After months of work and hours of filming, University of Cincinnati students produced a video series that recently won an Emmy at the Ohio Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Mark D’Andrea (BFA E-Media, 2016) won the Emmy as director and videographer of Building a Ballet. He worked on the project as a student with classmates enrolled in the Advanced News Writing and Production course, part of UC’s Digital Media Collaborative (DMC) between CCM, the College of Design Architecture, Art and Planning, the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences and UC Libraries.
Taught by Assistant Professor of E-Media Hagit Limor and Journalism Professor Bob Jonason, the class was created under the DMC umbrella in 2015 to build a bridge between colleges, giving students a hands-on learning experience that goes beyond the classroom. It blends technical and production skills with creative expertise and storytelling.
“They learn to collaborate, they learn from each other, and they learn what it takes to produce professional-quality work,” Jonason said. “We think the class emulates real life. No matter where students land a job, they likely will be working in teams and with colleagues with various skills and from various backgrounds. And they will be held to high standards. This class helps prepare them for that work environment.”
Once completed, student projects are pitched to local media outlets for publication. The “Building a Ballet” videos were featured in Cincinnati Magazine. Previous class projects have been published by WCPO, FOX19 and the Cincinnati Enquirer, according to Limor. Students carry the project from idea to reality setting up interviews, shooting the film and editing it down to the final product. “They are in charge,” she said.
At the beginning of spring semester, students pitched the idea to create a video series focused on CCM’s production of Swan Lake.
How do you build a ballet? What do rehearsals look like?
They answered those questions in four videos composed of cast interviews and raw rehearsal footage.
The series was created by students Brevin Couch, Tyler Dunn, Daniel Honerkamp, Ailish Masterston and Andrew Wilkins under D’Andrea’s “amazing eye,” Limor said.
D’Andrea shot and edited hours of footage featuring interviews with Swan Lake cast members Madison Holschuh, Sam Jones, Kianhna Saneshige and Dance Department chair and Swan Lake co-director Jiang Qi. The student director said his biggest challenge was capturing the emotion of the dancers on film.
“Watching the dancers perform was incredibly powerful, and at first, I didn’t feel like I was doing it justice,” D’Andrea said. “So I asked my teachers, and I kept experimenting and trying new things, really watching the dance and seeing where I needed to be to get it right.”
A recent graduate, D’Andrea is currently working as an assignment editor at FOX19 and has applied to several video production jobs. His dream is to one day make music videos or special skits for Saturday Night Live.
The Advanced News Writing and Production class is designed to give students professional work experience so they can build their resumes before they graduate, Limor said. Each project serves to strengthen their skill sets with hands-on experience.
“When you get out of school, potential employers want you to be as well-rounded as possible,” Limor said. “This is an innovative class that is exactly what the future needs to be for this line of work. Experiential learning is everything when training people for a job.”