“Made With Love” documentary premieres at Wriston

Brianna Stapleton

A student-produced documentary saw its first Lawrence screening in Wriston Auditorium Tuesday.
“Made With Love: A Story of Emergency Communities” is about the interaction between volunteers and residents of New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Raad Fadaak and Madison Tift, the creators of the documentary, focused on filming two groups of volunteers: the students from Lawrence who went to New Orleans over spring break 2006 and the more permanent volunteers who have been in Louisiana for a long time, experiencing the full effects of the disaster.
As the juniors traveled with other Lawrence volunteers to New Orleans in spring of 2006, neither Fadaak nor Tift was planning to make a documentary.
“We certainly had the intention of bringing our camera along to shoot footage, but the concept and ultimate decision to make a documentary was never explicitly stated at any point,” said Fadaak.
He described the process as more of an evolution, as they found themselves interviewing long-term volunteers with amazing stories to tell.
“It was when we had a chance to interview three firemen from the St. Bernard Parish fire department – who told their stories emotionally and without hesitation – that we knew we had to show the footage to others on a larger scale.”
Neither Fadaak nor Tift had experience with film editing, so putting the footage together into a final product was challenging. Alison Miller, a Lawrence student who organized the 2006 trip to New Orleans, connected the two filmmakers with her aunt Gretta, a professional film editor. The four of them found that they worked very well together.
“Gretta has provided us with nearly a year’s worth of professional editing and post-production work without charging us a dime for it,” Fadaak said thankfully. “The film would never have been anything close to what it resembles today without her.”
Students were able to purchase copies of “Made With Love” for $7 each at the showing on Tuesday. If you weren’t able to attend the showing, be sure to contact Fadaak or Tift and let them know that you would like to purchase a copy of their documentary.
Making “Made With Love” produced some unexpected results for Tift and Fadaak. Madison decided to submit the documentary to the Swansea Bay film Festival in Wales.
This festival only accepts 15 percent or fewer of the documentaries they receive, so it was a thrill for Tift and Fadaak to learn that their film had been selected for public screening.
Made With Love has also been nominated for the Best Documentary category at Swansea Bay. “We may attend the public screening to introduce and promote the film, but Wales is a long way to go, especially during finals week of spring term!” said Fadaak.
Though Fadaak had never shot much more than three minutes of footage before making “Made With Love,” he is now interested in making more films in the future.
“I think Madison and I have both become addicted to making documentaries after this experience,” he said. Tift is a self-designed film major and hopes to study and produce films for many years after Lawrence.
Both students said they are ready to tackle new subjects, but are thankful for the experience of making this film. “The experience has been enough to encourage us to make films like this for the rest of our lives,” said Fadaak.