Ashley Thompson works on a field shoot on the BU campus.
In the summer of 2009, I watched hundreds of people march through the streets of Tehran, Iran, during what came to be known as the Green Movement. At the time, I was still in high school and had become interested in international news, especially women’s issues around the world.
When I saw women advocating for what they felt were their human rights in the country’s capital, I jumped at the opportunity to focus on the subject for a class project. I chose to create a video about the state of women’s rights in Iran and how the Green Movement had affected the role of women in Iranian society.
Despite having no training whatsoever, I managed to put together a video presentation. The response I received from my classmates was a real surprise to me―they asked questions and honestly admitted that they had not paid any attention to the subject before. I think that was when I decided to pursue journalism through film as a career.
A few months later, I decided to attend Boston University’s College of Communication, one of the best in the nation, majoring in journalism. During that stressful, frantic period of college applications, I made the time to research schools of interest. I knew in my heart that Boston University, with its history, alumni and record of social consciousness, was the best choice for me.
While at BU, with the help of tough but experienced lecturers and professors, I strengthened my skills in many aspects of journalism, from writing to multimedia reporting. However, while I appreciated all of these media, I found that I most enjoyed anything to do with video production.
I quickly involved myself with the university television network, BUTV10, during my second semester at BU. I became a member of On That Point, a news program, which dealt with issues of national and international importance to the student community.
As a shy and sometimes timid freshman, there were days when I found it challenging to complete my tasks with the aggression that I realized was needed to create a quality news show. However, I gained the skills and confidence necessary to produce programs on tough topics and was later promoted to executive producer of the show. This gave me invaluable training and experience with procuring expert guests, as well as shooting, directing and editing content.
During my final semester, I took a documentary production class at BU. I’m especially passionate about documentary filmmaking, and was part of a group of four students that created a documentary about the state of human trafficking in Boston called Beneath the Surface.
This team effort was a great experience because it provided insight into how difficult it can be to produce an informative and engaging documentary. From working with our film subjects to editing the final piece, the production of this film had its challenges and difficulties.
However, what made it all worthwhile was the reaction the film received when it screened at the end of the semester. Again and again, people told us how stirring our documentary was, how glad they were to learn about the subject and how unaware they were of its presence in Boston.
It is these moments that make me want to enter the world of video production, and documentary filmmaking in particular. Just like my video on Iranian women created in high school, this documentary was able to create a conversation about a subject that those watching may not have thought of before.
I love being able to craft a video in a way that will not only entertain audiences, but will also force them to stop and think about what they just saw and experienced. I believe strongly in the ability of video not only to catch the attention of the viewer but also to make them ask questions that they had never before considered.
I feel BU has prepared me to plan film projects effectively and produce content that engages people. I’m anxious to learn everything I can, hone my instincts and create compelling videos that tell true stories and inspire others the way that filmmaking inspires me.