Hennelly applies Advanced TV documentary skills, creates own film

Photo Illustration by Dennis Petlakh

Photo Illustration by Dennis Petlakh

Sophie Stark & Susie You, staff reporters

The lights flicker dimly as a single spotlight shines on the subject’s face. A boom microphone dangles in the air, and the low murmur of adjusting lenses fills the silence. The camera turns on, and South’s Advanced TV and Production students begin filming.

Julie Benca, Advanced TV teacher, assigned a project where each student creates a documentary on the topic of their choice. Teaching her students what she learned during her years at South, she assigns her students the material she has done before; this exact documentary assignment originated her senior year.

According to Benca, the idea of this project was inspired by her own experiences in high school and while studying Film and TV production at DePaul University, including classes on documentary filmmaking.

Senior Quinn Hennelly became interested in the Advanced TV and Production elective after attending the elective parade freshman year. According to Hennelly, the elective overall seemed interesting, and his passion for cameras also inspired him to take the elective all four years of high school.

“[When] I went to the elective parade freshman year, I got a tour of the studio,” Hennelly said. “I was really interested in the program, and I thought it was really cool. So freshman year, I took broadcasting, and I got really involved in the program.”

For the documentary assignment, Hennelly covered Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) teens in Glenview. Along with other students, Hennelly faced difficulties that may have impacted the quality of their documentaries. According to Benca, trying to make time for the documentaries was burdensome, especially during homecoming week. An issue for Hennelly was making sure that all shooting times and interviews were scheduled.

“A couple difficulties mostly for documentaries is just scheduling,” Hennelly said. ”A lot of the times the person you want to interview isn’t available at the times you are.”

According to Hennelly, this is not the first documentary assignment he has ever worked on. Last year, he worked on a documentary about his family and life being a quadruplet. He claims that there weren’t many exciting memories about that documentary though.

“I’d say that the stories would come from the people who actually didn’t know anything about my family.” Hennelly said.

Hennelly greatly enjoys making something for people to watch and enjoy. According to Hennelly, one thing that stuck in his mind was when he showed his family the documentary, and his grandfather started to cry.

“He actually started to cry and that […] really stuck with me because I didn’t think that my work could actually have an emotional affect on somebody,” Hennelly said.

Hennelly and his partner for the film, junior Clayton Horwitz, have already started filming their documentary. They are shooting in various locations such as at South and in a nearby park. According to Hennelly, where they shoot all depends on the story they are covering at that time.

“For most documentaries, it really depends on the story and [what it is about] because ours is more based on a high school perspective [so] most of our locations are in the high school,” Hennelly said.

According to Hennelly, filming and shooting can sometimes be hard work. Yet even when he has to work for long hours into the night, Hennelly still enjoys his documentary experiences.

“For one of my narratives, […] our first shoot probably went from 3:30 to 11:00,” Hennelly said. “It was so much fun working with the crew and all the actors.”

One of the things Benca enjoys the most about the documentary assignment is seeing all the bits and pieces of a story come together. From time to time, she will see the difficulty the students face and overcome, the hard work and effort they put in and the determination to finish the documentary and produce it to perfection.

“You don’t really know your story until you get down to business and interview people, and you start shooting,” Benca said. “You can’t tell how it’s going to come out until ultimately in the end it all comes together.”