A second year graduate student at American University, Kelsey Janelle Marsh is pursuing her MFA in Film & Electronic Media.
In 2009 she graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications - Radio/TV (emphasis in production) and Political Science. During her undergraduate study, Kelsey worked as a producer/director/news reporter at the campus TV and radio stations. She also gained experience interning at the CW33 News station in Dallas and worked as a production assistant on two prime-time reality TV shows.
After graduating, Kelsey accepted her invitation to serve in the Peace Corps working as both a community health and economic development volunteer and primary resource teacher in the Kingdom of Lesotho. Her experience abroad reaffirmed her desire to produce documentaries highlighting human rights and social injustice.
When not making media that matters, Kelsey enjoys reading, exercising, baking sweet treats and savory breads and traveling.
TERRA: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
KM: I got my first TV when I was in 8th grade and was obsessed with watching the news (clearly I wasn't one of the “cool” kids) – hearing national and international stories about human rights and social injustice really piqued my interest and solidified my desire to become a storyteller. It wasn't until after my Peace Corps volunteer experience did I decide to put my activism to use as a filmmaker; utilizing my privilege and voice for those whom cannot speak up.
TERRA: What was your greatest challenge producing the Solar Decathlon project?
KM: It was such a pleasure to produce an original web series documenting Team Capitol DC's two-year long solar decathlon journey. I met some talented and passionate individuals deeply invested in net-zero, sustainable homes and green living that inspired me to live more “green.” The greatest challenge by far was the 2-year long time frame and soliciting volunteers for the project. We had no compensation and were constantly hopeful of the true scope of the project's future outreach endeavors. There were times we weren't on site to get the shots we needed but conversely spent several hours filming that would never make the final webisode cut. I was fortunate to work with an awe-inspiring crew of undergraduate and graduate film students at American University under the direction of Professor Larry Engel. Our efforts were great and now we are partnering with Howard University Television to produce a long form documentary about Harvest Home and Team Capitol DC.
TERRA: What has been a rewarding moment for you in the field?
KM: To me, every moment in the field is a rewarding experience because I learn something new every time. I'm always volunteering to be a PA or grip, sound recordist or producer-for-hire because going on shoots makes me think how I would handle my own and hopefully makes me more efficient.
TERRA: What are the 3 things you'd never go into the field without and why?
KM: I could never go into the field without proper sound equipment (content makes a film award-worthy not the beauty shots), my cell phone (Google maps is a life-saver as is the notes app) and release contracts.
TERRA: What's next for you?
KM: My current project is a documentary about black missing youth. Roughly 60% of missing youth are from minority communities and yet receive no national media buzz. Everyone knows the names Natalie Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, but what about Unique Harris or Dashad Smith? To me, it's an equal rights for all races issue. Production begins later this month.