Communication students produce recruitment video in England

When Megan VanDyke ’12 decided to go to England with her documentary production class during Spring Term 2011, she knew she’d enjoy more than just seeing the sights on her first trip abroad.

In fact, VanDyke was so enthralled with the experience that when she returned to campus last fall, she decided to make a promotional video called “Shakespeare in England” for her senior thesis, based on the Hanover class that started back in 1965. 

“I wanted to do something non-traditional,” she said. “I didn’t just want to write a paper. (Doing the video) gave me the opportunity to be creative.”

Despite its longevity, VanDyke believed not enough current students knew about the Shakespeare class. The result is sure to become an effective tool for recruitment, but for VanDyke and the other student-producers — Braden Worrell ’12, Courtney Crutcher ’12, Tyler Blaker ’11 and Susan Parker ’11 — it was what they learned about the Bard’s homeland that was as exciting — if not more so — than the career skills they gained on the trip.

“The one thing that stood out to me was how different television is there,” said VanDyke. “They (the British) have a lot of government funding, so they have a lot of those quirky little films that get through because they don’t have to have a ton of money to get their film on screen.”

Blaker said that while the students went as a class, they functioned as a production team. Each day, during a specific event, one student would serve as producer to assign various roles, such as making sure the camera was in the right spot, setting up lights and running the audio.

“We had a rotation set up so everyone got to do a different job,” he said. “I really enjoyed it, because I felt like you got to get your hands in every aspect of it. You weren’t just assigned one (part) for the entire trip.”

While he enjoyed being a producer the most, the biggest challenge was the time constraint.

“You had just one chance to shoot a specific spot in England. If you missed it, it wasn’t like you could fly back across the ocean and shoot again.”

The work began before the students ever left Hanover. A large part of the process was getting permission from various locales.

“It’s amazing how many rules and regulations (there are) at certain sites,” said VanDyke. It took about 6 months for them to plan where we could shoot.”

According to Instructor of Communication Elizabeth Winters who taught the class, the students found a new appreciation for the field of documentary production, as well as confidence in their skills.

“It gave them the knowledge that they could do it on their own,” she said. “They can now pursue projects with their own creativity and intellectual curiosity.”

Worrell and VanDyke did just that, securing a Richter grant and traveling to Greece in February to create a documentary on the country’s economic crisis. The result was “No Tomorrow for Greece Today,” which along with the Shakespeare video and several others, had its premiere at the Ohio Theatre in Madison, Ind.

“The audience’s reaction was very inspiring and proved to me that I really can do this,” said Worrell. “Getting to educate and entertain people through this medium, it’s what I hope to do with my life.”