Carbon Trace Productions in 2021

Carbon Trace Productions in 2021

It is so gratifying and humbling to see all these faces because I know each one has an incredible story that we helped tell.

This is our highlight reel with all of the new faces and new stories we have told, despite the many hurdles we faced.  Not only did we learn a thing or two, but we brought student filmmakers along with us. When times get tough at Carbon Trace Productions, I try to refer back to our mission.

Carbon Trace Productions promotes a deeper understanding of people and humanitarian issues while educating students in the art of documentary filmmaking.

For the full stories, click here, head on over to our youtube page, and hit subscribe.
I promise you will feel like you are walking in someone else’s shoes, if only for a moment.


“16 Weeks” Launches Indiegogo Campaign

“16 Weeks” Launches Indiegogo Campaign

16 Weeks showcases the lives of Missouri State University students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Student films like “16 Weeks” rely on a large number of small donations to reach our goals. The production team is humbled and grateful for donations of any size.

Sponsors’ funding will go toward:

Entering “16 Weeks” into film festivals


Renting a space for the film’s premiere

Travel to festivals and contests

Fulfilling donor perks

Physical and digital advertising and promotion

Learn More HERE

16 Weeks, a social media documentary, is the first collaboration project between Carbon Trace Productions, a Springfield non-profit film studio, and The Standard, Missouri State’s independent, student-led newspaper.

Relying on volunteer-generated content in the form of vlog-style videos captured on smartphones, 16 Weeks offers a unique perspective on the new reality of social distancing, masking, and virtual learning from the perspective of about eight Missouri State students and one professor. Formal interviews with content creators and university administration supplement the vlog content, alongside The Standard’s news coverage related to COVID-19, the 2020 Presidential Election, and other events.

16 Weeks teaches what it means for college students to be involved in a global pandemic. There is a lot to learn about the human condition, and the film provides insight into the thoughts and emotions of the Missouri State community through introspective, reflective, and earnest videos from our content creators.

By the end of the documentary, students either celebrate that they’ve endured the 16-week semester, or they lament the sacrifices they had to make to further their education.
16 Weeks is currently in post-production and is estimated to be completed in spring 2021.

For updates about the production, follow 16 Weeks @16WeeksDoc on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Interludes Help You Guide the Audience

Interludes Help You Guide the Audience

Creating an interlude in a documentary film is, for me, about creating space.

I usually want to create a space for a transition between acts or themes, for example. You may be asking: But isn’t the transition itself this “space” of which you speak? Well, no. I’m using the concept of “space” to indicate a place where a particular thematic goal that I wish to achieve occurs in a documentary film.

An interlude helps me bring the audience out of one way of thinking and feeling into another way of thinking and feeling by way of a route I create – a space I create – in the film.

There are, obviously, many other reasons to use interludes.

For example, interludes can also be used to tell a powerful visual story as an extended sequence. In other words, give your audience a break from words – especially when you have strong visuals that get the job done. I’ve used interludes for this reason, too.

While an interlude can be a transition, not all transitions are interludes because “interlude” denotes an intervening period of time. Transitions are typically fleeting. When they move beyond fleeting, we have entered the space of interlude.

How long should an interlude last? The answer depends entirely on the story you’re telling and the journey you wish your audience to make.

I prefer musical interludes with cues written or chosen, specifically for the audience’s journey to make across space in the frame. Now is not the time for talking.


You’ll see two interludes in the example video. The first is from the latest film by Carbon Trace Productions called A Vietnam Peace Story. It is the transition between acts 2 and 3.  In act 2, the former Marines traveling to Vietnam visit tourist sites and interact with the Vietnamese people. But act 3 is about visiting the site of a desperate battle that affects them deeply, even traumatically, to this day. I want the audience to finish processing what they have seen in act 2: Vietnam is a place and a people and no longer a war.

The concluding shot of the transition – the time-lapse of Hanoi at night – contrasts with and leads into the close-up of checking the map at the amphibious landing site where the men first entered Vietnam. I like that movement from the concluding, establishing shot to the detail. I like the finality of the concluding shot and how it works naturally with a fade to black.

The second interlude is a work in progress for an experimental documentary short about riding Trans-Siberian Railroad.

I’m using this interlude for the second reason I stated above: to create a short visual story. The interlude is illustrating some of the things the subjects are talking about preceding and following the interlude. I’m using the interlude instead of b-roll over the short interview sections in part because – on the bumpy train with the ever-changing natural light and constant train ambient – the interviews are visually interesting in themselves. I chose classical music by a Russian composer and slowed all the footage to create a dream-like, memory-like feel. The concluding shot of the guy moving back into his cabin will take us back into a cabin to speak with the subjects.

The first interlude has been precisely timed because the music was written specifically for the interlude. Since there’s no budget for original music for a short, experimental film, I chose music from our stock service, and I am editing to fit the music. As you can see (hear), I have more work to do.



Support Nonprofit Documentary Filmmaking:

Carbon Trace can provide significant guidance in developing, funding, producing, and distributing a documentary film. For high school students wishing to learn more about documentary filmmaking, Missouri State University offers degrees in digital filmmaking, media production, journalism, and other associated areas.

To participate in the documentary education provided through the Carbon Trace Team, we encourage you to apply for a filmmaking internship, submit a documentary idea, or apply to become a volunteer using the forms below.

Join Carbon Trace as a student volunteer

Apply for an internship

Submit a documentary idea