Dreaming of Freedom: Medialab short-film competition winner captures the current mood

@Shakee Messina

The Medialab is a laboratory for audiovisual creation, with hubs on both the Segovia and Madrid campuses. This resource provides IE School of Human Sciences and Technology students with the facilities, material, and support to develop their audiovisual production talent.

Students have access to technical resources to carry out their projects in video, digital photography, and multimedia narrative creation. They also have individual support from onsite staff, consisting of professionals from the audiovisual field.

Filming in Quarantine is an initiative that the HST Medialab launched during the lockdown period, which was brought in to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Even with the challenges of reduced mobility and social interaction, we wanted to encourage the Bachelor in Communications and Digital Media community and discover how they are coping with this situation. In this way, they can share their experience with their classmates while continuing to apply the skills they acquired during the program.

We asked Bachelor in Communications and Digital Media students from all years to make a one-minute short. The topic and genre were entirely open: they could make a comedy, a documentary, a science fiction story—whatever occurred to them. The purpose of the contest was to test their imagination and creativity with the resources they had available.

Each of the submissions demonstrated the talent, dedication, and creativity that is a hallmark of all IE University HST students. But one short film stood out in particular for its engaging take on a topical issue, and was awarded first place in the competition. It was created by Penelope Pirano, a second year Bachelor in Communications and Digital Media student. Penelope is 20 years old and was born and raised in Munich, Germany, with dual British and Italian citizenship.

Penelope

We spoke with her to discuss the process behind her winning entry, entitled “Dreaming of Freedom.”

What inspired you to participate in the contest?

The uncertain and difficult circumstances that we are currently living through due to Covid-19 really gave me the motivational push to take part in the contest. I realized that in our fast-paced, non-stop society, there’s hardly ever a time in our lives where we are all physically confined to our homes or nearby surroundings. I wanted to make the best out of this opportunity to produce content that spreads an important message in an enjoyable format, while reminding the audience about all the simple things we once took for granted. 

Additionally, I believe that initiatives such as this in the Bachelor in Communications and Digital Media degree motivate students to take part in extracurricular activities to improve their skills and have fun.

What was the theme of your short video and why? Which materials did you use?

The theme of my short film is “Dreaming of Freedom.” In the film, we dream and imagine being able to do everyday activities like riding your bike. I think it is important that during these unusual circumstances we take time to reflect, dream, and express gratitude for all the amazing opportunities, activities, and events we used to take part in. At the same time, I think we must embrace what we have directly or virtually around us to make the most out of this situation.

Regarding the equipment, I filmed the majority of the short with a DJI Osmo pocket, a small hand-held stabilized camera. However, I did also use my phone and a selfie stick for some of the point-of-view shots in the forest.

film editing

What are some challenges that you faced while filming the short video? How did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge was working on my own, and embracing all the roles—director, cinematographer, and editor—that make up a normal video production team. For me, this project reiterated the importance of working with a reliable and talented team, and how essential it is in video production.

This was definitely a factor I greatly missed and I look forward to working face-to-face with my classmates soon. Nevertheless, playing all the parts definitely helped me understand where my strengths and weaknesses lie. Luckily, the role of the actor was automatically taken care of thanks to my sister’s support for this project.

However, with limited resources, tasks can become dangerous, such as filming, while holding a phone and a selfie stick, as you ride down a hill in the forest. This led to an accident and a badly injured knee, which delayed production and my sister’s ability to ride a bike. Meanwhile, the deadline for the short film submission was fast approaching. With a mixture of persuasion, good acting, and cutting intense bike-riding shots, we managed to push through.

For a little behind the scenes, here’s a movie mistake (I hope) you didn’t notice. If you look at the actor’s right knee in the last shot, you will see the results of perseverance, and a missing make-up artist or stunt woman.

I hope you enjoy the film.