A Tempe teacher made a film about what she was carrying on the SpaceX flight


All Sian Proctor could carry with her was a SpaceX duffel bag.

So she wanted to tell the story of what she put in that bag when she went into space on September 15, 2021. It was the first all-civilian flight to go into orbit.

Within two hours of returning from SpaceX to California, Proctor — the first African-American woman to pilot a spacecraft — was on a film set for a documentary. It would become the first film produced by Proctor.

Directed by local filmmaker Matty Steinkamp, ​​the film “Unpacking Space” will premiere at the Phoenix Independent Film Festival from February 10-12. There will also be a book signing and poetry performance with Proctor at 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 12 at Strawberry Hedgehog Vegan Boutique, 1501 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix.

“I felt like this is a moment that I have control over, that I can share and document,” Proctor said. “What you’re packing for space and why it’s special for people to take those things is a story that Matty and I didn’t put that together so quickly, but we did. And I am so proud of it.

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The idea started when she picked up her SpaceX bag

Steinkamp had been friends with Proctor for years.

Proctor, scientist and professor, has always loved documentaries. But she had never made one herself.

After picking up her suitcase from SpaceX in California, she had an idea. Why not make a film that documented her as she unpacked her suitcase?

“I knew I couldn’t do it myself,” Proctor said. “So I just messaged (Steinkamp) and said, ‘You want to document this, I’ll be home tomorrow. And he just replied: “Absolutely. Where should I be?’ He saw the value in what I wanted to do. That’s why I contacted him, I knew he would get it.

The film crew got to her apartment before her and began filming her as she started walking down the hall to her apartment door.

The film lasted six days. Three days were spent filming (day one was Proctor unpacking the bag) and three days editing and producing it.

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Every item in the bag mattered to Proctor

The film shows Proctor unpacking his suitcase immediately after arriving home. Throughout the 17-minute film, viewers will see Proctor explain the significance of the objects that traveled here, in addition to insight into Proctor’s experience in space.

“I wanted it to be raw,” Proctor said. “I wanted it to be that experience of opening that suitcase and literally being able to flick through things for the first time. If I had done it later, I would have lost that feeling of excitement, wonder and happiness. to the idea that the mission is over.

Her bag was filled with treasures, Proctor said. She filled four binders with her tokens, objects and mementos. Her father’s wedding ring and her mother’s locket, an autograph for her father signed by Neil Armstrong and blank canvases and art supplies filled the space.

But the objects of his relatives too.

A friend gave Proctor her flight attendant wings. Another, their Omega watch. Jewelry, coins, art and poetry, and trading cards also filled the duffel bag. She even invited people from the community – people she didn’t know – to submit art and poetry for her trip.

Before she left, Proctor invited local artists to submit their work to take with her. Thirty-two works of art and 30 pieces of poetry filled the space in his filing cabinets. She also included a meteorite from Arizona State University and pens from the city of Phoenix to represent the sister cities.

When Proctor returned, she threw a party where she gave away all the items to her friends and family.

“I’ve earned my place as an artist and a poet, and one of the things, in my winning poem, I talk about creating a Jedi space, a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive space for all people. ‘humanity,’ Proctor said. “When I talk about Jedi space, people think of outer space, but my space platform to inspire is the space around you. I found my authentic voice in art and poetry. This film is another extension of that creative expression of my voice and my ability to share it in a unique way.

Details: Phoenix Independent Film Festival, February 10-12. Various locations in downtown Phoenix. Tickets start at $20. indiefilmfest.com/.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] Follow her on Instagram @sofia.krusmark

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