Since 2016, the Students+Startups (S+S) program has been placing Tigers right in the middle of San Antonio’s exploding startup scene. Though many students completed their S+S internships remotely this year, a few students are extending their internships into the fall. Ethan Jones ’21, Natalia Salas ’21, and Rylie Snell ’21 are working for Alamo City Studios as associate producers for an upcoming feature film.
The students spent their summer and fall working under Marti Nonemaker, the director of a documentary about the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and the life of his grandson, Arun. The film follows Arun Gandhi as he travels to India, where the 150th year of his grandfather’s birth is being celebrated. Arun was the last generation to spend time with Gandhi and learn from him, and he wants to share his grandfather’s story.
As associate producers, the interns helped edit and market the film. Jones, Salas, and Snell transcribed and edited more than 85 hours of footage, mostly shot in India last year. At the same time, the interns managed the social media promotion of the film, including its Facebook page.
“It has been really cool to actually get to work on the film,” says Snell, who hails from Waco, Texas, and is double majoring in history and communication with a minor in film. “We’re not just watching professional editors or getting coffee or typical intern things–we're actually getting to work on the movie.”
The pandemic had already become fairly widespread when the internship began, so the interns had an idea of what to expect from the start. Everyone wore face masks and maintained social distancing within the office, but the team was grateful for the ability to collaborate and meet in person. Due to the nature of the project, a lot of the work was co-dependent. For example, the interns were writing the script as they went through footage, and they met with cinematographers as they worked through marketing and finished logging b-roll.
The subject of the film focuses on Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy and chronicling what his grandson remembers about him for other people to see. It also encompasses the people who go on the Gandhi legacy tour every year with Arun and his son, taking people through India and showing off organizations and places that Mahatma Gandhi had been involved with. The goal is to showcase how people are continuing his legacy and the ideas of nonviolence, especially how those things can be used and remembered today in our modern context.
“It’s been really interesting to study the message of Gandhi,” says Jones, a Fort Worth, TX native with a double major in music performance and human communication. “We’ve learned a lot about the principles that Gandhi used to make such a profound impact in India and the continued legacy of Arun and how he really believes in the message of nonviolence.”
Throughout the internship, the interns met with San Antonio superstars, including filmmakers, past mayors, business owners, and Judge Nelson Wolff. The cinematographer for the film, Alejandro Dehoyos, is an Emmy award winner, and the soundtrack composer is Wayne Sharpe, who has been nominated for two Emmy awards. In addition to meeting San Antonio influencers, the team has held Zoom calls with Arun Gandhi and his son Tushar, as well as other people from the film.
The interns worked on the rough cut of the film over the summer, after which the film will be sent to professional editors, sound engineers, and the composer. At this point, they don’t know what the final cut will really look like, but the team is thrilled to have a part in it and see where the film goes.
“My favorite part has been to actually get to edit the film and I’m getting to input my opinions and experience,” says Salas, a communication major from Houston, Texas. “Also, of course, just being exposed to the local film community at Alamo City Studios, a coworking space for people in media. There are lots of local filmmakers and production companies, so we're getting to learn a lot about the film industry in San Antonio.”