STORY BY MOLLY ADAMSON
“There are not a lot of art forms that document other art forms,” said Sam Fathallah, a sophomore advertising major with a chemistry minor.
But that is exactly what he is doing. Fathallah is a filmmaker who specializes in filming other people participating in other art forms.
He was the one behind the Street Painting video that was published to the Drake University Facebook page last spring. For the video, Fathallah wrapped his brand-new camera in painter’s tape and plastic bags, and then immersed himself into all the action that is Street Painting.
His camera was covered in paint by the end, but still usable, and he caught footage of people interacting with the camera and having a good time. Not many filmmakers or photographers are willing to go into the mess that is Street Painting, but Fathallah was, and his work paid off.
Fathallah leads a very busy life. Not only does he have occasional film projects, like the Street Painting video, but he’s also very involved around campus. He’s a photo editor for Drake Magazine, a member of D+ Improv and Photography Club, a marketing intern for the Meyocks Club, a videographer for the Student Senate, a member of the Student Senate PR team, a worker in the Outdoor Leadership Program and in the Campus Outreach program, which is trying to shed a positive light on the people of the surrounding Drake neighborhoods. Fathallah is involved in even more than that long list, but that’s all he could remember at this point in time.
Fathallah also started a filming project with a couple of his friends, which he calls “Painted Street Sessions.” In these short films, he documents people singing or playing instruments on the Painted Street. Fathallah says the videos give people who might not see music as a career choice a chance to show their talent.
“When someone else is filming it, it’s less ‘I’m putting myself out there” and instead more of “someone else is documenting me, so I feel comfortable,’” Fathallah explained.
Fathallah caught the bug for being behind the camera at age 13 when his family went out to places like Disney World. He says he was always making silly videos with his sisters, and he learned how to use Moviemaker by editing those videos. He made video blogs with friends in middle school, and then he finally bought his own camera in high school.
“I can film a person painting a canvas. I can film the story of that canvas to be a part of the painting,” Fathallah said. “When you see a painting, all you see is the painting, you don’t see what went into it. I think that’s half of the art — what went into it, the way it was done.”
Todd Evans, a journalism professor who has had Fathallah in class, praised his student.
“There is an openness and sincere curiosity to Sam Fathallah that I think sets him apart from lots and lots and lots of people,” Evans said. “If you went way up to the sky and looked down upon the Earth and saw all the puzzle pieces that make up Drake University, he’s one of the puzzle pieces. This is where he should be for right now.“
Fathallah certainly brings creativity to the Drake campus. The Painted Street video was his own idea, and now with his new project, the Distinctly Drake video, he is working with others on the Communications Board to produce the best product he possibly can.
Fathallah’s video showcases five people from Drake, including faculty and students, and shows how they have been impacted by the campaign.
The video will debut on October 3 and will be a way to celebrate the campaign’s success of meeting and bypassing their goal.
Danny Akright, former Digital Media Publisher for Drake University’s Office of Communications who has worked closely with Fathallah on the Distinctly Drake project, commented on Fathallah’s work ethic.
“Sam is a pretty self-motivated guy. It doesn’t take a lot of direction to get him going where you want him to go,” Akright said. “He does a really great job of taking the direction that he is given and running with it to create a really effective and moving video. He was a really easy guy to work with.”
Fathallah’s accomplishments reflect the opportunities Drake’s education provides. With an expansive portfolio already, the sophomore will undoubtedly continue to advance his career.