Bombach (Business Administration, ’08) has proven that theory herself. After her first film, a travelogue of her journey in an Airstream trailer to meet people living with few possessions, she was surprised to find she had touched viewers.
“After 23 Feetwas released, people would talk to me and email me, pouring their hearts out about their own experiences,” says Bombach. “It’s those kind of letters from people and those one-on-one conversations that I think about when I need inspiration.”
Inspiration is now leading Bombach to use that powerful tool of film to make a difference in other lives, this time photographers in Afghanistan experimenting with their new-found freedom of the press.
In her upcoming documentary Frame by Frame, Bombach explores the challenges and risks faced by Afghan photographers engaging in a practice that was outlawed under Taliban rule. Today these photographers worry about their futures as American forces pull out of the country.
“I was editing a short video for a non-profit, and they handed me a hard drive of footage with a bunch of reels from Afghanistan,” Bombach says, describing the moment of inspiration that led to Frame by Frame. “Getting to see unedited footage of people walking down the street really shook me and made me question my own perception of Afghanistan.”
Bombach visited Afghanistan shortly after that experience, where she met the photographers to be featured in the film. After returning home, a Kickstarter campaign secured the funds needed for her and a videographer partner to return to shoot the rest of the film. Frame by Frame will be released by Bombach’s own production company, Red Reel, in 2015.
While Bombach finds inspiration for her films in the world around her, she credits her FLC experience with inspiring her success at forging her own career her own way.
“I think Fort Lewis College and the professors that I had there had a big impact on my taking a chance with doing film at all,” she says. “I’d always loved filming as a little kid, but I didn’t think about that going into college. I thought that was something I’d never do, just a dream.”
Then, a hands-on and creative class assignment let her try her hand at applying her dream.
“One of my business professors [Chuck Yoos] challenged us to a project where we could explain something any way we wanted. Once I got into the editing room and starting putting it together, I was really, really proud of what I did. It truly felt like mine more than anything else I’d done, more than a paper or any other assignment,” she says.
“Everyone was just so supportive,” Bombach adds. “I made a video for the assignment, then the professor showed it to the Dean and other professors. After that, other professors started encouraging me to make films for their projects, and that really kind of started it for me. That was massive. It gave me the confidence I needed to give this career a chance.”
And it was a choice that has led Bombach to make a living while also making a meaningful life.
“I don’t know if I do this work to live this life, or if I live this life to do this work,” she laughs. “But I really love it, and it’s given me a great purpose in life. I am thankful for it everyday.”