Sioux Falls student creates documentary on the pandemic’s impact on the arts


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The pandemic has been tough on many industries, but the arts have been hit especially hard over the past year, especially those who perform.  It’s a topic one Sioux Falls high school student is hoping to bring to the national spotlight through a nationwide competition.

“The arts are an important part of society and you don’t realize how much until they get taken away from you,” Sean Baker said. 

Sean Baker, 16, has seen firsthand how difficult this past year has been for many artists and performers.

“To me personally, the arts are a big part of my life, my dad is a musician,” Baker said. 

“Normally I spend a lot of time in schools throughout the Midwest and put on assembly programs,” Phil Baker said. 

It’s been a full time living for Phil Baker for more than 30 years, but the pandemic quickly changed that.

“I had more than 100 gigs cancel in the last year, it’s a complete, total loss for the year,” Phil Baker said. 

“Without having live audiences, artists have been struggling to hang on,” Sean Baker said in his documentary. 

This January, Sean decided to use his art of filmmaking, to help bring the issue to the national spotlight.

“It’s a national competition you submit your video to it,” Sean said. “Basically, they give you the topic, ‘What do you want the new congress and president to address in 2021?'”

Sean created this documentary for the C-Span Student Cam competition, showcasing Several Sioux Falls artists and performers.

“The local ones were all friends because my dad is a musician, we had a large community of musicians that we knew,” Sean said. 

“You can ask anybody what would their life be like without arts?” One performer said in Sean’s documentary. 

“The arts, when viewed through the lens of importance in society, it’s not like it’s an essential service, but these people are humans, they are probably one of the most affected by the pandemic. That’s why if I can become a voice through my documentary for this issue, I would love to take on this challenge,” Sean said. 

Sean is using his passion for filmmaking to help others see the impact the pandemic is having on artists all over the country.

“Artist and creative workers are some of the most severely affected by the pandemic,” Randy Cohen said in the documentary. 

His documentary includes a personal interview with one of the nation’s leading arts experts.

“I interviewed Randy Cohen from Americans for the Arts, one of the biggest positions in the country for the arts in America, that’s a big deal for me,” Sean said. 

An interview that helps drive home the focus of his documentary.

“I didn’t realize how big of an issue it was until I started getting into it,” Sean said. 

“He did a fantastic job, he has a way of telling a story and finds the right quotes to use and is really good with images, technically he is fantastic,” Phil Baker said. 

Sean’s filmmaking passion began when he was just eight years old; at 16, he’s now running his own company, Sean’s Films

“I’ve done Subaru, lots of businesses, local nonprofits,” Sean said. 

He hopes to continue growing his passion in the future at film school and he’s already tracking his improvement from the last time he entered the C-Span Student Cam competition. 

“In sixth grade me and two other boys won an honorable mention for the same competition and it was a terrible video,” Sean said. 

Now he’s proud of the polished work he was able to produce for this arts documentary.

“Three days of interviews and probably a week of editing,” Sean said. 

Work that’s well worth it to help his message resonate with a national audience.

“I like just being able to touch the viewer and let them see through my eyes for a couple minutes,” Sean said. 

Judging for the C-span student contest is still underway. You can watch Sean’s full film here

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