Watch the Full Documentary
How Did We Get Here? is a short-film that explores the significant events that took place in Nashville, TN during the chaotic year of 2020. Starting with the devastating tornadoes that came through the city in March, to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the bombing of 2nd Street on Christmas morning.
This documentary features interviews with a diverse cast of some essential voices from Nashville’s community, including Dr. William Schaffner, Dr. James Hildreth, Mayor John Cooper, Councilwoman Zulfat Suara and more. Ultimately, this film highlights the resilience of a strong community and the people who make it special.
About Our Team
Headed by Belmont professor of journalism and media, Jen Duck, our team is comprised of nine Belmont students. Our areas of study include but are not limited to motion pictures, audio production, and journalism.
Initially inspired by the final presidential debate (hosted at Belmont University) from the 2020 election, our group of students hoped to capture the stories and events of those impacted by the year 2020. The city of Nashville was used as a case study for our film, and we had a whopping 13 weeks to plan, produce, film, edit, and complete the documentary. This group worked tirelessly and assumed various roles for the film.
Along with the nine students that worked on creating the film, another class of nine honors students worked under Dr. Mary Ellen Pethel, Nashville historian, author, and Belmont professor. Their roles as researchers included doing hours of tireless background research on various events, modern people, and scientific statistics. This team was essential to the success of the film.
Meet the Crew
Cinematographer and Director
As the cinematographer and director for the film, Alex Moock brought the interviews of the film to life with her expert eye for framing. She also played a major role in the editing of the documentary which helped drive the pacing. Alex graduated from Belmont in May of 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Motion Pictures. She is originally from Dallas, Texas.
Director and Producer
Abigail Bowen was the director and producer for the documentary, How Did We Get Here? Nashville Surviving 2020. Throughout the production of the film Abigail played a vital part in both booking and conducting the interviews with major Nashvillians such as John Carney, Dr. Bob Fisher, Dr. James Hildreth and Nashville Mayor John Cooper. In post-production, Abigail oversaw the editing of the film with a specific focus on the Presidential Debate section. She will be graduating from Belmont in May of 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Multimedia Production. Abigail is originally from Orlando, Florida.
Marissa Avnaim graduated from Belmont University in 2021 and studied journalism and political science. She worked as a script writer and was responsible for researching and finding additional news footage featured in the film. She also coordinated interview questions and conducted interviews with Infectious Disease Expert Dr. William Schaffner and Belmont political science professor Dr. Vaughn May. Following graduation, Marissa moved to New York City and began working as a News Associate at NBC News.
Script Writer and Editor
Jordan Shatto is a senior video production and journalism student at Belmont University. She served as one of two script writers for /What Would You Do/, and took a primary editing role for the film’s Black Lives Matter section. Additionally, she coordinated and conducted interviews with guests such as Councilwoman Zulfat Suara. Outside of this film, Jordan serves as executive producer of Belmont’s Vision News Network and works as a production assistant on various television projects.
Emily Smith loved working on this film with her whole heart and is forever grateful to her fellow crew for the memories. As a senior studying audio and video production at Belmont University, she took a role in post-production supervision for the film, produced & edited (with a focus on the COVID-19 section), planned & conducted interviews, and created the film’s poster as well as this website! Outside of the documentary, Emily works as a freelance graphic artist and a production assistant for various clients. Emily is originally from Chicago.
Assistant Producer and Editor
I am a current Belmont University, senior Motions Pictures student. I helped produce, edit, and organize the production design on How Did We Get Here? Through this experience I learned so much about the city of Nashville and our community. I really enjoyed the time I spent creating this documentary with such a talented crew and interviewees!
Zach Powers handled all of the location recording and most of the post-production mixing on this film. As far as audio goes, most of what you’re hearing went through him! He also enjoyed assisting in video production and editing for this documentary and having the opportunity to work alongside everyone else on such an amazing project. Having recently graduated from Belmont University with a major in audio engineering technology and a minor in video production, he has since gone on to form Zach Powers Productions LLC, freelancing for both audio and video production in various environments.
Camera Operator and B-roll Curator
Austin Petty, born in Indianapolis Indiana, has worked with cameras since a young age. His interest in learning more about documentary filmmaking is what lead him to this project. As a camera operator and B-roll curator, Austin worked closely with the team to ensure a consistent style for the documentary. Austin graduated from Belmont University in Spring of 2021 with a major in motion pictures.
John Peters graduated from Belmont in the Spring of 2021 with a degree in motion pictures.
Meet the Researchers
Meet the Faculty
Jennifer Duck is a two-time Emmy award winner and instructor in the Department of Cinema, Television, and Media at Belmont University. Prior to her work with Belmont, Jen was a producer for Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), ABC News, and was a reporter at the NBC News affiliate in Bakersfield, California. As faculty advisor, Jen guided students through the editorial and production processes of the student documentary.
Dr. Mary Ellen Pethel
Mary Ellen Pethel is an author, archivist, digital humanist, and assistant professor in the Interdisciplinary Studies and Global Education division at Belmont University. She is the author of four books. Her current writing project, Title IX at 50: Tennessee Trailblazers, will be published in 2022. Pethel is also the executive director of Nashville Sites–a digital platform offering walking tours highlighting Nashville’s history and culture. As faculty advisor, Mary Ellen helped guide the research and pre-production processes of the student documentary.