Scenes from the Expedition Alaska Adventure Race. Photo by UC Production Master Class.

Student Documentary, ‘The Making of Expedition Alaska,’ Accepted into U.S. Drone Film Festival

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A student-produced documentary that chronicles an adventure race through “Alaska’s Playground” was recently accepted into the U.S. Drone Film Festival. The behind-the-scenes documentary, The Making of Expedition Alaska was created by the University of Cincinnati Production Master Class and focuses on the process that went into filming a 350-mile, seven-day adventure race in the Kenai Peninsula.

Students also created a documentary series titled Expedition Alaska which features the grueling race and beautiful Alaskan landscape. Two episodes of the series will premiere at the Esquire Theatre in Clifton from 7:30-9:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 27.

As previously reported, seven UC students traveled to Alaska in the summer of 2015 to work with two UC professors and a cadre of media professionals to film the documentaries. The Making of Expedition Alaska was nominated for Best News/Documentary in the New York City Drone Film Festival earlier this year and was recently accepted into the U.S. Drone Film Festival, where it will be screened April 30.

The UC Production Master Class used drones to film and chronicle the Expedition Alaska Adventure Race through the Kenai Peninsula. Photo provided by the UC Production Master Class.

The UC Production Master Class used drones to film and chronicle the Expedition Alaska Adventure Race through the Kenai Peninsula. Photo provided by the UC Production Master Class.

Featuring the pristine wilderness of the Kenai Peninsula, Expedition Alaska captures stunning scenery of ocean kayaking, whitewater rafting, glacier trekking, rock climbing and mountain biking during the Expedition Alaska Adventure Race — a qualifying race for the Adventure Racing World Series. The race pits four-person teams, comprised of the world’s best endurance athletes, against each other as they navigate by map and compass through the remote and beautiful terrain.

The UC Production Master Class crew gets wet while whitewater rafting during the Expedition Alaska Adventure Race. Photo provided by the UC Production Master Class.

The UC Production Master Class crew gets wet while whitewater rafting during the Expedition Alaska Adventure Race. Photo provided by the UC Production Master Class.

Expedition Alaska‘s premiere at Esquire Theatre is a FREE event and open to the general public. It is sponsored and supported by the UC Office of the President, Center for Film and Media Students, UC Forward Initiative, College-Conservatory of Music’s Electronic Media Division, and UC Alumni Association.

The Production Master Class is a collaborative, experiential learning initiative that involves students, faculty and alumni from CCM’s Electronic Media Division, the College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning’s School of Design and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Communication.

UC students, professors, and a cadre of media professionals traveled to film "Expedition Alaska." Photo provided by the UC Production Master Class.

UC students, professors, and a cadre of media professionals traveled to film “Expedition Alaska.” Photo provided by the UC Production Master Class.

Since its inception in 2012, the PMC has provided a transformative “hands-on” experience for more than 100 students from nine different academic programs at UC, taking them out of the classroom to connect with nationally recognized professionals from the film and television industry.

“The idea was to totally re-invent the college classroom,” notes UC President Santa Ono, “focusing interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students on real world projects.”

NBC’s Universal Sports Network nationally broadcast the 2013 Gold Rush Expedition Race documentary series, produced by the PMC from 2012-15. Focusing on a grueling 275-mile adventure race through the California wilderness, the documentary was nominated by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for an Ohio Valley Regional Emmy Award in the professional category of Best Documentary. Additionally, the student design team was recognized with a Silver Award at the prestigious Graphis New Talent Annual 2015, an international student design competition.

Join us for the FREE premiere of Expedition Alaska at the Esquire Theatre Wednesday, April 27, from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.!

Racers from the Expedition Alaska Adventure Race trek up a glacier in the Kenai Peninsula. Photo provided by the UC Production Master Class.

Racers from the Expedition Alaska Adventure Race trek up a glacier in the Kenai Peninsula. Photo provided by the UC Production Master Class.

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Background on the Production Master Class
The PMC is an interdisciplinary collaboration at the UC. It involves CCM Professors Kevin Burke and Lorin Parker, DAAP Professor Yoshiko Burke and Brian J. Leitten, UC Alumnus and Emmy award-winning producer. The initiative was originally made possible by a grant from the UC Forward Collaborative that supports experiential learning and is part of the UC Academic Master Plan. In 2015, the PMC received additional support from the Office of the President and the Center for Film and Media Studies at UC, and external sponsorship by Switch Sunglasses. The PMC is offered as a class through the Electronic Media Division and School of Design; both programs provide the facilities and staff support.

