Making a Difference: One Man, One Vision

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At NYIT, Communication Arts students are given the opportunity of a lifetime. Producing journalists, who can write, edit, and deliver the news, advertisers who design, digitalize, animate, and publish websites, and filmmakers who write, direct, and edit for television, cinema, and the web. This combination of learning and doing offers a versatility that prepares students not only to be active participants but to also make a difference in the world around them. Actor, author, screenwriter, and filmmaker Turk Pipkin, is a prime example of someone using their craft to inspire people throughout the world, proving that one man’s vision can become a reality.

Pipkin is recognized for his long career in the world of books, television and film. Appearing on shows such as Friday Night Lights, the Alamo and the recurring character Aaron Arkaway in HBO’s The Sopranos. Most recently he’s known for his humanitarian service as the founder of the Nobelity Project, a non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas where the principal goals are education and bettering the lives of children across the globe. “The Nobelity Project reaches back to my wife and I,” Pipkin responds in an interview with the Slate. “Not long after 9/11 we were looking for a way to use our skills as filmmakers to be a little more engaged with the world and the problems and solutions that are happening.” Along with his wife Christy, Pipkin traveled five continents and 20 countries filming documentaries on global issues like climate change, hunger, education, health care and environment. He’s already filmed two documentaries Nobelity and One Peace at a Time, now he’s promoting his third installment Building Hope.

Building Hope tells the story of the Nobelity Project’s partnership with a rural community in Kenya to build the area’s first high school including classroom building, science and computer labs, and a library. Through drought, flood and fundraising challenges, Building Hope chronicles the construction of Mahiga Hope High and the connection between a thousand people in the U.S. and an African community working to create a better future for their children.  “When I get to some of the more remote areas it’s a very different experience for just one person” said Pipkin. “I’m able to interact with the community on a more personal basis I think than a full camera crew can. It’s kind of an ideal situation for seeing their lives the way they see their lives as oppose to just coming in and looking for images.”The way technology is constantly revolving gives filmmakers a smooth transition in filmmaking. “Cameras are smaller, lighter” replied Pipkin. “Fifteen years ago you needed a full crew, big audio and lightening to go out and shoot a documentary. Now you can go to very remote places in the world and you can shoot footage that was very difficult to get before.”

In the end, after all the hard work and dedication the end result is priceless. “You can’t beat seeing kids come into a library for the first time and look at giant walls full of books and just dig in like they’re starving to read.” Have there been other documentaries about global issues? Yes, but somehow this one stands out from the pack. “No one’s really gone in and documented a really inspiring story like Building Hope” Pipkin said. “It’s a very inspiring story. You see these kids and their families and their staff and teachers at the school and you realize how much they wanted it. How hard they’re willing to work and that’s a great story to tell.” So to the future filmmakers of this generation take note from Turk Pipkin create long-lasting films that impact the world without any compromise. “Any department you work in you’re learning part of the idea the way film works and the way storytelling works” replied Pipkin. “It’s really is a life- long learning. Making film is a long living process.”



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Making a Difference: One Man, One Vision