Seniors Evan Aroko and Eric Maloney create short-film ‘Stay Centred: In-Depth’ in the midst of COVID-19

Centre College seniors Evan Aroko (Salem, Massachusetts) and Eric Maloney (Brookfield, Connecticut) created a film titled “Stay Centred: In-Depth,” a short visual piece that allows a few of the students left on campus, as well as faculty members to share their thoughts and feelings regarding the unexpected atmosphere shift on campus due to COVID-19.

As Centre was in the middle of making the adjustments to the semester due to the pandemic, and students were in the process of leaving campus, Robyn Cutright, Charles T. Hazelrigg Associate Professor of Anthropology and interim director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, had the idea of capturing their experiences in short video clips. Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Ellen Goldey also liked the idea, and she hoped that it could result in something that was honest about the challenges everyone is facing but still have positive aspects.

Director of Film Studies Stacey Peebles was brought into the conversation and said she knew just how to make this happen.

“Eric and Evan were both staying on campus, they’re both seniors and film minors and basically their entire temperaments could be described as ‘realistic but positive,’” Peebles said. “And because they’re both taking my ‘Silence and Sound in Film’ class this semester, they could use a film project to count as an assignment.”

Aroko said he and Maloney created this visual short to not only share what life is now like on campus but also to allow members of the Centre community to share their own positive and hopeful messages to members of the Centre community at home.

“We wanted to show how, in despite tough times, Centre’s community continues to stay strong and how many of us are looking forward to coming back together, face-to-face, on campus,” Aroko added.

In terms of how they crafted the structure of the film, Maloney said he and Aroko took an afternoon planning the message they wanted to get across and what exactly they wanted to capture.

“We knew we wanted to interview a variety of people from different backgrounds and roles within the Centre community,” Maloney said. “We settled on three students, three faculty and of course we had to include the Roushes. In terms of tone, we definitely wanted to emulate a bit of the somberness that came with everyone now away from one another, but we didn’t want the film to be a downer. We wanted to show hope. The hope that, even though this is an unfortunate situation, we will still be able to come together once again, but stronger, resilient and more connected.”

This is the second film project Aroko and Maloney have worked on together.

“It’s always fun to work with him,” Aroko said. “We both met during our first year at Centre in our ‘Introduction to Film’ class with Professor Peebles. Ever since then, we’ve been sharing loads of story and film ideas, and we both hope to meet each other at the Oscars in the future.”

Peebles said she’s always excited to see what Aroko and Maloney create, especially since their talents have developed so much since they started as first-years, who were already deeply enthusiastic about film.

“In this project, they included a brief shot taken with a drone camera, and I brought my daughter to watch them capture it—it’s a lot of fun for me to see them deal successfully with technical challenges like that and to direct as a team,” she shared.

Aroko said that, for them, this film is special, because their main goal was to give viewers on campus and at home a sense of hope and optimism for the coming future, especially for seniors who were unable to complete their last year on campus. He said since viewing the film on campus and sharing it through social media, they’ve received a great deal of positive feedback.

“Film can be a powerful tool to inspire or just bring up peoples’ spirits,” Maloney concluded. “That’s what Evan and I set out to do with this film —to try and encourage the Centre community that we are still as strong and connected as ever, that we can overcome any challenges thrown our way, and we can have fun and be creative even in tough times. That’s what makes this film special.”

by Kerry Steinhofer
May 8, 2020

Header image: Evan Aroko ’20 (left) and Eric Maloney ’20 (right) pose together for a photo on campus after filming a portion of their video project.