Behind the Scenes of “In My Room in Quarantine” with Samantha Riley


Photo courtesy of Sam Riley

Samantha Riley recently received an Honorable Mention from the Pennsylvania News Association as a part of the 2021 Student Keystone Media Awards for her excellent quarantine-themed video essay: “In My Room in Quarantine.” To learn more about the creation of this acclaimed short film, we asked Samantha some questions regarding the video’s creation and its inspiration.

What pushed you to make “In My Room in Quarantine”?

It was originally an assignment for Professor Harris’s Creative Nonfiction class. When we were sent home last spring due to the pandemic, I felt like I was losing motivation for schoolwork and all that I did anymore was stay in my room, sit at my desk, and look out my window. I took this project as an opportunity to express how isolated I felt in the given situation, while also trying to find some solace in the comfort of my own space.

How were you hoping that audiences would respond to the video?

Going into it, I’m not sure if I thought much of what other people would have to say about the video. It just was something to do for myself at the time. Considering we’re all going through this pandemic together, I hope that audiences would be able to identify with my experience and find some comfort in the fact that a lot of people were confused, especially when this all began.

Have you produced any videos in the past and would you like to continue doing so in the future?

Yes and maybe. I taught myself how to use Premiere Pro a few years ago for a class project, and since then I’ve jumped on any opportunity to make a video mostly because I enjoy the editing process. I haven’t made anything of expert quality, and while I’d like to continue to make little videos here and there, I’m not sure it’s something that I would do professionally.

Did you create the video completely on your own? What was that process like?

I did! It was such a fun experience. After I wrote the essay portion, I recorded myself reading through it to get a sense of how long the video would be. The weather at that time was very cloudy and overcast, so I checked the forecast throughout the week so I could get as much natural light as possible for filming. 

The night before I decided to film, I laid out my camera, tripod, and cleaned my room. I woke up the next morning at around 6:30 a.m., got dressed, reread my video notes to see which scenes I needed to film, and got to shooting! 

Once I had all my shots, I flopped them into Premiere along with my audio file and got to editing.

What does “In My Room in Quarantine” mean to you looking back on it?

It represents a time in my life when I didn’t know what to do with myself but still had to keep it pushing. While I don’t think I want to relive that particular experience, it gave me a lot of time to think and spend some time with myself while the world felt like it was falling apart.