Senior Lila Woodbridge worked with Joan L. Schimke, associate professor of communications, on a documentary short about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire screened at Cinema Village in Manhattan.
Lila Woodbridge learned about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City when she was in middle school, but the communications and psychology double major allowed that she wasn’t especially familiar with the details of the pivotal event in labor history before being called upon to edit a short documentary on the subject.
“I learned a lot while I was working on it,” she said. “And it was one of the first times I’d done remote work with someone and I really enjoyed that. Even though I was an ocean away, I was having an impact back home.”
The documentary, Triangle Fire, was directed by Joan L. Schimke, associate professor of communications, in an effort to raise awareness and funds for a memorial dedicated to the victims of the fire. The short video was given multiple screenings at Cinema Village in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village—blocks from the site of the tragedy—during the Workers Unite! Film Festival in May 2019. The video was commissioned by the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition.
Professor Schimke knew Woodbridge through a video production course she taught. She said she’d recognized the student’s talent and work ethic right away. “My first impression was that she was shy but very enthusiastic and intelligent,” she said, adding, “I was not wrong about that.”
She emailed Woodbridge, who was studying abroad in London, and asked her to work on the project.
“It was amazing to work with Lila,” Professor Schimke said. “She cared deeply for the subject matter as well, which made it easy to work together. I felt that she understood what I was looking for in the edit, and when I needed to make changes, she made them quickly.”
A fire that started a movement
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire is remembered as the deadliest industrial accident in New York City history and one of the most serious in the nation. Close to 150 workers—most of them women and immigrants—were killed in the fire, unable to escape because exit doors had been locked from the outside to keep them from leaving during long shifts in the garment factory.
“It’s not just that these women died, but how they died,” Professor Schimke said. “These women need to be remembered and their families need a sense of closure. It’s a reminder that workplace accidents still happen around the world due to negligence and bad labor laws and that lives are lost unnecessarily.”
Robert Linne, Ph.D., professor in the College of Education and Health Sciences, is the producer of the video. Junior Germaine Jeanty served as the film’s production manager and Jumara Muza ’18 is the sound mixer.
Editing is a passion for Woodbridge, and the Honors College student hopes to forge a career in film.
“I just love it,” she said. “It’s the kind of work you lose yourself in—all of the small, minute details.”
Awarded for public relations
Woodbridge is also refining marketable skills in marketing and publicity. She works with Adelphi’s Web Development and Digital Strategy Division within the Office of Information Technology and produces digital media for the Alive Inside Foundation, a nonprofit serving people with dementia.
On May 8, 2019, Public Relations Professionals of Long Island named her one of the two winners of that year’s scholarship award.
This summer, Woodbridge is also sharpening her skills in an internship for the Washington, D.C.-based Society for History in the Federal Government, where she’s editing an educational video on the structure and systems of the American government.
Hailing from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Woodbridge was looking for a college with a strong filmmaking and production program when she discovered Adelphi, but location was also of the essence.
“I wanted to go to school in New York,” she said. “Adelphi ended up being the perfect mix for me. I got a good scholarship, it was close to the city and I loved the campus.”
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