During the production, students take on the roles of supervising producers, story producers, editors, scriptwriters, music supervisors and narrators. Electronic Media Professor Kevin Burke and Brian Leitten serve as Executive Producers on the documentary, advising and managing the project while providing professional guidance and feedback during all phases of the film’s development. Leitten joins Professor Burke for each class session via video conferencing from New York, where he serves as Director of Production at VEVO. Communication Design Professor Yoshiko Burke supervises students in the creation of all motion and graphic design content, and Electronic Media Professor Lorin Parker provides guidance and expertise to students regarding the audio mix and sound design. At each stage of the project, the students are held to the standards and expectations of professionals in their discipline, providing them with invaluable industry experience.

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A short film produced by UC's innovative Production Master Class is a finalist in the 2016 New York City Drone Film Festival.

Student Produced Film Nominated Alongside Works By National Geographic, NBC News and ‘Good Morning America’ For NYC Drone Film Festival

A short film created in the University of Cincinnati‘s groundbreaking Production Master Class has been selected as an official nominee by the prestigious New York City Drone Film Festival.

The student and alumni produced film shares elite company in the festival’s News/Documentary category, as it is nominated alongside films by Good Morning America, NBC News and National Geographic!

A still from the UC Production Master Class short film, 'The Making of Expedition Alaska.'

A still from the UC Production Master Class short film, ‘The Making of Expedition Alaska.’

Produced by McMicken College graduate Mackenzie Houston (2015), edited by CCM senior Electronic Media major Nelson Mustain and directed by CCM alumnus Brian J. Leitten (BFA E-Media, 2001), the film details a group of UC students’ experiences filming in the Alaskan wilderness in the summer of 2015. Titled The Making of Expedition Alaska, the five-minute short will premiere in New York City this March.

The second annual New York City Drone Film Festival, presented by GE, will feature an interactive discussion panel, guest speakers, screenings of nominated films and an awards ceremony. This unique festival allows for drone cinematographers and storytellers from across the globe to showcase their work to industry professionals and drone cinema community. The #NYCDFF has been featured by Good Morning America, The New York Times, NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, NPR and more. Festival schedule and ticket information can be found at www.nycdronefilmfestival.com.

A still from the UC Production Master Class short film, 'The Making of Expedition Alaska.'

A still from the UC Production Master Class short film, ‘The Making of Expedition Alaska.’

About the UC Production Master Class
The UC Production Master Class involves an interdisciplinary group of students and faculty from the University of Cincinnati who work with nationally recognized television and film professionals to produce digital media content that reaches a national and global audience.

Since 2012, the UC Production Master Class has involved over 90 UC students hailing from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

UC Production Master Class.Developed by CCM Professor Kevin Burke and UC Alumnus and Emmy award-winning producer Brian J. Leitten, the UC Production Master Course was first funded by a three-year grant from the UC Forward Collaborative, an initiative that supports experiential learning and is part of the UC Academic Master Plan. Last year, UC President Santa Ono pledged additional funding, which allowed the production to continue beyond its initial three-year grant period.

The goal was to create a transformative, “hands-on” experience for the students by taking them out of the classroom and into the field to produce the documentary series that could be distributed to a national television audience.

The project’s initial three years focused on the Gold Rush Expedition Race, a grueling 275-mile race through the California wilderness. Three 90-minute films were produced to document that race. All three films have aired nationally on NBC’s Universal Sports Network.

UC’s Production Master Class changed venues from California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range to the pristine wilderness of Alaska this summer to document 350 mile long “Expedition Alaska” adventure race from June 28 to July 5, 2015. A crew of seven UC student worked with media professionals to film the extraordinary sporting event.

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Photography by Kaori Funahashi.

UC President Ono Provides Support for Student-Produced Documentary Series

We are delighted to report that UC President Santa Ono has announced funding support for the interdisciplinary Production Master Class in digital media, which uses experiential learning to create student-produced documentaries. Since the course’s inception with a three-year UC Forward grant in 2012, it has produced three 90-minute documentaries that air nationally on the Universal Sports Network.

Each documentary focuses on the Gold Rush Expedition Race, one of the world’s premier expedition races that feature an international field of 50 elite athletes trekking, mountainbiking, climbing and kayaking along a grueling 275-mile course in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The presidential investment in the UC Production Master Class will allow the production to continue beyond its initial three-year grant period and represents Ono’s ongoing support of interdisciplinary digital media projects and experiential learning at the University of Cincinnati.

