How’s Doc Rockin’?

The Making Of The Willard Documentary

Dusk Johnson, Assistant Editor, Designer, Writer

The Willard Documentary has been being put together by the students of Lisa Waller’s film class for roughly 3 years now. You can tune into this class every morning during first period, where we make our own projects and are now hard at work making the rest of the Willard film together. But as a Willard student you may be wondering just where we are in the making of the documentary. As a new student of the class I took it upon myself to find out with the help of previously mentioned teacher, Lisa Waller, and senior/ veteran student of the class, Maire Odermann. Here’s what they had to say…

Q:“How far in the process of  making the documentary would you say we are at this point?”

 “We’re still in the planning process, but we’ve gotten most of the footage that we need. So if I had to give it a percentage…25%?” Maire laughs.

“The thing that’s tough is that classes are trimesters and some students were fortunately able to stay in it [for] several trimesters at the beginning, but there’s been a couple years of work that is a bulk of the work [for the doc] but it doesn’t feel like it right now because we’re still a fairly new class” Lisa added, “ But really we’re in the year where I feel like we’re going to have a rough cut by the end of the year.” Maire nods in agreement. “Before…we needed all the old things that we weren’t ever going to see again on film. I was trying to push to get lots of film and footage of it” Lisa continued, “ I feel like there’s more people in here that know “Premiere” (An editing program used in film) or are willing to learn premiere. Now we can start taking stuff we have and really start coming up with ideas of how to throw it together…so I think it will start to come together a little faster than you’re expecting”

Q:“With that in mind, when would you estimate the Willard Doc will be fully finished?”

A rough cut by the end of the year.” Lisa responded with certainty.

Maire agrees, “Yeah, definitely a rough cut by the end of the year. But fully finished…” She sounds uncertain of an answer here.

“If there were a group of people that were super motivated, we could work on it next summer, and you know, be done by the end of next year… but that’s very ambitious. But I think what I’m focused on is getting a rough cut by the end of the school year.” Says Lisa, appearing confident in her class.


Q:“What has been the biggest struggle making the documentary?”

Maire laughs in response to the question, “I feel like it’s a lack of motivation within the class… sometimes. Sometimes a lot of students really do enjoy doing the class, and really get into it. But there are just some students who just… don’t really want to do it. And so that always kind of brings a drawback with us I think, is when students aren’t really involved.”

Lisa thinks about the question for a moment, “It’s not a class where I can just assign you to this, this, and this. Because if they’re not invested or motivated it’s not going to get done, but I think for me the biggest challenge has been that it changes every trimester… Students, when they have demands on what they need to get done, certain things are probably gonna take precedence over a school film thing.’It’s my place, it’s something I care about.’” She adds, concerning the way a motivated film student would think.



Q:“Why did you choose to make the film?”

Lisa starts with her recollection of the project, “ It was Alyson Spery, she was a graduate student in the documentary program at the university, and she came to Tri and said “Hey, I want to do my thesis project on a documentary of Willard, if the students are interested.” So that’s how it actually started. I think we were also feeling the need to document the building. Knowing that we were going to be losing it, within a year or so of starting it. Laura Lovo also came in that second year after Allison had moved to Jackson Hole, WY. Allison didn’t foresee that she’d be moving, so she couldn’t finish the project, so we decided to go ahead with it.”

Q:“Do you think others would benefit from taking the film class, and why?”

Maire answers with zero hesitation, “ Oh yeah, definitely! Because film is an industry that is booming and growing bigger and bigger every second. Hollywood isn’t producing as many movies as they used to, but now the indie industry is booming even faster because a lot of people aren’t going into the Hollywood industry, they’re making their own films. In reality a lot of the professionals aren’t even doing their jobs right. So a lot of people are just getting frustrated with the Hollywood industry and making their own films. So I feel that taking this class helps prepare you if you want that career in the future, or if you want a part of that career in the future. So I would think people would very much benefit from this class.”

“… As much as someone is motivated and interested to do something, I can help find support for that.” Lisa says in regards to her students. Because we have a lot of different people in the community like MCAT who will support us. There’s a lot out there, it’s just all about connections. It’s like are they motivated to do it…even outside of school? Or like even finding a job in that field, like you [Maire] did, at MCAT. Or to volunteer. Ken (in association with The Roxy) has tons of things that people can help with. Yes, it’s a volunteer basis, but it’s how it gets you in and getting those connections. It teaches you things along the way.”

“Just like any artform, it’s a learned skill. It’s just like learning a language, it’s just like learning to draw. You just have to continue doing it until you get good enough to make a masterpiece,” explains Maire.

Lisa agrees, adding, “I Think the key would be being willing to learn and suck up knowledge from anywhere you can, and get involved in that community, and [then] you’re on your way.

Q:“What do you see for the future of the documentary? What about publishing?”

“I think if we do it well enough, if we put a lot of love into it, it will become a very good documentary.” Maire stated.

“…We have the opportunity to put it in the film festival. They’ve already told us that. That’s in the spring. So we have to have something, even if it’s a rough cut of a section that we put in.” Lisa explains. This adds a whole new opportunity for the Documentary, from here on Maire explains why.

“Even What We Do in the Shadows started as a rough cut. Then they sent it to the film festival, and that’s when they got their budget. What We Do in the Shadows is a mockumentary about vampires that live together. Their first cut was just them sitting down and doing interviews. They just sat down and screwed around. Then they became a hit because people were like ‘hey this is actually funny!’ So if we come up with a rough cut and send it in and people like it enough, we could eventually get a higher budget and better equipment. To create a better version of it. So I think that I see in the foreseeable future that people will enjoy it.”



Q:“Any final thoughts or things people should know about the documentary or class?”

             “We are always looking for help with certain things like music, art, events that are going on in the community that involve Willard. If you have any information or you want to provide anything for the documentary, we’d enjoy that immensely,” Maire says enthusiastically, “ I think this project will succeed in the end, and will be beautiful.”

“I agree. Just really having people to help, like if they read this article and they’re out in the community and they have skills with premiere, [or] any of that stuff that you [Maire] said. The history of Willard or any of that. I really appreciate the students or musicians who are willing to try to make everything creative.”

“Especially if you have ANY history of Willard yourself. Because we aren’t just talking about the students, but people in the community too,” Maire adds.

“When we boiled it down to ‘who is Willard?’ There’s so many people who have been changed by being at Willard, who’s life’s trajectory completely changed because of their experience at Willard, whether it’s teachers, students, whatever. As Willard…it’s always gonna be the people. So if there’s former teachers or students who want to say something and be part of it, contact us.” Lisa mentions, providing an email for contact (see end of article).

“It has been said  in the past that there’s stereotypes of who goes to Willard and why. I think we wanted to debunk that. We didn’t want to lose who we were.”

If you’d like to help us create the documentary, and show the world our feathers, please contact Lisa Waller at this email address:  [email protected]