Jenna Pittaway films an interview in Tel Aviv.
Photo Courtesy of Ashley Velez

Travelogue: Professor and grad students documented trip to Israel

Over the summer, USC Annenberg professor Dan Birman and alumnae Jenna Pittaway and Ashley Velez went on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Israel.

The 8-day excursion was organized by the backStorygroup, a non-profit organization that wants to foster a new perception of Israel by introducing American content producers to Israel’s unique culture.

Birman, a notable documentarian, was invited on the organization’s inaugural trip and was asked to bring students along. Pittaway (M.A. Journalism ’15) and Velez (M.A. Journalism ’15) were the obvious choice because they were the supervising producers — the “star players” — for USC Annenberg’s documentary magazine Impact, Birman said.

The only condition of their coming on the trip: document it.

Pittaway said she was excited to work with Velez again because they have “very complementary skills,” but the nature of the trip meant they’d both have to do everything.

“It was a really good test of our skills and everything that we learned at [USC Annenberg]. We both shot. We both edited. We both interviewed,” Pittaway added.

Starting in Tel Aviv, the group travelled throughout the country by bus. They stopped at places such as Golan Heights, Jerusalem, and the Dead Sea.

“It was such a whirlwind,” Pittaway said.