Field Notes: Wheaton Filmmaker in Iceland

Each summer, Wheaton College offers several Filmmaker in Residence Fellowships that fund students to travel with faculty-led international courses and produce films about the experiences and issues being studied. This past May, Film and New Media Studies major Kaylee Carson ‘25 was awarded a fellowship to travel to Iceland with Professors Geoff Collins and Matt Evans for their course Geology of Iceland. Kaylee recently spoke with Patrick Johnson, Chair of the Film and New Media department, about the experience. 

Patrick: Tell me about the project you filmed in Iceland?

Kaylee: In the Geology in Iceland course there were 12 students divided into groups of two who performed research and created different projects that studied Iceland geology. I filmed their journey of executing their projects and seeing how they turned out in the end. I was able to learn about their projects and understand the process of actually executing scientific field work.

What were some of the challenges of filmmaking in Iceland?

While the scenery in Iceland is absolutely breathtaking, in order to see some of these places, we needed to do some hiking. This was especially difficult because I had to carry camera equipment up these hikes.

For example, we did a glacier hike and I had to carry an icepick, shoe spikes, and a camera, trying to film everything without slipping. Although challenging, it was probably my favorite place to film. Another challenge was adapting with the groups to understand their changes in their projects. I had to make sure I followed their story.

What was a standout moment that you were able to capture?

There are just so many moments that were inspiring or breathtaking, however a very special one was when we connected with a Wheaton alum who was currently living in Iceland! She took classes with the professors and even did the Geology in Iceland course when she was at Wheaton. She drove out to meet with us and we were able to have dinner with her and talk about her experiences with living in Iceland. She was able to teach us a lot about her experiences and what she has done since living in Iceland.

What is the next step for the project and in your journey as a filmmaker?

The next step is to turn it into a story people can follow and get inspired from. The students did such an incredible job executing their projects, that I want to create a film for us to remember our journey and for others to see the incredible work the students and professors did while in Iceland. My next steps for my journey as a filmmaker is to take this experience and keep it with me for the rest of, not only my filmmaking career, but for the rest of my life. Everyday in Iceland I learned something new about myself including my strengths and weaknesses as a filmmaker. It is an experience that I can forever look back on and grow even further in my filmmaking career.

What is something that you would love people to know about the experience?

I would love people to know that the bonds you make with the people on the trip is one like no other. I instantly felt connected to the students and professors. They were incredible and we all had so much fun together. When traveling together for two weeks straight, you learn so much about the people you’re with and it creates bonds that you can never forget.