As part of their senior capstone project last academic year, KSC alumni Coleen Finn and Michael Russillo set out to create a documentary highlighting mental health on campus.
Now, Finn and Russillo are seeing their project, “Shouting at the Walls,” being put up for awards at the Ethos International Film Festival in Santa Monica, CA and the International Social Change Film Festival in Chicago, IL.
“I never expected any of this stuff to have happened with the festivals… I thought this was extremely important, but in the back of my brain I didn’t think this was ever gonna go anywhere,” Finn said.
Since before the capstone process began, Finn knew she wanted this project to advocate for mental health on campus.
“I know firsthand what it’s like to be a college student, whether or not COVID[-19] was a factor, and dealing with mental health,” Finn said. “… I know I [wasn’t] the only person that deals with this… Something that I’ve noticed is that it does not get talked about, especially for college students.”
Russillo said that he is also a strong advocate for mental health on college campuses.
“I’m passionate about mental health, it’s a big thing,” Russillo said. “… I like to tell people’s stories [and] I like to get them out there and Coleen’s the same way.”
Finn mentioned that their process was different from other projects in the capstone.
“Our planning process was very different compared to everyone in our class because we were the only ones doing a documentary,” Finn said. “… [Professor Taylor Dunne] had us do our script while we were in the middle of editing… We [also] interviewed ourselves and ask[ed] ourselves questions about why we were doing this film and why we find it important.”
Finn described the process of putting together the student interviews shown in the film.
“I really wanted to showcase the campus and say [that] these are real students on an actual campus so what we did were [headshot] interviews,” Finn said. “… We did all those interviews in different locations.”
Russillo said that finding people to interview was a challenge the crew had to overcome.
“We were gonna do a Google Form anonymous survey and were trying to get statistics about the school, but that didn’t work out too well,” Russillo said. “We were [also] gonna have an optional thing where people say, ‘Hey, I’d like to be interviewed for this film,’ unfortunately that didn’t work too well [either].”
KSC senior William Cribb worked on the project as an editor and mentioned that the crew had a hard time deciding which interviews to include for the final edit.
“The biggest problems were figuring out what needed to be cut, what did we not need to be there,” Cribb said. “There’s a phrase in the whole filmmaking world called, ‘Kill your darlings,’ where essentially you’re learning to be able to take something you love and say, ‘I don’t need you and I’m getting rid of you.’”
Cribb mentioned that he is currently in Finn and Russillo’s shoes with being tasked with his own capstone project.
“I have a lot of experience that I can really bring to the table [with my own capstone] in terms of fundraising and potential issues that come up,” Cribb said. “I feel like I’ve been able to provide some level of reasoning and logic to the whole thing.”
Finn described the process behind submitting the film for awards.
“We used FilmFreeway to look at the [festivals]… It was about 26 different film festivals we were gonna submit to, [so we] brought that over to the CGI grant board,” Finn said.
Russillo said he is eager to see who else “Shouting at the Walls” impacts.
“I think this is a really good thing and it’ll start a discussion,” Russillo said. “That’s our main goal of the film.”
Finn hopes that “Shouting at the Walls” amplifies student voices.
“This film was really about giving a voice to the students who may not have the opportunity to talk about this in any of our capacity,” Finn said.
Nicole Dumont can be contacted at