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On the FRONTLINE of Documentary Filmmaking

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Emily Crawford

As the newest American University (AU) FRONTLINE fellow, Emily Crawford gets hands-on experience in the documentary filmmaking world. She works with professionals on a high-profile team and has more responsibilities than most internship-level positions.

“I am very involved in every aspect of the documentary filmmaking process,” Crawford said. “I’ve learned so much about the investigative process and how teams work together to create a finished product.”

FRONTLINE’s projects are mostly classified, but Crawford said she learns the process of creating quality journalistic content from professionals and is excited to see what projects she will work on in the future.

Before becoming the FRONTLINE fellow, she received a MFA in Film and Electronic Media in May from AU School of Communication (SOC). While at AU SOC, she created a documentary for her capstone project called Game Flow.

The film highlights how games can help those who struggle with a mental illness. The 21-minute film follows three individuals with mood and anxiety disorders and shows how they use games to cope with their symptoms. Crawford is still working on outreach and crowd-funding for this project even after turning it in.

Crawford said one of the most rewarding parts of the Film and Electronic Media program was the connection she made with faculty and staff. She regularly speaks with her professors and thesis advisors, particularly Larry Kirkman, who has since retired.

Along with her capstone project, Crawford also worked with the Center for Media and Social Impact (CMSI) at AU SOC. She helped create the website, and she also wrote blogs on topics related to the center and helped with a series called “Pull Focus.”

“I was attracted to CMSI because I want to create content that has a social impact,” Crawford said. “I was able to learn a lot from the faculty that worked there and refine my skills in creating content and filmmaking.”

Crawford said she found her passion for documentary filmmaking while she was working as an administrative assistant at PBS headquarters in Crystal City.

Crawford said she fell in love with public television, documentaries and non-fiction storytelling. This job prompted her to go to graduate school at AU SOC to pursue her dream of creating documentaries and content for public television.