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Nisbet Travels a New Path for Co-Curriculars
charlotte allen 14 editorial associate
December 19, 2012

Travers Nisbet ’13 has taken advantage of the art exemption program both this winter term and last winter term to edit two self-produced documentaries.

“I started planning the [first] film in the winter of my sophomore year,” Nisbet said. We filmed for two weeks in Colombia that June. After filming I started editing. I used my exemption to do most of the editing in the next winter, though I still had to do a large portion outside my exemption. After about a year and a half, I finished the film in July 2012.”

This was no small project, for Nisbet had to “compress 24 hours worth of footage into a 70-minute film.” He co-directed it with a friend from The Taft School, but edited it and produced it himself with guidance from Visual and Performing Arts Teacher Tim Trelease. He even got alum Simon Moushabeck ’12 to compose two pieces for the musical score.

“The documentary is a film that explores the education system in Colombia,” Nisbet said. “The goal of the film is to raise awareness about the difficulties the educators have in Colombia and hopefully promote change in some way. At a deeper level, however, the film seeks to confront the question of happiness and the degree to which education determines success in life, whether that means socioeconomic success or merely happiness.”

Continuing to delve into important social and cultural themes, Nisbet began filming a second documentary this summer on 9/11 and architecture. It “explores September 11th and memory, essentially how we use memory as a form of reparation from a traumatic event. The film uses 9/11 as a foundation to explore how societies react to trauma and how they [not only] use cultural and individual memory together as a form of healing, but also, sometimes, as an aversion to the reality of that trauma.”

He had the opportunity to interview David Childs, “the lead architect at the international firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and the architect of the new World Trade Center, as well as Paul Goldberger, an architect critic for the New York Times, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair.”

Nisbet has his work cut out for him this upcoming term, putting the finishing touches on his first documentary and editing down the second.

Mr. Trelease, his exemption advisor, said, “Travers is exceptionally motivated and determined to see his projects through to completion.”

He continued to say how “some of the most ambitious, community-based work in recent memory has sprung from the art exemption program. Peter Krasznekewicz’s Little White House Project, Ashley So’s ‘Not Just a Face’ project and Travers’ documentary have established a high standard for what is possible when Deerfield students are allowed creative space to pursue their artistic ideas.”

Mr. Trelease is working on a documentary film festival for this upcoming spring, when students will be able to see Nisbet’s documentaries along with the work of other students.