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Note on Coronavirus and an Intern Profile - Khalajia Smarr

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

Everyone I know is in the process of revising, re-evaluating, and hunkering down. We all seem to be adjusting to #flatteningthecurve in different ways.

This brings up a lot of questions for me as a filmmaker.

How do I keep this film relevant to whatever the post-coronavirus world looks like? Is that even possible? Do I scrap the entire project? Do I trim what I have finished into an awkward short, and then release it on-line? That is, can the material that's currently finished provide some kind of comfort or distraction to those in quarantine, isolation, or lockdown? As an artist, how can I help my communities? How can I help strangers? I know I'm not the only person asking those questions right now. While some folks are anticipating the worst in people, I can't help but anticipate the best. Throughout my career as an academic and artist, I've studied holocausts and human tragedies throughout history. Yes, people can be horrific to one another. But people also perform astounding acts of humanity and selflessness.

There are times I'm totally punched in the gut by the ferocious beauty of human kindness. Yes, people will do terrible things. But people do amazing things, too. I want to support that in any way I can -- I aspire to be that. As a teacher, I also have a responsibility to my students and my interns.

I've been adjusting the internship to help the students continue on the production, and they're doing a great job. But I also don't want their creative contributions to disappear. I'm concerned about completing this project, but I don't want to give up on their hard work. That is, there may come a time (very soon) when it doesn't make sense to complete the film as envisioned -- as a feature film about misinformation in the early modern period and today; a film about familiars and social bots. Whatever I end up deciding -- to give up entirely, to keep chugging along as planned, to trim it into a short, to make the rest of the interviews a series of podcasts, or some combination of these -- I want to do right by the interns who have dedicated so much time and care to this film. And I want to do right by the interview subjects who were so generous with their time, by the friends and colleagues who have supported this project and provided invaluable help and feedback.

But I haven't decided yet and, honestly, I'm open to suggestions. So, in the spirit of #keepcalmandcarryon, here's the latest intern profile: the insanely talented Khalajia Smarr.

My name is Khalahjia Smarr and I’m currently a senior at UNC Charlotte, pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Illustration. Digital illustration and character design have always been my passions and I aim to leverage these skills into the game design field once I graduate. While Digital Media isn’t my major, I also enjoy 2D animation as a way to bring awesome character designs to life! Khalahjia's work can be viewed at (Be sure to check out the great animations she did in our introductory animation course!)

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