One Binghamton University student took on the task of filming a documentary about sexual assault that features a diverse cast.
Shola Gbemi, a junior majoring in psychology, came up with the idea for “Let’s Talk About It: Sexual Harassment and the Importance of Consent” after realizing that the videos he was showing students during his internship with the Interpersonal Violence Prevention (IVP) program did not reflect the diversity he saw at BU.
“It was impossible for me to find a video where I felt like enough people were talking about it, or different people were talking about it,” Gbemi said. “I felt like these videos can be taken a step forward from a Caucasian female who’s been a victim of sexual assault or who’s been harassed.”
He said that his frustration led him to write up a proposal for Jessica Krohn, BU’s IVP coordinator. In it, he explained why he wanted to do the project.
“I know that when it comes to anything I watch, it has to be appealing to me,” he said. “So if I feel like I can’t relate to what I’m watching, or I can’t relate to who I’m seeing in the video, my interest level will drop. And that’s the last thing that I feel should happen when one is watching videos that pertain to that kind of subject matter.”
Gbemi said he started filming the documentary without a firm vision of what the final product would look like. His first step was to get as many students involved as he could.
“I started reaching out to friends from different political organizations,” he said. “I reached out to a few guys from the SA, the Black Student Union, the African Student Organization, LASU (Latin American Student Union) — just trying to dip my hand into as many orgs as were willing to participate in my project.”
The documentary opens on a skit featuring three male students making inappropriate remarks to a group of women who walk by them. After an introduction from Gbemi and co-host Josh Schultz, there are several interviews in which students answer questions such as “How would you define sexual harassment?” and “How would you define consent?”
The video features members from various campus cultural organizations, as well as students participating in Greek Life.
Before deciding to make the documentary, Gbemi had no filmmaking experience. However, he received assistance from Oliver Lau and Nick Maciarz, two freshmen who are part of the Binghamton Film Initiative.
“I wanted to challenge myself to see how well I could make this work,” Gbemi said. “They taught me a lot of things about just being on set and working with cameras.”
The video was posted to YouTube on Dec. 11 and got more than 200 views in its first week. However, according to Gbemi, the timing of the posting was poor, as it came right before finals week and winter break.
He said that he relied mainly on Facebook to share the video, and that he is hoping it gets more views during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“If I can get from 280 to 500, that means that 220 more people are now aware of this issue,” Gbemi said. “If I can get to 800, that’ll be phenomenal. Every view is another person getting educated, another person that has an opportunity to learn about these things in a more appealing way.”