For most, going to the Olympics as a spectator is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For three Georgia State graduate students — Phoebe Brown, Shanna Gildersleeve and Micah Stansell — and their faculty adviser, Niklas Vollmer, attending this summer’s games in Beijing will offer another unique experience: the world premiere of their documentary film.
The Coca-Cola Co. commissioned Vollmer and his students to film a segment on Doug Stoup, an environmentalist and expeditionist who has led teams to the North and South poles and was selected as a torchbearer for this year’s Olympics. Teams of students from Australia, China, Pakistan, Russia, Tanzania and Turkey also filmed their own segments. After seeing the work from Georgia State, Coca-Cola asked Vollmer, Brown, Gildersleeve and Stansell to edit each five-minute segment into one film.
“Hopefully at some point, we’ll at least make some kind of personal contact with the other students,” Brown says. “We’ve spent a lot more time with their work. As you keep watching, you start feeling like you get a sense of what the people who made it would be like.”
The film blends the different filmmakers’ unique storytelling styles to illustrate the need for global awareness of environmental issues ranging from water pollution to melting glaciers to wildlife conservation. Each segment follows an environmentalist who was selected as an Olympic torchbearer and highlights his or her cause.
“Hopefully, it will effect some sort of change,” Stansell says.
Vollmer says it’s been rewarding to guide his students through the process of putting together the film, calling it a bridge between Georgia State and other universities.
“These three have been great at adapting to something that all of us, when we first agreed to it, had no idea what it really would turn out to be,” he says. “I wanted a sharp crew, and they’re sharp.”
The film will premiere Aug. 13 at the Coca-Cola Shuang Experience Center, a hospitality venue on the Olympic Green.
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