You can read the full announcement at uc.edu/news/NR.aspx?id=21328.

You can learn even more about UC’s student-produced Gold Rush Expedition Race film series at ccm.uc.edu/about/villagenews/notations-ovations/student-produced-film-series-airs-on-universal-sports-network.

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Become a CCM Insider: Subscribe to THE VILLAGE NEWS

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Click here to subscribe to THE VILLAGE NEWS.

What’s the best way to keep up with CCM’s remarkable faculty, students, alumni, friends and benefactors? Subscribe to THE VILLAGE NEWS, CCM’s new electronic newsletter.

  • Learn about the CCM student and alumni-led Whiz Kids Music Program, which is making a difference in disadvantaged schools throughout Cincinnati.
  • Watch all 75 current Musical Theatre majors perform CCM alumnus Stephen Flaherty’s (BM, 1982) “On the Wings of a Dream” in tribute to UC alumnus and supporter Otto M. Budig Jr.
  • Find out where CCM’s latest Fulbright grant-recipient will be studying next year.
  • Read what the New York Times had to say about CCM’s string quartet-in-residence, the Ariel Quartet.
  • Get to know CCM’s newest faculty members.

Subscribe to THE VILLAGE NEWS and we will deliver these transformational stories to your inbox throughout the year. If you missed our SUMMER 2014 issue, sign up today and we’ll send you a copy!

Have a story of your own? Share it with us today.

And don’t worry: we will continue to provide you with breaking news through the CCM Blog, too!

Find out more about THE VILLAGE NEWS by visiting ccm.uc.edu/villagenews.

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CCM E-Media Premieres Student-Produced Adventure Race Documentary Film

2013GoldPoster2014CCM’s Division of Electronic Media proudly presents a premiere screening of the documentary film 2013 Gold Rush Expedition Race at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23, in UC’s MainStreet Cinema in the Tangeman University Center. Admission to this screening is free.

The latest in a series of UC student-produced documentaries, this film follows the “Gold Rush Mother Lode” adventure race, which is one of the foremost adventure races in the world. The documentary follows the story of 56 international racers as they run, mountain bike, kayak, orienteer and climb cliffs during a non-stop, grueling week of competition in California.

Originating in CCM E-Media, the Gold Rush Expedition Race documentary series is sponsored by the UC Forward initiative in the Provost’s Office. The 2013 installment was produced by 31 students from seven different academic programs at CCM, UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) and UC’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

In September of 2013, nine students from all three colleges flew to the Sierra Nevada mountains of California to film this documentary with distinguished CCM alumnus Brian J. Leitten (BFA, 2001), a professional film and television producer/director. Upon their return, the larger group began editing the documentary, working closely with Associate Professor Yoshiko Burke and her group of eight designers from the Graphic Communication Design program at DAAP.

CCM alumnus Brian J. Leitten.

CCM alumnus Brian J. Leitten.

About Brian Leitten
Brian J. Leitten is a 2014 recipient of UC’s Jeffrey Hurwitz Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award. An accomplished graduate of CCM E-Media, Leitten began his entertainment career with a five-year stint in the Music and Talent Department at MTV in New York working on music programming, development and events such as the VMAs, New Year’s Eve and the Movie Awards. From there he moved to producing and directing the MTV program MADE, ultimately winning an Emmy for his work. Many other projects followed, including establishing his own production company, Hyperion XIII, in 2011, and later becoming the Director of Productions for Vevo, the world’s leading all-premium music video and entertainment platform. He has also produced for Comedy Central and Fuse TV.

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E-Media Hosts ‘Music in Film and Television’ Panel Presentation on Dec. 7

CCM’s Division of Electronic Media (E-Media) presents a special panel discussion on the use of music in film and television this Friday, in collaboration with UC Forward.

Moderated by CCM Associate Professor of E-Media Kevin Burke, “Music in Film and Television: The Interplay of Image, Sound and Story” begins at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7 in Room 3250 of CCM’s Mary Emery Hall. The panel is free and open to the public!

The discussion’s expert panelists include:

  • Rochelle Holguin, Head of Creative Music Integration for MTV.
  • Jeongwon Joe, PhD, Associate Professor of Musicology at CCM.
  • Brian J. Leitten, documentary filmmaker, Supervising Producer of original content at VEVO.com and an alumnus of CCM E-Media.
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