“Hello, Ukraine, this is Emerson College. We are actors and directors, and we have a message for you.”
That message, one of solidarity, comes in the form of two videos recorded in VM373 Directing Actors for the Screen course Monday, April 11. The videos will be shared with students from the Ukrainian Film School (UFS) in Kyiv, who have had to scatter across Eastern Europe over the past two months as Russian forces invaded the country.
Watch: Morning Section’s Video
Watch: Afternoon Section’s Video
The videos are simple in concept and production: In each (one from the class’s morning session, one from the afternoon), a group of students and faculty stand facing the camera, as a handful of individuals each pass along words of encouragement to their counterparts thousands of miles away.
“We want to say, as fellow artists and actors and film students, that we are here for you and we’re thinking about you in these times,” a student in one video says.
“You’re all in our thoughts. We hope you can get back to doing what you love as soon as you can. Your bravery and resilience is inspiring the world and inspiring history,” says another.
Both videos end with a chorus of “Boston Strong, Ukraine Strong!” – a nod to the slogan coined by Emerson students in 2013 in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Senior Distinguished Director-in-Residence Regge Life, who teaches the course, said he was on a call recently with members of CILECT, an association of film and television schools from around the world.
CILECT President Bruce Sheridan had reached out to someone from UFS to ask if there was anything the organization could do to help.
“All he asked for is, ‘Look, just gather your students and just give them a message of solidarity and support, so that’s what we did,” Life said.
“In this time when a lot of us are feeling powerless, it’s good to do something to lift somebody up,” he added.
Brandon DiFede ’23 said he was excited to work on the project, particularly because of Life’s desire to use storytelling to reach out to others.
“Inspiring and helping others create alongside us for the betterment of the world is something that is rooted in my desire for what I want to do with filmmaking, and Regge’s enthusiasm and excitement about sending this message to filmmakers in Ukraine represented exactly that,” he said.