Topics: College of Architecture and Planning, College of Communication Information and Media, College of Sciences and Humanities, Immersive Learning

April 30, 2015

Filming takes place for “Indiana Crossrails: A Transit Choice"
An immersive learning class is ready to premiere “Indiana Crossrails: A Transit Choice,” the centerpiece of a campaign to raise awareness of Hoosiers about rail transportation.

Ball State University students are putting the finishing touches on the documentary “Indiana Crossrails: A Transit Choice,” the centerpiece of a campaign to raise awareness about rail transportation.

Students will debut their documentary May 9 at Ball State’s Indianapolis Center, 50 South Meridian St. Coinciding with National Train Day, the showcase will include an open house at 11 a.m. and the screening of the documentary at noon. The event is free and open to the public. (To get a preview, watch a promotional spot.)

The documentary is the primary component of the awareness campaign about rail transit options, including rapid transit in dense urban areas, commuter/light rail connections between large cities and suburbs and an expansion of regional/intercity service.

“The team understood the positive implications of a system that includes rail,” said Chris Flook, the project’s faculty adviser and a telecommunications instructor. “The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that doesn’t have a comprehensive transit plan with viable rail options. The documentary poses the question: what if? We were paying close attention to the revised plan that Amtrak, the Indiana Department of Transportation and Iowa Pacific developed recently.”

Ball State students began working closely with the Indiana Citizens Alliance for Transit (ICAT) and Amtrak earlier this year. The 18 students were in an immersive learning class offered through the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry and came from a variety of disciplines, including urban planning, telecommunications, English, history and communication studies.

The documentary was divided into sections, including the history of mass rail transit, Indiana’s existing systems, economic considerations, the environmental impact and the future of mass rail transit for the state.

“We took a different approach with five directors for this film,” said Garret Brubaker, who graduates in May and served as director and lead editor. “There was so much material to cover, we thought it best to divide the research into five manageable sections.”

Various teams traveled extensively throughout Indiana and the United States to conduct interviews and shoot footage for the project.

“We traveled to Utah, Colorado, Chicago, Michigan and North Carolina to get what we needed,” Brubaker said. “We had to go far because Indiana doesn’t really have much beyond the South Shore Line and Amtrak.”

The students wanted to show rail as one of many options for transportation, said Kiefer Wiseman of Fort Wayne, who recently completed his junior year and served as executive producer and one of the documentary’s directors.

“We wanted to show that advocating for mass transit isn’t championing the use of trains over cars,” he said. “Our campaign and our documentary show that rail is best when integrated with existing transit systems.”