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Paul Wagner "Maker of Memories"

Semester at Sea represents a unique opportunity for me as a documentary filmmaker and teacher. Great documentaries are made by filmmakers with passion for the stories they tell. And no young filmmakers are more passionate than the students of Semester at Sea.

The summer 2012 voyage provides a remarkable context for a course in documentary film. We have class daily and informal teacher/student interactions throughout the day. Documentary filmmaking is more than an academic subject; it is a way of looking at the world. Our floating “academical village” provides the perfect setting.

Of course, our Mediterranean voyage also offers a wealth of true-life stories that are the basis for my students’ films—stories of vibrant cities, inspiring art and architecture, and fascinating peoples of ancient cultures. This semester I’m also asking my class to document their own lives as students on our voyage of discovery. I remind them that Robert Flaherty, the creator of the first documentary film, was both an explorer and a filmmaker. And I encourage them to embrace both roles.

Paul Wagner

Paul Wagner is a professor on the Semester at Sea Summer voyage 2012. He is as comfortable behind the lens of a video camera as he is teaching in front of a classroom full of documentary film students. This passion for this craft is apparent with this hands on approach to filmmaking that is absorbed by these students. Paul has an Academy Award for Best Short Documentary, The Stone Makers, to this credit.
Paul discuses different types of documentary film making projects along with technique and aesthetics. He has earned a BA in English and linguistics and a MA in communications research design from the University of Kentucky. Paul is known for his successful collaborations with scholars, educators, artist, activists and Semester at Sea.
While at sea, students have film projects and assignments to shoot and edit for class. Being on the Atlantic Ocean presents some interesting challenges to the students. The sound of the ships engines and ocean are a constant noise factor the students will have to harness to make clear audio for their projects.
Paul shows students examples of different shooting styles and techniques. The students will create their own short documentary while sailing in the Mediterranean Sea.
Paul demonstrates camera and lens operations that are used in documentary filmmaking. Different aspects and shooting styles are discussed as students ask questions about aperture and depth of field.
  • Education

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