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Behind the camera by Nancy Kolsti
Summer 2007   Go back to bios and film clips >>  


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Jami Clayman biography

While growing up in Houston, Jami Clayman says she took her simple manual camera everywhere. She loved the creativity of shooting photos but never thought about having a career using a camera.

Instead, Clayman double majored in English and mass media at Houston Baptist University. As part of her mass media degree, she took a course in television news broadcasting — and discovered she loved the process of telling a story through film. She completed an internship and worked as an assistant news producer at a TV station after graduating in 2003.

But she soon decided that she wanted to show more detail than she could in three- or four-minute segments.

"There are a lot of interesting stories out there, but a lot of them are under the radar in TV news because they're too complicated to tell," she says.

When she entered UNT's documentary film program, Clayman found she had unlimited access to cameras and other equipment to create detailed stories, as well as an environment that encouraged creativity in storytelling.

"It takes time to develop a story in documentary film, but if you have a compelling subject, the film often creates itself," she says.

She is finishing her thesis film, OV-10: The Men, the Plane, the Missions before receiving her M.F.A. this August.

Used by the Marine Corps, the OV-10 — or Bronco — was a multipurpose, light attack dual prop plane. After launching in 1967, the plane saw service during the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm. It was phased out of the Marine Corps in 1995.

Clayman knew she had the subject for her thesis film when she learned that the OV-10 Bronco Association, which is based in Fort Worth, was hoping to restore the decommissioned planes and make them ready to fly again.

Members of the association, many of whom flew the planes, are "excited to have their history preserved in the documentary," Clayman says, adding she has been working on it for almost two years.

"I don't just want to finish it — I want to finish it well," she says.

Since last summer, Clayman has balanced her work for the M.F.A. program with her full-time job as a producer and writer for Simply Beautiful, a 26-episode high definition television show for Veria, a new HD TV station. Clips of the program are available at

She's also worked as a freelance documentary film editor and camera operator.

After she receives her M.F.A. degree, she plans to continue her work on Simply Beautiful and obtain funding to make a documentary on the subject she originally wanted to do for her thesis film — standardized testing in Texas public schools.



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