Written and posted by Corey Howell

This past summer, Ohio University played the proud host of International Space University’s 2015 Space Studies Program. The program, which provides graduate-level training to the future leaders of the emerging global space community, brought more than 110 participants and 150 faculty to OU’s campus as they engaged in a nine-week immersion into the study of humankind’s evolving experience of space.

Among the various fields leading workshops and special projects for the incredibly diverse and talented group of participants was Ohio University Film. In tandem with the University’s CREATE_space, thesis M.F.A. student Matt Herbertz led an intensive workshop in which he taught the group of aspiring astronauts, astrophysicists and PhDs how to use basic film equipment and editing software.

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In an interview with Herbertz, he explained the process to me. The event entailed a 3-hour lecture in which he was tasked with teaching the group how to operate and record video and audio (primarily with GoPros and Zooms) as well as how to use Final Cut Pro. Wow, right? During the next two weeks, he acted as a technical consultant providing any help the members of the group needed as they used what he taught them to create 3- to 5-minute films ranging from an interview-style documentary to a silent MOS film like the ones that will be made by the first-year MFA film students later this semester.

I asked Herbertz, who told me he had prepared an extensive array of handouts in advance that detailed all of the step-by-step processes that the group would need to know in their film shoots, if this was his first step into teaching. “No,” he said. “I’ve taught since the summer after my first year here [at OU]. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do and am going to be attempting to do in the near future.”

“So, I had done a year of teaching already,” he continued, “but this was a new challenge because it was people from different backgrounds and different nationalities who are already working professionals or in a PhD program somewhere. People who are older than me and just in a completely different field.”

But despite the challenge and limited amount of time, when I asked him about the quality of the films the group made he offered nothing but praise. “For people without a creative background, they understood how to go about the process of filmmaking better than some of the filmmakers I’ve met,” he laughed. “Which was interesting.”

The shorts were ultimately shown at a screening at the beloved Athena Cinema which people from all over the world attended. “It was a really fun experience,” he told me, “getting to meet so many people from all walks of life.” Originally the program expected their students to create films in the 7 to 10 minute range, having underestimated, Herbertz posited, just how difficult the art of filmmaking is. But by all accounts, the directors of the program were beyond pleased with the final result - a microcosm for the International Space University’s time here at Ohio University.

“That was the main thing, the biggest thing I got out of it,” Herbertz concluded. “Being able to teach and engage with an extremely diverse group of people that have a different mindset from me.” Whether a technical and analytical mind or a primarily creative one, the event was a beautiful blending of people from a wide array of various backgrounds and points of view coming together to create something great.