“Lights, camera, action!” requires planning, scheduling and problem-solving – plus hours of editing before screening. UW-Fox Valley students in Tom Frantz’s Intro to Video and Applied Journalism classes learned the reality of video creation by working with a community client. A total of 10 students created seven videos showcasing the honorees of the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Inc., at the 21st annual Celebrating Volunteers community gala in downtown Appleton in late April.
“The project is really ambitious,” said Frantz, who initiated the collaboration with the nonprofit in 2017 to specifically create student experiences that were “less classroom, more authentic.”
“Some students have done videos before, but the nature of this – high profile event, tight deadline, need for professional quality when you’re just beginning to learn about video production – really means we have to amp up our game,” he said. “While classroom projects can be good learning exercises, they can lack the ‘real world’ elements that are truly helpful to teaching students about the profession. For example, how do you learn how to work with a client?”
Student Andrew Moskal now knows how to navigate client relationships after working closely with Community Foundation Vice President of Communications and Marketing Tammy Williams. He edited two of the seven videos and helped film five.
“I gained experience working for a client and tailoring everything to their needs,” Moskal said. “I had to construct the videos according to their preferences, not just what I thought worked well. By working on the videos from beginning to end, I got to really understand what goes into producing media content.”
Williams said the partnership provides a meaningful opportunity for students to learn about the community and volunteerism while also developing their skills in video storytelling. “The award recipients and event steering committee members are grateful for the time that the students and their instructor, Tom Frantz, commit to this project to help share the inspirational stories of people who give their time to help others.”
The videos played during the gala as each honoree was introduced. To meet the April screening deadline, students interviewed recipients and their nominators, and shot additional material to illustrate the honoree in action and show their impact. Shooting began in February and wrapped in mid-March to ensure time for editing the hour-plus of material for each person down to a unique and interesting two-minute final piece. A large unexpected spring snowstorm affected the schedule, and students worked evenings and weekends to meet their deadline.
Joining the 500 attendees at the large-scale, high-profile gala made for a memorable screening event: “If I’m going to be completely honest, my favorite part of the event was watching the reaction of the audience when they saw the videos,” Moskal said.
“It was really amazing to see how people from all over the community came together to celebrate the volunteers that make the community a better place for everyone,” added Moskal, who credits the class experience with his decision to pursue journalism/advertising/media studies at UW-Milwaukee.
The size of the banquet underscores the large impact of volunteers in the community, an important added educational element for Frantz.
“I heard some very nice things about the videos from people who attended the banquet,” Frantz said. “I was particularly impressed that many of the award recipients sought out our students to express their sincere gratitude for their videos. Everyone likes to be acknowledged for doing good work, but having people seek you out to thank you makes it extra special.”
Written by Monica M. Walk
As of 2018, the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Inc., manages all scholarship funds for the UW-Fox Valley campus: https://www.cffoxvalley.org/scholarship-type/uwfv/