Following one of the most divisive presidential campaigns in recent history, tensions between America’s two biggest political parties are running high. Three unlikely Cal Poly student filmmakers have made it their goal to help bridge that divide by sharing stories from both sides.
Civil engineering senior Daniel Hornett, industrial engineering senior Michallynn Hoffman, and sociology and religious studies senior Nesrine Majzoub recently launched a new film production startup called Yellow Glass Media. Their first finished project is a short documentary called “Voices of the Votes,” for which the group attended the presidential inauguration to showcase both sides of the political divide.
“As citizens of the United States in this wild political climate, we wanted to know the stories behind people’s votes, learn what people prioritized in their vote, and what it would take for unification to happen in our nation,” said Hoffman.
At two very different events — the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump and the subsequent Women’s March on Washington — the team filmed interviews with people from all areas of the ideological spectrum and attempted to capture the importance of both events.
This was easier said than done, however; none of the three have formal training in filmmaking, and only Majzoub had done any work in the medium. In addition to the technical aspects of filmmaking, the team members also had to learn how to put their own political opinions aside and learn from those that they filmed. “We noticed that while folks on both sides have many monumental differences, there is a common theme of wanting the best for their futures and their children’s futures,” said Majzoub. “I think while those big differences are extremely important, it is valuable to remember, even while disagreeing with each other, that the other side is human too.”
While “Voices of the Votes” is their first released documentary, the group is also in the postproduction stage of a feature-length film they began shooting last year. “Sa La” tells the story of Moody, a Thai man that Hoffman and Hornett met through Engineers Without Borders, who changed the way the students view the act of serving others.
“Voices of the Votes” is now available for viewing online at yellowglassmedia.com, and “Sa La” debuted at a community screening in June.