Oscar winners return to Wright State University to inspire next generation of filmmakers

Local News

FAIRBORN, Ohio (WDTN) – Academy Award winners, Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert, were back in the Miami Valley on Thursday to teach the next generation of filmmakers just days after winning an Oscar for their documentary, “American Factory.”

Reichert and Bognar are both former professors at Wright State University, Bognar is also an alumni, and spent Thursday afternoon talking to students about their experience as filmmakers and hoped from their testimony, that students learned the importance of hard work and community.

Students in attendance said Reichert and Bognar are legends in the Department of Theater, Dance and Motion Picture, and the fact they were able to learn from the nation’s best documentary makers was not lost on them.

They told 2 NEWS the presentation inside the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures will take them far in their film making careers.

“I learned to carefully tell their story, even if it’s your own story, that’s a very responsible part of being a filmmaker, you have to tell these stories carefully and with passion,” said Marissa Coleman, a senior film student at WSU.

Bognar and Reichert had just made it back from L.A. and their Oscar win when they stopped at their former stomping grounds to meet with the room full of students, many hopeful documentary makers themselves.

“Last year, Hannah Beachler won an Academy Award, she’s an alumni of this very program, and she came right after she won to WSU and talked with students, passed the Oscar around, and that really inspired us to come today,” said Bognar.

They also passed their Oscar around but said their passion doesn’t come from the desire to win awards, but to tell Midwestern stories and they hoped the students learn documentary film making isn’t a career, it’s a way of life.

“You fumble your way around, there’s so much uncertainty, it’s a bad movie for many months before it’s a good movie, and having faith in that process that if you put in the time, the work will emerge and it will get better,” said Bognar.

Bognar and Reichert said they’re working on another documentary that will premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March.

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