Redwood Movement connects, intertwines roots
60 Augustana students joined together to form the "roots" of the Redwood Movement - their work premieres Sunday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. in Centennial Hall. The Redwood movement will present a documentary and a stop motion film created over the last nine months.
"We wanted to involve the community and connect," Ashley Higuchi, senior co-founder of the movement, said. The project integrates stories from Augustana students and faculty members as well as those from community members to create a cohesive narrative in a 16-minute stop motion film. The documentary shows the behind-the-scenes perspective.
The theory behind the movement comes from the root system of redwood trees. "They're between four to six feet deep, and the trees are obviously hundreds of feet tall. The roots expand so wide and wrap around each other and intertwine around each other, and that's where they get their strength, through the network of connection. So we wanted to carry that out through the project," Higuchi said.
The movement strives to connect the Augustana community with the outside QC area. "It's not only in the community that we're trying to use the metaphor, spread our roots out, I think we're also trying to learn the importance of storytelling, not only in the community but within Augustana's community," sophomore Isaac Lauritsen said. Lauritsen plays the male character in the stop frame film in addition to his various roles preparing interviews, co-directing and editing.
The project hopes to raise funds for two Quad Cities organizations; the Place2B, a nonprofit aimed at helping homeless and displaced youth, and the SBC Academy, which provides music lessons for children and adults who would not be able to afford them. "It's not just 'give us money and we'll go from there,' it's face to face. I think this is a very different way of giving back to the community," co-founder Moselle Singh said. "We're not expecting anything, but we're getting so much back," junior Hannah MacDonald agreed.
Through the ten interviews, the Movement found striking commonalities in each of the stories told. "It's that people are people. We thought, 'Oh, we're going to get 10 different people and get their stories,' and before you know it, you're hearing the same thing. It wasn't repetitive. It was amazing, just this common idea of hope in strangers and this human connection," MacDonald remarked.
After the interview process, the storytelling team created a narrative from the stories told by interviewees. The roots contributed ideas for the stop motion film based off of Higuchi's initial idea. "It's two different worlds where one person's asleep and one's awake," Singh explained. To unite these worlds, the two characters, played by MacDonald and Lauritsen, must collect mirror pieces. "Each mirror piece that's collected is one of the interviewees' stories," MacDonald said.
The sheer magnitude of the stop frame medium is astonishing. Kyle Soyer, sophomore MJMC major and photographer for the project, shot over half of the photos for the stop frame film. "I have on my computer approximately 3,000 images. That's a lot," he said. Four weekends were dedicated to shooting the film, with the crew working 15-20 hours to complete the project. Senior Veronica Smith shared the photography load as well as composed music for the film with seniors Joe Skager and Pat Nelson.
"We all are a part of this. Everyone who is on the roots crew is Redwood. It's everyone," Singh said. The members of the crew second this. "This whole thing was contrived entirely by students. It wasn't a 'do this for your senior project,' we're not getting anything from it, other than the best thing we could get: to show the community that we don't need an incentive to be involved," junior Rachel Bruce said.