Tuttle Summer Arts Lab 2016: “The Pool Movie”

Harlow Figa (’16), Nick Gandolfo-Lucia (’16), Marcelo Jauregui-Volpe (’18), and Sarah Moses (’16) are Tuttle Summer Arts Lab 2016 fellows. This year, the Tuttle Summer Arts Lab provides students the opportunity to work with Vicky Funari on her new feature film, the as-of-yet untitled “Pool Movie.” Fellows are collaborating with the subjects of the film to produce content for the website, research ways to make the website accessible to older people, and contribute to the intellectual climate of the project.

Film still by Vicky Funari

Film still by Vicky Funari, Pool Movie Project

Vicky describes the film as “a documentary film about a group of older women who find strength, grace, and community in an aquacize class at their neighborhood swimming pool. Set in a YMCA swimming pool in the suburbs of Philadelphia, this group of 60-90 year old women have spent 25 years together in the pool. The film documents the class’s final year in the old pool, as the Y prepares to close the branch and transition to a shiny, new building. Over a year in the pool, creative projects flourish, illness strikes, friendships evolve, seasons change. This is a study of older bodies and souls in water, in motion, in transition, and in community with each other.”

Below, each of the fellows describes their relationship to the project and what they have been working on so far:

Marcelo: I caught a quick glimpse of the poster promoting this year’s summer arts lab as I was walking around Stokes this past spring. In that glimpse I noticed the water, the people, and pool dumbbells. These faint images instantly reminded me of a project Vicky Funari mentioned to me in the fall when I interviewed her for a journalism class. I decided to turn around and give the poster a good look. My thoughts were confirmed, and I felt as if it was necessary for me to apply. I took a production class with Vicky both semester’s this past school year, and in the process learned about what it really takes to be a documentary filmmaker. Vicky’s courses forced me to re-imagine the documentary form and tap into the creative reservoirs of my mind. By being a part of this summer arts lab, I believe I can continue this growth. The subject matter also appeals to me, since I have been immersed in pools and oceans since I was three. Aging has also crossed my mind a lot recently, since I’ve been starting to notice that a lot of the people who raised me are now starting to face greater limitations with their bodies.

My other team member is Nick Gandolfo-Lucia, which excites me, due to his thoughtfulness and experience. Through our meetings with the community fellows, we have come up with a lot of ideas on how to expand on and reinforce the material from Vicky’s film.

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Film still by Vicky Funari, Pool Movie Project

Sarah: I took my first class with Vicky the spring of my sophomore year, and quickly realized I wanted to pursue a career in documentary filmmaking. I continued taking classes with Vicky throughout my time at Haverford, and am beyond excited to be working on the “Pool Movie” project after having heard much about it over the past few years.  I just graduated with a Haverford degree (although my Film and Media Studies major was based at Swarthmore – thanks tri-co!) and am happy to be on my home turf for the summer working with so many intelligent, inciteful, and fun people.

This project involves collaboration with Vicky Funari, Hilary Brashear ‘14, and nine community fellows who are all subjects in the film. I am currently working on a team with Harlow and a group of community fellows (Jeannine, Dottie, Martha, and Joel), along with fellow documentary student Nishat Hossain. We have been brainstorming content for the future “Pool Movie” site, including video diaries, mini memoirs, and portrait vignettes. One of the most rewarding aspects of the fellowship has been our collaboration with the community fellows, from our brainstorming sessions to our Photoshop and InDesign workshops. We have also been discussing cross-generational platform accessibility, and playing around with a breadth of interactive documentary websites. In the coming weeks we will continue working closely with the other fellows developing and producing content for the movie’s future website….

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Film still by Vicky Funari, Pool Movie Project

Nick: Like many of the other fellows on this project, I came to documentary film through a course I took with Professor Funari during my sophomore year. In that course, I (along with David Roza ‘15) produced an unfortunate and more or less irredeemable short film titled Cup Dreams, which personified the plastification of our water supply under the environmental indifference of late capitalism. Despite its inherent cheekiness, the film was one of the most difficult and most worthwhile projects I had ever been asked to undertake by a professor, and it led me to take a class with Vicky every subsequent year until graduation. I heard murmurings of her current feature film project intermittently throughout these courses: the ambiguously titled “Pool Movie.” As someone who had been lured into the proverbial deep end of documentary under her tutelage, I very much wanted to know more about her own project. Fortuitously, the spring of my senior year, the Hurford Center began accepting applications for the Tuttle Summer Arts Lab 2016, which presented the opportunity to work for Vicky on her film by producing content for the website in collaboration with the subjects of her film. Being equal parts interested in Vicky’s project and desperately seeking any kind of gainful employment for the conclusion of my time as an undergrad, I applied and was accepted to the Lab.

For the last several weeks, I have been on a team with Marcelo, another student fellow, and Shellie, Sherry, Lorraine, Tricia, and Jean, all of whom are subjects in the “Pool Movie.” Together we have brainstormed ideas for the website, especially focusing on how to make the website accessible and entertaining for older people. In addition to planning the vignettes and coordinating filming dates with the local YMCA, we have learned Photoshop and InDesign as a way to mock up web pages and potential content. By the end of the summer, our group is hoping to finish 3 sections, including a virtual art gallery and a short film about how the men that use the Y feel about being in a woman-majority aquatic space.

Film still by Vicky Funari, Pool Movie Project

Film still by Vicky Funari, Pool Movie Project

Harlow: I first met Vicky through curating a seminar/panel discussion my Sophomore year with the CPGC, which included Vicky and brief discussion of her film Live Nude Girls Unite!.  The following semester, I decided to indulge my long-term interest in film and filmmaking, so I signed up for her Documentary Film and Approaches to Truth course. This turned out to be one of several classes I took with Vicky, with each subsequent course building upon skills and theories taught/learned previously. Vicky’s supportive and trusting mode of teaching allowed me to create films of high personal significance, which deepened my respect and enjoyment of filmmaking. Though I majored in Anthropology, minored in Health Studies, and concentrated in Gender/Sexuality, the flexibility of Haverford’s curriculum allowed me to build a strong foundation in documentary film theory and production. The Pool Project has been a wonderful way to directly apply my backgrounds in (media-based) Anthropology, Health Studies, and Gender/Sexuality, as the media-based project addresses a health-centered and gendered community.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Vicky Funari, Hilary Brashear, and  four of my friends/peers (Sarah, Marcelo, Nick, and Nishat) outside of our usual classroom context. We have been working directly with the community members/film subjects, which has been a wonderful multi-generational learning experience. Other than discussing their stories and how we can incorporate them into the project, we have also been learning programs like InDesign and Photoshop to create content for this project. Right now, we’re working on scheduling shoots with our subjects for vignettes that may eventually live on the Pool Project [title pending] website. We’re also jumping into the deep pool of footage that Vicky has been collecting for several years, which feels like a particularly fortuitous opportunity after hearing her cursorily describe the project/footage during her classes.