- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 14 October 2015
- Written by AMANDA GLATZ | ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR AND NASH WEINER | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
University students have gained real world experience through the Department of Communication’s Production Services, a student-run production crew that assists in the filming of outsourced projects such as WJLP’s Another Thing with Larry Mendte, the recipient of a 2015 Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing.
Students with a foundational understanding of filming and audio techniques are offered the opportunity to work with the organization’s director, Erin Fleming, who established Production Services in 2012. Fleming noticed an influx of non-profit organizations contacting the University about using the Monty Television Film Center and Television Studio, and developed a model that would be mutually beneficial to clients and students. Some of these non-profit partners have included EarthShare and HABcore, which help to raise awareness for local environmental organizations and house-building projects.
In providing clients with access to Plangere’s studio and equipment, students are granted an outlet for practical application of the techniques they are learning in class under the mentorship of an industry professional. Crew positions include camera and audio operation, technical directing, teleprompter control, and much more, and the result is a final product that gains exposure and can be included on a student’s production reel.
Julian Garcia, a sophomore communication student, noted that Production Services has helped him prepare for a future career in making movies. “[...] I’ve learned more than I could ever hope to learn about the process behind the science and the art of production,” Garcia said. “There are technical things to know that are fleshed out from what we learn in class—proper framing, different types of lights, shading cameras—and then there’s the artistic aspect. The professionals that work closely with us use all those applications and more, and then force us to apply them in more creative ways.”
Recently, Production Services has partnered with PMCM TV, a production team that broadcasts on Me-TV from Delaware to the New York metropolitan area. PMCM shoots two shows bi-weekly at Plangere’s studio: Another Thing, which focuses more on national issues, and Jersey Matters, which uses a local approach and features stories about the shore.
Choosing the University to record the shows was an easy decision for PMCM, according to Joan Slowey Dellett, Production Manager at the network and a producer on both shows. Having previously recorded in Delaware and being faced with the challenge of converting to high definition, Dellett chose instead to shoot at Plangere’s studio, which Fleming explained would not require converting.
“Monmouth has an incredible facility, and as we learned an incredible crew of students willing to help us,” said Dellett. She also stated that Production Services has been a learning experience through which students can understand not only what to do, but why to do it.
Dellett and the other industry professionals that work with Production Services have accumulated years of experience in the field. John Cappuccino, who serves as director and engineer of the shows, has been in the business for 30 years and has worked presidential debates and live sports events including four Olympic games and a World Cup. While this wide range of experience can create a gap of knowledge between the students and professionals, Cappuccino noted that the students always do the right thing. “When [students] don’t know something, [they] ask. And we are more than happy to share and it is just a great team,” he said.
Andrew Cifelli, who is currently filling in as the Director of Photography, is another industry professional that has done freelance work in the field for over 20 years. Cifelli explained that this model works well because students are circulated throughout different crew positions and get exposure to unique areas of production. “It takes time to build confidence but still be able to have fun,” Cifelli said, “but these students [really enjoy the work] and that’s the way it should be.”
The student crew of the shows also have a wide array of professional backgrounds. On a normal day there are six students that are hired to crew the shows, some of which have worked for big media channels such as VH1, Fox and ABC, while others draw on experience from their classes.
Nick Carlascio, a sophomore member of Production Services, expanded upon what it was like to work with the professionals such as Cappuccino and Cifelli. “They don’t get angry if we do something wrong. They know we are just college students learning and trying to get experience,” Carlascio said.
Chris Chinn, another member of Production Services majoring in communication, expressed that working on an Emmy-winning production has exceeded his expectations. “It is a humbling experience being able to work alongside those who have won an Emmy before,” Chinn said. “I have been an executive producer for the past two and a half years for HawkTV, so it’s nice to be able to take a step back and learn from someone else.”
Along with producing segments for PMCM, Production Services works with the University’s Polling Institute to create weekly videos leading up to the 2016 election. Patrick Murray, the Institute’s director, has had a positive experience working with the production crew. “The Polling Institute tries to provide a range of opportunities for student engagement in social science research,” Murray explained. “By working with Production Services on our weekly video series, we can offer real-world experience in another field. The students working with Fleming have produced crisp, visually interesting videos on a tight time schedule. We’ve been very happy with the results.”
Fleming and the employees of Production Services have worked hard to develop a system that both benefits the clients and provides the students an authentic field experience. “[The students are] learning what it’s like to be in front of the camera as well as behind it. They light for shows and shade cameras… something that they [wouldn’t have time for] in a classroom setting,” Fleming said. “Clients come from all walks of life, so students are also learning facts about social issues, politics, and subject matter above and beyond just production.”
Fleming also noted that Production Services helps to create a cohesion among different sectors of the University, as the student crew partners with varied departments like Psychological Services and the Center for the Arts. The organization is currently working on a documentary about a sculptor that they are hoping to have screened in Pollak Theater this spring.
“Working with the students is the most rewarding aspect,” Fleming said of Production Services. “Watching them grow throughout the process has been tremendous. [...] The enthusiasm the students bring to the table actually helps to bring the enthusiasm out in the industry people. Sometimes when [the industry professionals] are doing [the same thing] week after week, year after year, they start to get bummed out a little bit and I think the students allow them to get excited again about something,” Fleming said.
Production Services’ award-winning work on Another Thing airs Saturdays at 5:30 p.m., while Jersey Matters broadcasts Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. To view previous broadcasting clips or to find your local channel, visit www.wjlp3.com.
PHOTO COURTESY of Jermaine High