Senior Carmen Vincent has enjoyed telling stories since she was young. Now, she uses documentaries to tell both her own stories and others.’ Vincent began her journey making these stories around two years ago, after spending two weeks filming in Bethlehem, Palestine for an internship, where she saw “the real conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”
“[The conflict] broke my heart and made me realize that there are real stories that need to be told beyond news outlets and traditional media in actual documentary films where people can have their voices be heard,” Vincent said.
Vincent’s documentaries focus on individuals and their stories, giving them a public voice and spreading awareness over less spoken but important topics.
“I think knowing that even if no one responds to the film by seeing it, at least it makes a difference for the person in the film to feel heard. It’s a great way to build people up by listening to their story, validating them for who they are and not judging them,” Vincent said.
Additionally, she finds that centering on one person’s experience is easier than trying to cover an entire subject.
“Telling someone's story is a much more approachable and easy way to connect with a topic,” Vincent said.
Although focusing on an individual is easier than trying to make a film about an entire subject, Vincent admits telling a person’s story is still extremely complex.
“I often feel like I'm not doing their lives justice, because how can you capture a human life in a film,” Vincent said. “That's so difficult, but so far I've been met with a positive response from the people in my films, which is good. I just want to make sure that I always keep that as a priority to try to do justice to their story.”
Before making documentaries, Vincent saw her tendency to listen rather than to speak as a flaw, especially in classes. Now, Vincent finds that it’s her biggest asset when creating documentaries because it helps her to understand and unpack people's stories. Listening allows her to sympathize and connect with the person she is interviewing.
Vincent believes spreading awareness is important, but the goal of her documentaries are not to change the world.
“So I was just in an interview, and someone asked me, ‘how are your films going to change the world?’ I'm like, that's not the point,” Vincent said. “I don't want them to change the world. I don't think that much of my films or any film, really.”
“I think the point is to introduce you to a new perspective,” Vincent continued. “So that it's just in the back of your mind and someday it might help you or it might open your mind a little more. Those little changes, I think, really add up and that's all I want.”
So far, Vincent has won the International Director Award at the Georgia Documentary Film Festival, received the Nikon Storytellers Scholarship, has had her documentaries shown at film festivals and has even applied to have two of her documentaries on Amazon Prime. In the future, she hopes to start applying for grants and begin proposing to producers, so that she can make bigger productions and branch out.
To follow Vincent’s work, subscribe and watch her documentaries on her YouTube channel, Carmen Vincent Films.