The School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s advanced video production class, producing television sports,” creates a new idea every year for a 30-minute pilot sports program. The students of JMC 114 usually spend the first week of class coming up with new ideas.
“Longer format video is a very different way of story-telling,” said Todd Evans, professor of the 2010 class that made “Beyond the Blue Line.”
Longer format video is about one and a half minutes to three minutes long, such as something you might see in a newscast. The 2010 class decided to tell a story about hockey. The team followed players from the Des Moines Buccaneers, which is a United States Hockey League team that recruits high school players to play for a year. The players attend Valley High School in West Des Moines.
Production started with the class videotaping the whole team around a table. The students picked out six players who “seemed kind of interesting” and “weren’t afraid to talk.” Then the class narrowed the group down to four players who they were going to film for 10 weeks on the ice and off.
All of the players live away from home with a billet family, a family that hosts young hockey players much like foreign exchange students. The players have academic responsibilities while they pursue dreams of playing professional hockey.
A production team followed each of the four individual players. There was a line producer for each group who was in charge of shooting, interviewing and editing.
Alumna Rebecca Altenhofen’s job as executive line producer was to oversee each team. There was a technical crew for each player as well. The technical crews consisted of shooters, camera operators, writers and editors. Lauren Staller was the head editor. Crews also included three line producers: senior Maggie Sutton along with alumnae Rachel Yancey and Eamonn Cogan.
“[They were] the most unique group of students I’ve ever had, and I’ve been teaching for 30 years,” Evans said. “It was just something about the way they all jelled.”
Ironically, none of the six students were big hockey fans, but the video was so intriguing and had much more depth to it than just hockey. To watch “Beyond the Blue Line” go to this link: http://vimeo.com/17343161.
Evans believes that the way the group interacted with each other and committed to the project is how the class won four prestigious awards. The documentary won the Telly Award for Student Production, the Communicator Award of Excellence for sports programs, the Communicator Award of Excellence for student programs and first place in long form production from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Student Television Awards.
“They really made it (the documentary) their own,” Evans said.
“Beyond the Blue Line” is also eligible for the Iowa College Media Association awards. Evans will continue to put the program up for honors as long as it’s still eligible.
The production was more about the players and how passionate they are for hockey rather than the sport itself. It took a lot of time to create something that won four awards and Evans was there to make sure that everyone kept focusing on the end result. Drake video production assistant James McNab was a second resource for the students to use when they weren’t sure about something. They referred to him as their “go-to guy.”
Currently, Staller is in Hollywood getting her first editing credit for a major production. Altenhofen is getting ready to move out there, too. Yancey is working for a production company west of Des Moines, producing and editing programs. Cogan is in film school. Sutton is in her senior year as a radio-television major.
To view the video the class made visit: http://vimeo.com/17343161