender at two local establishments on the weekends. Also, three days a week she works at a gym on top of her anchor position at WETM. She never has a day off and is constantly on the move, showing the reality of journalism in 2021.

Time is one of the most valuable things we own because we define how it is used. We decide what and who are priorities every day. There is also a fixed amount of time, making impossible to change. Jordan is booked solid every day. Three days a week she wakes up at 4 a.m. after going to sleep well after 1 a.m. As she said, she takes several glorified naps to get through those long days.

The production process this week included my initial interview with Jordan and following her around her evening in the newsroom. It was the beginning of a semester long process. While I am working on this project alone, I think it will serve as an incredible learning opportunity to learn all phases of the production process.

As an aspiring on-air journalist, I feel it is incredibly important to understand not only different forms of journalism, but also different roles in the newsroom. This will make me a more well-rounded journalist and newsroom “teammate”.

I always love to learn about my craft and my documentary is inspired by journalism movies and documentaries like Spotlight and Page One: Inside the New York Times. These two films show the fast-paced nature of journalism and the importance of the job in society. While this is one of my goals, my primary objective is to show the reality of local journalism. It is a challenging, at times cut-throat, industry that requires stamina, strength and tenacity.

Stay tuned for more about the production process, Jordan’s story, and the premiere of the documentary!

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