Cinematography student wins school awards for Skowhegan Fire Department documentary

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 5:35 PM EDT
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SKOWHEGAN, Maine (WABI) - ”It had to be a narrative, a documentary or a how-to,” said Shawn Packard, a Cinematography student at Full Sail University.

A school capstone project inspired a student to dig deep into his hometown.

“I live here, I have lived here my whole life. It has been home for me. It kind of means a lot with family and the traditions and the community that we have built here,” Packard said.

As a graduating senior, he says it was important to him to leave and spread the legacy of Maine through film.

“I know how important it is for film in a lot of bigger states and Maine, it’s a blip,” Packard said.

Hoping to change that soon, he starts with an emphasis on the dwindling volunteerism at fire stations across Maine.

“We see so many volunteer fire departments traveling through Maine, and we never see anyone really there and this is why,” Packard said.

Why? He says people may not be up to it anymore, leaving many of the firefighters to work in multiple stations in a volunteer capacity.

“For all you know, they could work at 5 or 6 of them,” he said.

Skowhegan Fire Chief Ronnie Rodriguez says it is an issue across the country, not just in Maine.

“The issue at hand is the amount of hours that it takes to train and get people certified to the standard where they can help,” Rodriguez said.

Additionally, he says there may be other conflicting interests.

“Youth sports, church, the different rotary type clubs,” Rodriguez explained.

During the three days he spent at the station, Packard says he learned that the firefighters carried with them much more than the gear -- the emotional toll the job takes may be heavy but it’s strengthened their bond to where they all feel like family.

“These firefighters all care for each other, they are there for each other, they have each other’s back,” Packard said.

And then a call came in. Within 90 seconds, they are out to the door to face the unknown.

“You never know what you are going to experience from day to day... and that is the beautiful thing about this profession, is no two days are the same,” Rodriguez said.

Shawn won multiple awards for the documentary including best cinematography, editing and Best of among his class.

He says looks forward putting Maine on the map when it comes to films.

Here is the link to the documentary.