The Historical Documentary Production class is producing a set of six documentaries about WWII to be given to museums scattered around central England.
Â Dr. Vernon Williams, professor of history and director of public history, teaches the class of six students. Williams will travel to England to present the documentaries during a program at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, on Dec. 11.
Â Williams said the purpose of creating and delivering the documentaries is to preserve the history of the area and give residents a glimpse into what life was like at the time. In the past, the documentaries have gone to museums and been used in educational programs.
Â The documentaries will not be finished until the end of the semester, but Williams said he is pleased with what he has seen so far.
Â “They’ve got enough of it done that I can see that this is going to be a very bright class, and the films that I take are going to be very well received,” Williams said.
Â The class is offered only every other fall semester, and it is open to juniors and seniors of any major.
Â “It really doesn’t matter what your major is in terms of using this tool for your career,” Williams said. “A video-production capability will allow you to make all types of videos and promotional materials, no matter what you are doing.”
Â Williams said students from different majors each bring something unique to the table and work together to enhance the quality of each other’s films.
Â Jamalin Harp, senior English and history double major from San Antonio, said having people studying in other fields in her class improved her documentary about Clark Gable.
Â “It is a good way for majors to interact with one another, and I think that’s always good to get different angles,” Harp said.
Â Williams said he has spent the past 10 years traveling through England collecting photos and interviews for use in the documentaries.
Â Sandra Amstutz, junior electronic media major from La Féria, said the students in the class use the material Williams collected but are still responsible for researching their topic, writing the script, editing the whole thing and putting it all together.
Williams said the students are also responsible for learning how to create a press kit and writing press releases to promote the documentary. Williams said the class is treated almost like a film production company to give students experience in more than just creating one film. Students come to class with parts of their documentary and let other students watch and make extensive critiques.
Amstutz’s documentary is about the Women’s Land Army in Britain during WWII. She said the documentaries are an important and engaging way to learn history.
“I think they are so much more interesting and so much more personal than just reading textbooks or listening to lectures,” Amstutz said. “I think it makes those pieces of history just a little more real in your mind.”