Back from Jordan, Film Crew Sets Sights on Second Trip

Apr 20, 2017

A documentary film crew from Springfield has just returned from Jordan, where they spent a week interviewing Syrian refugees. 

Shane Franklin, right, a producer for Carbon Trace Productions, shows refugee children his camera in Jordan.
Credit Shannon Bowers

Shannon Bowers is a lead producer and the main interviewer for Carbon Trace Productions film crew.  She and three others landed in Amman, grabbed some hummus and tabbouli, then went to work filming in refugee clinics run by the Syrian American Medical Society.

“They were treating anything from just, like, your common cold—and mostly it was just your common cold—to even going to hospitals and doing surgery for them. We were actually able to get in on a spinal surgery that we were able to film,” Bowers said.

The documentary they’re working on highlights the aftermath of trauma in children who have lived through war and displacement.

Bowers said one child in particular stood out to her.

“He’s about eight or ten years old. He was walking with his friends to the store. And one of his friends ended up picking up a land mine and threw the land mine. And all of the friends died. And he lost both of his legs and an arm,” Bowers said.

The film crew for Carbon Trace Productions at the airport in Jordan.
Credit Shannon Bowers

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the world is now witnessing the highest number of displaced people on record.

Jordan, a country with a population roughly equal to Missouri’s, is sixth on the list of countries taking in the most refugees, behind the countries of Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Ethiopia.

Bowers said world politics came up in many of her interviews, including refugees’ sentiments about Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad.

“I had no idea how many stories we would come upon of how the Assad regime had scorned just everyday people. People that are in prison for no reason. People that are scared to go back to their homes because they are scared of the Assad regime. You know, we talk a lot here about ISIS and about the rebel fighters. But they talk a lot about Assad,” Bowers said.

The film crew was not able to enter refugee camps on this trip. Leading the documentary film crew is MSU journalism professor Andy Cline. He said the crew plans to return to the region, because they want to tell the in-depth stories of the refugee children.

The film crew for Carbon Trace Productions enjoys a meal of traditional Jordanian food in Amman.
Credit Shannon Bowers

"And we need a [refugee] camp to do it. Because in the urban clinics, it's hard to, 'Oh, let us follow you home and show us how you're living.' In an urban environment, that's just not going to happen. We don't have enough crew to make that happen. In the camp, where it's self-contained, we can make that happen," Cline said.

The film crew arrived in Jordan a few hours before President Donald Trump ordered air strikes on a Syrian air base across the border.

Bowers and Shane Franklin are former news producers for KSMU. Franklin currently volunteers as host of the station's Wednesday Jazz Excursions program.