Project Overview

GUT-C (Give Us the Camera) is a mentoring initiative for underrepresented students in the media arts field that addresses inequality at the student level through community building, technical workshops, and professional development opportunities. In the 2022-2023 academic year, as a DIY grassroots initiative, GUT-C hosted a series of well attended workshops, skill shares, and community building events. The Me Too movement made clear how difficult working in the media industry is for women, LGBTQ individuals, and BIPOC folks and GUT-C has set out to in part address this inequality.

We are requesting support from the ASSET fund that would allow us to expand our programming, grow our community, and increase our positive impact on student experience. 

Project Purpose

In the past decade representation in movies and tv has drastically improved as people of color, women, and LGBTQ individuals have more and more complex leading roles. However, behind the camera, women, queer people, people of color, and trans folx are underrepresented in all creative decision making positions. This discrepancy becomes even more stark when you look at technical positions such as a camera operator, lighting designer, lead editor, and director of photography. This systemic issue is mirrored in higher education. 

GUT-C would take advantage of the ASSET process as a way to develop our mutual aid and mentorship model. GUT-C would use the opportunity to engage in dialogue with other successful initiatives on campus to understand how they were successful or where they came short in supporting diverse people in STEM. 

Stakeholders + Needs 

GUT-C is an inclusive initiative, however our work is geared towards students who are underrepresented in the media arts – queer/BIPOC/trans/LGBTQ/ non-binary/ and women students. In the Fall of 2022 we hosted two listening sessions with undergraduates from CINE, CMCI, ARTH, DANCE, and ATLAS. A group of trans, queer, women-identifying, and BIPOC students engaged in dialogue about the hardships they faced in the University. We found that underrepresented media artists at CU Boulder suffer from a lack of belonging, under-confidence in their abilities, and alienation. As our society becomes more and more media based, we believe that diversifying who gets to tell stories will make our society safer and more compassionate to all people. 

We identified two areas where students could be supported:

  1. Under-confidence in Technical Skills: The Media Arts field is a tech-dependent field that mirrors STEM in many ways. We found that due to economic inequality some students had less access to cameras and computers throughout their entire lives. Students therefore reported a feeling that they had started behind their heterosexual white male counterparts in technical knowledge.
  2. Alienation – Students reported a sense of loneliness and alienation which had a material effect on their success in the University . Students with minoritized identities mentioned how making films and media arts projects requires collaboration and assistance from their fellow students, which they found hard to find in white male dominated spaces.

Intended Impact

Imagine you are a freshman media arts student interested in photography, you are from a minority background and feel alienated at the University, unaware of where you fit in. You meet GUT-C at a student fair in your first week and are invited  into the community. You show your photographs in a student curated art show, where you gain confidence. You attend the GUT-C prom that Fall and meet a Dance student who wants to be a model on your next photography shoot, and a student who loves to set up lights. You might feel under confident in how to edit your photographs and so you would attend a workshop led by a local industry professional where you learn a new computer program. You hit it off with this professional and get an internship for the summer at their photography company. You attend a GUT-C speaker series and are inspired by the films of indigenous filmmaker Razelle Benally, you start making a documentary about your own heritage. 

GUT-C was initially started by Professor Laura Conway and undergraduate CINE student Charlie McCain to address the inequities we experience in the classroom and the field. One of core values is mutual aid and empowerment, and so although we have a plan for future programming, we plan on being adaptive to the needs of students, faculty, and staff at the University. Finally through UROP funding we will be able to support two paid undergraduate community leaders every semester who will be key decision makers going forward. 


    • Laura Conway – Assistant Teaching Professor – Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts – Director
  • Charlie McCain  – Undergraduate student, Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts – Undergraduate community organizer
  • Michelle Ellsworth – Distinguished Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance  – Intermedia Outreach 
  • Emilie Upczak – Assistant Teaching Professor, Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts  – Artist Outreach Coordinator
  • Angelica Lawson – Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies Native American and Indigenous Studies  – Head of community outreach

Partners on and off campus:

  • Director – B2 Center for Media, Arts & Performance at the ATLAS institute of technology
  • Brakhage Center
  • Mimesis Documentary Center
  • ATLAS institute of technology
  • Redline Art Gallery
  • Platteforum Denver

Intended Scale

Based on the attendance of our previous workshops, we anticipate next year we will serve:

200 undergraduate students attending workshops and social events

25 – 40 students who are deeply involved, attending workshops, serving as community leaders, leading skill sharing

30 graduate students

20 faculty

We think we can grow these numbers. We would like to expand our programming,offer skill sharing and create more student teaching opportunities to enhance our mission because teaching is a powerful way to learn. In this model, student- led workshops will be accessible to anyone in Arts and Sciences who wants to learn camera and media technology. . Furthermore, we are planning other outreach and teaching opportunities for GUT-C students. This summer GUT-C students will teach a summer camp to under-resourced teenagers in Denver in partnership with Platteforum. 


Funding Request + Intended Use of Funds

We are requesting $61,500 for a three year period. We will use the funds to pay industry professionals to host technical workshops, to purchase necessary equipment for workshop demos and for GUT-C students to check out and use for individual projects, to fund events, to host visits from inspiring industry leaders twice per year, and one student employee. 

Workshop Materials – $15,000 – cameras, software , lights 

Workshop Stipend – 10 technical workshops per year –  $600/workshop x 3 years = $18,000

Funding for events (food and refreshments) – $300/event x 3 years =$9000

Industry Leader (cinematographers/photographers/directors) 2 per year @ $2,500 per guest x 3 years = $7500

Student leader stipend – $4000/year – $12,000

4 Student Organizers – 2 in summer term and 2 in fall term – $6000 (funding already acquired from UROP)

Anticipated Long-term Needs

We are currently housed in the Brakhage Center but we are searching for a dedicated Lab Space in Arts and Sciences. We are looking to Radio 1190 as an example of a dedicated community of students, faculty, and community members who have a measurable impact on student experience via their work in the media arts. After speaking with Radio 1190 volunteers and employees we discovered that having a dedicated safe space on campus is the core of their community. We would have computers, house our gear,  have a small  library and a meeting space.