PART 1 – Back to School.

OpenDocLab Fellow Raney Aronson-Rath describes what it’s like to be back in school after 20 years. Her blog will follow her year-long journey as she re-imagines how interactive documentary filmmaking will impact her thinking and her work at FRONTLINE, where she is Deputy Executive Producer. This piece was originally posted at

I had one of those weeks where big moments collided: ­ my daughter started kindergarten, my son 3rd grade, and 20 years after my last academic experience at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism I started as a fellow in the Open Documentary Lab at MIT.

This lab is the only academic lab that devotes itself entirely to interactive documentary filmmaking, and it sees itself as a convener for filmmakers who are making interactive films and those who are passionate and interested in making them.

The fellowship is only part time, and I’ll workshop a couple of ideas with the lab as well. As I sat with my laptop open listening to the first lecture by William Uricchio, who is a professor and director of the Comparative Media Studies Program, I had a sense of déjà vu. For anyone who has gone back to school after decades you’ll get it. I sat there just listening—not needing to weigh in or do much of anything at all. After years of working, I realized my job was to actually relax enough to take in his words and see how his ideas might help me see the start of a path through what I consider to be my own most challenging creative hurdle in years.

So that’s what this fellowship is about:  I’ll take you on my own journey—and along the way, you’ll hear the highlights of what the lecturers have to say about this emerging field. It’s fascinating…!

NextPart 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

You can read more from Raney: