Student-produced documentary on sea level rise to premiere on WPBT2

South Florida’s Rising Seas: Impact, a documentary filmed and produced by FIU students, will premiere on June 24, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. on WPBT2.

The documentary is a compilation of stories that were produced by 33 video production students at Florida International University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and initially released as a 10-part web series on WPBT2’s YouTube site.  Parts of these web-series about South Florida’s future environmental challenges related to sea level rise will appear in a half-hour documentary produced and edited by Abel Fernandez, a senior in FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The documentary’s first-person narratives take viewers through the Everglades, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale beach and finally, the Keys, where community leaders describe themselves as “the canary in the coal mine” of sea level rise. Viewers will also hear concerns of engineers, civic leaders, real estate and sustainability professionals and environmental advocates.

“The partnership between FIU and WPBT2 is a unique approach to profiling the many sides of a complex topic such as sea level rise, and serves as a means to get students and younger voices involved in a critical issue that will shape South Florida’s future,” said Max Duke, WPBT2’s vice president of Content and Community Partnerships.

The documentary is the product of a video production course at Florida International University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication led by assistant professor Kate MacMillin.

MacMillin, who is executive producer on the project, said the documentary was the focus of two semesters of classes. In 2014, MacMillin co-produced the award-winning South Florida’s Rising Seas with FIU journalism professor Juliet Pinto. That documentary also aired on WPBT2 and later won an award for Best Short Documentary at DocMiami.

“I took 33 students from my two classes and created a production company,” she said. “These students understood the value of communicating the impacts of sea level rise to their friends and families – and they dove into the research and production as if their lives depended on it. I’ve never seen anything like it. The range of talent and commitment among these students is humbling.”

South Florida’s Rising Seas Impact is related to, a project funded by a grant by the Online News Association. Earlier this spring, released the Sea Level Rise Toolbox, an application to visualize possible effects of rising seas in South Florida, which can be seen at FIU SJMC professors involved in the project include MacMillin, Robert E. Gutsche, Jr., Susan Jacobson, and Juliet Pinto. See more at

These four FIU faculty members have been named the 2015 winners of the Innovative Outreach to Scholastic Journalism, an annual competition sponsored by the Scholastic Journalism Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication for their work with

The documentary will run again on June 28 at 2:30 p.m.