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PLU documentary explores benefits of and barriers to higher education

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MediaLab's filming their 2015 documentary "These Four Years"
November 10, 2015

MediaLab, PLU’s award-winning film production program, is no stranger to documentaries. For the past many years a team of students have gotten together, and decided on a topic they thought they could shed some light on through stories and film. This year, the team chose a topic very close to home – higher education.

“We thought it was an interesting issue to tackle, because it’s something we are directly involved in and know a lot about, at least from a student perspective,” said Evan Heringer ’16, chief videographer of the film. “We were all pretty interested in what we found and came to the conclusion that pursuing this topic might help those who are attending or thinking about pursuing some form of higher education, have a positive experience.”

The resulting documentary, These Four Years, will premiere on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 at 3 p.m. in Seattle, Washington.

These Four Years investigates higher education, including factors that can prevent potential students from pursuing four-year degrees. With the help of higher education researchers, educators and students across the continent, the film shows the personal, professional and societal effects of higher education in the 21st century.

“We aim to show students the ways that they can maximize their college experience in order to make the most of it,” Natalie Deford, chief editor, said. “People feel pressure to go to a big prestigious four year institution in order to begin a career, but the truth is that’s not the only possible path for success and happiness – and if you decide to go, it’s way more than just to get a job! It’s to make you a lifelong learner who is happy, healthy and engaged with the world around you.”

The documentary team travelled to 15 locations in 19 days, including New York City, Chicago, Cambridge, New Orleans, Indiana, Los Angeles and Canada. To get varied perspectives on higher education and its value, the team interviewed high school students, college students, teachers, professors, a chef, researchers, economists, philosophers, the US Department of Education and a famous Canadian astronaut.

The student production team, which began research in Fall 2014, consists of: Natalie DeFord and Evan Heringer, senior communication majors; Jasper Sortun, senior art and design major; and Grace Takehara, senior business major.

These Four Years will premiere in the Microsoft Auditorium at the Seattle Public Library, located at 1000 4th Ave. Seattle, WA 98104. An on-campus premiere will be held on Thursday, April 28 as part of the SOAC Focus Series on Storytelling.

For more information, please visit the These Four Years website at ( RSVPs for the event can be submitted to