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Student Filmmakers Seize the Moment as Industry Adapts

Lockdown poses many hurdles for artists, but it did not stop Duke student filmmakers from making new work. In times of uncertainty, trust, working at smaller scales, and being true to yourself are essential.

Omoloa Sanusi on the set of "Gurus"
Omolola Sanusi on the set of "Gurus"

Omolola Sanusi '21, a global cultural studies major and former StudioDuke mentee in love with everything arts, had plans at the beginning of 2020 to shoot a short film based on a TV pilot she wrote. The resulting project, “Gurus,” is Sanusi’s ninth student film. She called up her friend Peter LaBoy Jr. '21 for production support and they agreed to complete the film in March.

“I ended up rewriting the short a couple of times, but the most major change was it initially centered on a family of four,” Sanusi said. “And then I thought, let’s just have a brother and sister because COVID-19 requires social distancing. After we reworked it, I let Peter know early on that I wanted to shoot as soon as possible during the fall semester, just because I wasn’t sure how long we’d all still be allowed on campus.”

“Gurus” was LaBoy’s second time working as a producer. His first short, “Mixtape,” was produced with DUU Freewater Productions, Duke’s student-run film and video production group. LaBoy shared that when working on any project, and especially in such uncertain times, you have to learn to adapt and think quickly on your feet — because nothing ever goes as planned.

“Going forward, I definitely want to make sure I have a team of people I can trust and that I’m being true to myself, so I can be quick to adapt to any circumstances that arise,” LaBoy said.