Marine -turned-moviemaker and Penn State graduate Jennifer Crandell said she followed her dreams and chose to live life doing something that made her happy.
“When I was a kid, I was interested in creating worlds and characters to go in these worlds,” Crandell, (graduate-film-video and integrative arts) said. “[But] I thought I needed to do something practical.”
When Crandell, Penn State Class of 2012, came back from the Marines, she decided to instead follow her passion in life and chose to double major in film-video and integrative arts, she said.
Crandell produced a documentary entitled “The Derby Girls” for one of her final projects.
This film is a nine-minute documentary about women involved in roller derby in State College.
Crandell entered “The Derby Girls” into the ArcLight Cinema’s Second Annual Documentary Festival. Her film is ranked among the top five finalists for the documentary category .
Crandell’s decision to create a documentary on derby girls was “somewhat random,” she said. It stemmed from footage she had already shot when a friend asked her to film the derby girls for a commercial, Crandell said.
When she was given a final project to create a documentary, Crandell took the footage she had previously accumulated on derby.
Crandell said she chose to create this film in order to show “the nice side” and “the tough side” of derby women.
“I thought it’d be a good way to show the world that derby is here,” she said.
Crandell said she wanted to show “the women behind the paint.” Her film is about “what makes these girls tick” and how the sport has helped the women, she said.
This sport allows women to become confident, build friendships, and find a healthy outlet for aggression, Crandell said.
Barbara Bird, an associate professor in the College of Communications and one of Crandell’s professors, wrote in an email that, “[Jennifer] was an excellent, involved student that did high quality documentary film work in every class she took with me.”
Rod Bingaman, a senior lecturer in the College of Communications, was also one of Crandell’s professors.
He described her as a “very driven person who was independent.”
“[I would] give her an assignment, and she would make it her own,” Bingaman said. “She’s the kind of student you want [in filmmaking].”
Bingaman said Crandell’s film has a positive message and shows the more human side of the women.
There is a misconceived stereotype of who derby women are, Bingaman said.
The film is more a “character documentary,” he added.
“[It is] more about the individuals and the relationship of the group,” he said.
Crandell said her documentary “The Derby Girls” highlights the positive aspects of the sport.
“Don’t put [derby] off to the side or dismiss it. There’s a lot of camaraderie. It’s the same as any sport, except on roller skates,” she said.
Voting for the best film documentary takes place Nov. 5 to Nov. 8 during the festival in California, and the winner will be announced on Nov. 10.