Adjunct professor teaches diversity through film

Kellie Gleeson

As students, we are unaware of what the future holds for us. We sit in our classrooms, imagining that one day, we will be teachers, writers or even scientists. But, in reality, we have no idea what road we will take when we leave college.

It was the same way for Claudia Pryor, adjunct professor of journalism here at Quinnipiac. Pryor graduated from Harvard University with a degree in English, but now works as the vice president of her own production company called “Network Refugees.”

“My partner and I started the company, so that we could make serious films about people of color,” said Pryor.

Pryor and her partner Gregory Branch, a broadcast journalist, are responsible for coming up with their own ideas.

“My partner is great at finding stories,” said Pryor. “Other ideas just pop into our heads. But, they all deal with our area: people of color from all over the world.”

Since 2001, Pryor and Branch, have looked at social and racial issues and tried to make the world see that we are not so different.

“We try to look at people outside of America,” said Pryor. “Therefore we can look at the issues from their point of view.”

In doing this, all groups of color (American and foreign) will be represented in the documentaries.

“As much as the people in the United States are not represented,” said Pryor. “The people in villages or Taiwan are not. We are all the same – we just live in different places.”

Network Refugees is a non-profit organization. Pryor and Branch get the money used to make the documentaries from donations and people willing to fund the films.

“So far, we have funding for two films,” said Pryor. “This is seven grants.”

The biggest support of the documentaries come from the people the videos are covering.

“Right now, since we are in the process of making all these films, the people themselves are our biggest supporters,” said Pryor. “Through them, we hope everyone will be interested in the films we are creating.”

When these films are finished, Network Refugees hopes that they will be broadcasted around the world.

“We are hoping to get the documentaries aired on cable, network and television abroad,” said Pryor.

This process will take some time for two reasons. The first is the fact that all the documentaries done by the organization are independent films.

“We have three major films in progress right now,” said Pryor. “Making independent films is a very very long and difficult process. You have to work, then make money, then work again.”

The other reason is because Network Refugees also trains disadvantaged people when they are on shoot. People from the areas that are shooting help them in the production process.

“We need help from them because they are used to the area,” said Pryor. “So we help them and give them skills to make them better at the jobs that they are already doing.”

This has helped the people in the areas in a positive way.

“The people that have worked with us in projects, though not many yet, have gotten more prepared and have greater skills,” said Pryor.

Pryor said that even though this work is difficult at times, she feels very strongly about it and she believes that it brings a strong message to all.

“I feel like I had to do this,” said Pryor. “I work in the area of network, so it was the best thing that I could do to bring the messages to all.”

Even with her crazy life of teaching, producing and being Vice President of Network Refugees, she wouldn’t give up her jobs for anything.

“It is a little bit of a challenge. When you produce independent films, you are not on a regular schedule,” said Pryor. “Your schedule takes a hold of your life and you are juggling several different things at once. It is an exciting life, though.”