Students in the Department of Communication received a 200-plus person standing ovation during the world premiere of the student produced documentary on the opioid crisis April 26 at Sears Recital Hall.
“This is a crisis that knows no demographic,” said Dayton Daily News and WHIO reporter Will Garbe in the documentary “Epicenter: Dayton’s Opioid Crisis.”
Media production students, guided by professor Greg Kennedy and lecturer Roy Flynn, created the harrowing yet inspirational documentary for their senior capstone.
Since 2016, students in the course have created films focusing on Dayton-related topics such as the role of higher education in fostering modern entrepreneurship and food insecurity. This year the documentary focused on opioid addiction.
“While the opioid epidemic is a nationwide problem, it impacts Dayton disproportionately. Because we live in the epicenter, we believe we’re in the best position to produce a documentary of this nature,” said student producer Taylor Alexander. “With this documentary we hope to educate and enlighten people about the reality of living in the epicenter and how it affects the greater Dayton community.”
Since the course was created, students’ documentaries have been recognized with previous films, “The Modern Entrepreneur: The Divided Path to Higher Education” in 2017 and “All You Can Eat” in 2016, winning honorable mention Emmy Awards in the long form non-fiction category from the National Academy of Television Arts & Science – Ohio Valley Chapter.
“I am terribly proud of these students. They are examples of the some of the best UD has to offer,” Department of Communications chair Joe Valenzano said.
To create “Epicenter: Dayton’s Opioid Crisis,” 20 junior and senior students collaborated with three student producers. Students interviewed approximately 20 Dayton community members, from recovering addicts and their families to law enforcement, reporters and community members helping to solve the problem through community initiatives and programs.
“A lot us realized we wanted to be involved with this in more than the capacity of just a documentary,” Alexander said.
The students said they hope their documentary will not just highlight the opioid problem but promote and serve as a call to action for a solution to a nationwide epidemic.