Viva Farms Digital Storytelling Internship

By: Jeff Braund and Evie Caldwell

Digital Technology and Culture students Joshua Perez, Miranda Sherrell, Chase Stuart, Jeffrey Braund, Lauren Prasanna, and Lexis Cook joined professor Rebecca Goodrich for one week last May to produce three films for Viva Farms. Viva Farms, a non-profit Farm Business Incubator and Training Program run by Rob Smith, works closely with small farm startups and the Skagit County WSU Extension Office to provide research, testing, and classes on farming. Viva Farms enables farmers to build their companies and produce their crops in a limited co-op environment suited to their growing needs.

In three teams of two, the students worked with film equipment provided by the English Department’s Creativity Suite to tell the stories of their assigned farmers. The filmmakers were granted nearly unlimited creative freedom to produce their videos. They used their first day to establish connections with the farmers, asking questions like, “When did you start farming?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” to warm them up for the real interviews. Each farmer came from a unique background and shared a different dream. Linda Fenstermaker of First Cut Farm explained the path that led her from filmmaking at Hampshire College to farming in Washington. Matthew Cioni and Giana Wakim of The Crows Farm discussed their passion for protecting the environment and their desire to have an impact on the field of agriculture.

For the next few days, the students made the Extension Office their headquarters. Viva Farms was only a short drive away, and teams came and went as necessary. They shot footage on site and processed it back at the Extension Office, cutting together the most impactful shots and then going back for more until coherent videos started to come together.

The filmmakers slept in cabins overlooking the Padilla Bay throughout the week. Food was provided by the English Department, and each evening one of the teams of two made dinner for the rest of the students. The filmmakers used their time together at dinner to update each other on their projects. They ended every night with a fire and s’mores.

On the final Friday of the project, the students rushed to make their last-minute changes. It was their last chance to have a critique discussion face to face with the farmers, Viva Farms employees, and workers at the Extension Office. Over the next month, the filmmakers made final edits to their films. Jeffrey Braund composed his own music for his team’s video, and Kyle Mentele composed the music for the video by Lauren Prasanna and Lexis Cook.

Two-thousand eighteen was the 3rd year for the Viva Farms digital storytelling internship. Big thanks to Rebecca Goodrich for all her work leading the project over the years.