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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Students in UC's Production Master Class documenting 'Expedition Alaska 2015.'

UC Production Master Class Films 2015 Expedition Alaska Adventure Race

This summer, the University of Cincinnati’s Production Master Class changes venues from California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range to the pristine wilderness of Alaska to document Expedition Alaska 2015, a 350 mile, seven day non-stop adventure race from June 28 to July 5.

A crew of seven UC students is in Alaska now, working with media professionals to develop a documentary film covering this extraordinary sporting event!

A premier qualifying race for the Adventure Racing World Series, Expedition Alaska 2015 features ocean kayaking, whitewater rafting, glacier trekking, rock climbing and mountain biking. Four person teams, comprised of the world’s best endurance athletes, will navigate by map and compass through the stunning scenery of the world’s most remote, famous and beautiful terrain, the Kenai Peninsula.

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 (BFA, 2001), 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. Earlier this 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.

The 2013 Gold Rush Expedition Race documentary film was recently nominated for an Ohio Valley Regional Emmy Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the professional category of Best Documentary – Cultural/Topical. You can learn more about that nomination by visiting http://www.uc.edu/news/NR.aspx?id=21859.

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The 2013 UC Gold Rush team at Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

UC Production Master Class Documentary Film Receives Regional Emmy Nomination

We are happy to report that the University of Cincinnati student-produced 2013 Gold Rush Expedition Race documentary film has been nominated for an Ohio Valley Regional Emmy Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences! The nomination is in the professional category of Best Documentary – Cultural/Topical.

UC Production Master Class.A three-year project of the UC Production Master Class, the Gold Rush Expedition Race documentaries chronicle one of the foremost expedition races in the world. Each 90-minute documentary features an international field of 50 elite athletes tackling a grueling 275-mile course through the California wilderness as they test their mental and physical limits in the toughest competition in North America. All three films have aired nationally on NBC’s Universal Sports Network (you can view upcoming broadcast times here).

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.

The project was conceived by CCM Division of Electronic Media Professor Kevin Burke and professional television director/producer and distinguished CCM alumnus Brian J. Leitten (BFA, 2001), who advise the project and provide professional guidance and feedback to the students during all phases of the documentaries development.

Student teams shoot, edit, script and produce the Gold Rush Expedition Race films on location in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. “Although there is professional mentoring and oversight during the project,” Burke explains, “it is primarily produced and edited by the students, which makes it a unique example of successful experiential learning and interdisciplinary collaboration.”

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. Earlier this year, UC President Santa Ono pledged additional funding, which will allow the production to continue beyond its initial three-year grant period. The presidential investment represents Ono’s ongoing support of interdisciplinary digital media projects and experiential learning at the University of Cincinnati.

“We are delighted with this nomination and are grateful to President Ono, UC Provost Beverly Davenport and the UC Forward Collaborative for their support of yet another successful example of experiential learning at UC,” says Burke.

Burke and Leitten served as Executive Producers on the 2013 Gold Rush Expedition Race, alongside UC students Callie Peters and Ben Proctor.

The 51st Annual Ohio Valley Regional Emmy Awards will be held at the Keeneland Entertainment Center in Lexington, Ky. Winners will be announced on July 25. The Ohio Valley Region includes Cincinnati, Columbus, Louisville, Lexington, most of West Virginia, southern Indiana, southern half of Ohio and northern half of Kentucky. Learn more by visiting http://ohiovalleyemmy.org/awards.

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