The Ups and Downs of Filming a Documentary during COVID-19

by Lauren Wisdom

Downer Theater in Milwaukee, WI
Downer Theater in Milwaukee, WI / source: Tom Barrett on

The tasks that we are required to complete throughout our capstone class have been set in stone long before we stepped foot on Wartburg’s campus.

Everyone who goes through the capstone journey are required to film a documentary about a topic as well as creating along with behind-the-scenes projects that go toward the making of the documentary. In a normal year, interviews are in person, face masks are unnecessary, and the final product of the documentaries are shown in front of a live audience.

However, this year’s Capstone class is the second to be affected by the coronavirus. Luckily, Dr. Penni Pier was able to make adjustments to our course this semester to keep students and others involved in making our documentary as safe as possible.

With the new changes and little bit of creativity, our team had to learn how to adapt so our documentary can be made possible.

Based off the documentaries that have been featured in years past, this year’s Capstone class will have a different look. Some of our interviews that may be used in the documentary will be over Zoom to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. If filming is done in person, then there are countless measures and hoops that we have to jump through to keep our interviewees and ourselves safe.

In addition, when our group members meet outside of class to go over the tasks we have completed or look ahead to what still needs to be done, we have to wear masks around each other.

Or sometimes, when we are feeling lazy or do not want to walk outside in the cold, we will meet virtually over Zoom, which is a nice luxury to have.

Unfortunately, news already broke that the campus-wide RICE Day (Research Internship and Creative Endeavor) has been cancelled, which is when we were supposed to show our documentary to our families and the Wartburg community in the grand Neumann Auditorium.

Looking on the brighter side, our work will be livestreamed on Knight Vision for an even larger audience to see.

Although we are still fresh in the creating process, we are expecting to run into more obstacles that we will have to overcome. Being aware of the challenges that we could encounter in the future allows us to prepare for how to look past them to create a successful film.

Lauren Wisdom is the Project Manager for Simplex Stories. Originally from Sycamore, IL, she has around four years of experience in news writing, social media management, and public relations. Feel free to reach her by emailing

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