School of Film student, Sam Brandes experiences how the arts impact health

Published: September 1, 2022 Author: Emma Skidmore, BSJ ‘23

Sam Brandes, a third-year film student in Ohio University College of Fine Arts’ School of Film, experienced first-hand how his knowledge of filmmaking could help others express themselves and gain confidence in making art.

Through an experiential learning opportunity, Brandes worked with Lindsey Martin, assistant professor of film production, who recently debut her award-winning animated film Pottero, and participated in a three-day program with the Appalachian Recovery Project (ARP). ARP is a program administered by the College of Fine Arts’ Ohio Valley Center for Collaborative Arts that promotes music therapy, film, photography and movement practices to foster addiction recovery among women. 

All OHIO students can participate in experiential learning opportunities through formally organized experiences and explore unique one-of-a-kind professional experiences by connecting directly with faculty mentors engaged in creative research. In the College of Fine Arts, students are encouraged to connect with alumni, faculty, community organizations and employers to learn outside of the classroom.

Brandes sat down with the College of Fine Arts to talk animation, working with a mentor and the process of recovery through art. 

This interview has been edited for clarity. 

Emma Skidmore: Can you tell me a little bit about what sparked your interest in the Appalachian Recovery Project and why you wanted to be involved with it

Sam Brandes: Lindsay and I have similar interests in animation, but I’ve never done it before. She just finished a pretty big film of her own in animation that got a lot of awards. She seemed like someone that I could learn from and then she told me the software that we’d be using would be pretty easy to use and teach. So, she gave me the iPad over the summer and I practiced for a little bit, but I kind of just learned alongside the students in the class. 

Skidmore: What did your days look like while you were teaching and learning during the program?

Brandes: Everyone would come in and we would ask, ‘How’s everybody’s day going?’ Some days it was good, some days it wasn’t going good. So, they had different things to say through their animation every day. Lindsey would sometimes show the previous day’s work. The first day, she showed her film Pottero and the students were nervous about getting into it because a lot of them didn’t have a lot of technological experience. And so, it was intimidating, but we just had to reassure them that it was really user-friendly, and they got the hang of it really fast. We saw a lot of people making subtle realizations and making things that made them feel good. 

Skidmore: That sounds really special. How did it make you feel to help the students make these realizations?

Brandes: It was inspiring. I especially connected with one student who was very insecure about her ability to use the iPad. She kept asking me for help, which I was happy to do. It was nice seeing her, from start to finish, feel much more confident in herself and be proud of the things she made over the three days.

Sam Brandes working with animation workshop participants

Skidmore: What was something you learned that surprised you?

Brandes: I guess I expected most people to be very reluctant, but everybody in the end was willing to try to grow and learn. 

Skidmore: How did this experience influence what your goals are for senior year or post-graduation?

Brandes: I definitely want to implement animation into my work, probably starting sooner than after graduation. It made me want to see how I can use film and animation to impact communities. I never thought that something so small and personal could make an impact like that on people, and myself. 

Skidmore: What role did having a mentor like Lindsey Martin have in your experience?

Brandes: Lindsey is one of my favorite people. She’s always been super supportive and I feel very comfortable with myself and my ideas around her. Knowing that she was there with the students, I knew that they were going to have that same feeling and experience that I've always had with her. I just tried to take what I had learned from Lindsey and replicate that to enhance that experience [for the students].

Skidmore: What would you say to encourage other students to participate in mentorships in the arts? 

Brandes: It’s a chance to grow as an artist and student and, [in my case,] get closer to your professor where you feel like you can trust them more and know that they have your best interests at heart. It just made me feel very seen. I felt like I could do more than I thought I could.