Students premiere film on nonprofit cafe

Re-enter: My New Community

Student filmmakers show the struggles of ex-convicts who work at Haley House, a nonprofit bakery and café in Boston, in their new documentary Re-enter: My New Community.

By Claude Bartholomew
December 20, 2012

Four student filmmakers have completed an in-depth documentary on Haley House, a nonprofit bakery and café in Roxbury that gives jobs to former convicts who are trying to turn their lives around.

The Department of Visual and Media Arts students, in the VM 420 Documentary for Social Action class, focused their film on Haley House’s Transitional Employment Program (TEP).

Over the summer, Emerson’s Office of Service Learning and Community Action received over 40 documentary proposals from organizations across Greater Boston, demonstrating the immense need for individuals with the skills necessary to produce well-planned and professionally executed videos. Increasingly, nonprofits are using these videos for various purposes, including training, awareness-raising, volunteer recruitment, and fundraising.

Haley House film

From right, Llew Smith, Kathe Gregory and Peggy Kutcher are among a packed crowd viewing an Emerson student-produced film on Haley House, a Roxbury nonprofit bakery and cafe, on December 14. (Photo by Bob Nesson)

The Haley House film follows three strong characters who convey in words and powerful live action how their lives have been transformed by their new work experiences.

TEP is designed to assist individuals re-entering the workforce and transitioning back into their community by training them in culinary and baking skills. Since the mid-1990s, the program has evolved to provide hands-on work experience that develops the necessary skills for future employment in a safe and stable environment.

“I think we all surprised ourselves by our final project and how beautifully it came out. It’s astounding to me how much I learned in this process. We learned technical elements…as well as how to interact with interview subjects and how to form a relationship built on trust so that your characters feel comfortable telling their stories. It is by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my Emerson career.”

Student filmmakers Ryan Egan ’13, Christine Maroon ’13, Megan McLaughlin ’13, Gina Varamo ’13 and part-time faculty member and filmmaker Bob Nesson premiered the 15-minute documentary, Re-enter: My New Community, to a packed room December 14 at Haley House.

Students spent the semester conducting interviews with individuals enrolled in the program and documenting their daily activities. This work included occasional filming of workers opening the café at 4 am and delivering baked goods across Boston before sunrise.

The students were tasked with creating a documentary capable of building awareness for the organization and an important social cause, but the experience was far richer than any of them had expected.

“I think we all surprised ourselves by our final project and how beautifully it came out,” Maroon said. “It’s astounding to me how much I learned in this process. We learned technical elements…as well as how to interact with interview subjects and how to form a relationship built on trust so that your characters feel comfortable telling their stories. It is by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my Emerson career.”

Varamo says she is grateful for the experience and to be “part of the Haley House family through our work.”

Haley House film

Danny Cordon, Director of Wholesale and Transitional Employment at Haley House, discusses the production. Also shown are Joe Bartley of Haley House, Christine Maroon '13, Ryan Egan '13, Gina Veramo '13, and Megan McLaughlin '13. (Photo by Bob Nesson)


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