When Digital Cinema and Comm Studies Collide

Student Film Showcases Small Group Communication at SOU

With the driest possible wit and a little Adobe Premier, award-winning Digital Cinema senior Nathanael Lathrop used visual storytelling to create a satirical advertisement as a project in a recent section of COMM225 — Small Group Communication at Southern Oregon University.

Using stock footage of small groups, at-home workers, families and individuals, Lathrop paints a picture of the stress, insecurity and anxiety that miscommunication can cause.

Screen capture of infomercial with bullet points

“Do you suffer from not knowing what’s going on in a group? Not understanding social dynamics, or being confused as to what someone is telling you?” asks Lathrop as he appears on screen to offer his take.

Lathrop presents himself as an uncertified doctor with a minor in socializing, and pitches his solution: “The COMM225, a prescription drug which highly reduces the negative effects of interacting with others, and takes away much of the stress that can surface when working in a group.”

Lathrop created his video to fulfill one of the requirements for a team project in a section of COMM225 instructed by Erica Knotts. Small Group Communication is a signature course in the Communication Studies curriculum at SOU.

“I decided to make a type of infomercial, which treated COMM225 as a medication,” Lathrop said, “but while talking about this medication, I would also spread my knowledge of lack of communication and the benefits of communication.”

Small Group Communication is often offered online, and puts groups of students together to examine a common small group problem from multiple perspectives. “For example, a group might choose to focus on leadership issues, communication, or power dynamics,” Knotts said. “Groups then work to create a website to address their group’s problem and are asked to include research articles, videos, infographics, film reviews and other content.”

“I think what I appreciated about the video is the creativity and fun that Nathaneal had when putting it together,” Knotts said. “In an entertaining way, it also represents the learning outcomes of the course and reflects the types of skills and strategies I want students to walk away with.”

Meanwhile, Lathop’s ambitions in filmmaking keep moving on: he also recently won both the collegiate section of the Launch competition at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and multiple categories at the SOU Student Film Festival with his inventive short film Too Much Chow.

Story by Autumn Micketti (@mountainmusicwoman), Community Manager for the Communication Program at Southern Oregon University.