Professor Andrew Wilson is breathing different life into the Video Magazine and Video Workshop II classes for Castleton University students.
For the first time, students will be taking over “Access,” a popular PEGTV show. Under Wilson as the show’s executive producer, students will be responsible for scripting, shooting and editing uplifting stories around Rutland County.
When PEGTV Executive Director Tom Leypoldt approached Wilson about producing “Access” with Castleton students, he jumped at the opportunity to embrace locally focused content.
In years past, students were required to submit written news stories for studio assignments in addition to out-of-studio segments around campus. After many national news submissions, Wilson had an epiphany.
“I’m watching these news stories go and it just sort of dawned on me; Who are we at Castleton Video Magazine to report on how the Pope feels about gay marriage? Why are we making this news program when we got all this stuff around us?”
Students were then encouraged to focus their stories around Castleton or Rutland County and the partnership with PEGTV is creating a much larger audience to view students’ hard work.
Current students are excited about the revamping of the class.
John Everett, a senior who has taken a class with Wilson before and after the PEGTV relationship, loves the change.
“It is a lot more exciting. There’s a lot more pressure, but there’s a lot more value to the work that we’re doing,” he said.
Everett is eager to see their work reach a broader audience and finds motivation with the challenge.
“Now we have the opportunity to produce really good work and it actually represents the community, not just Castleton as a whole. Representing Rutland really takes us out of just our small world and makes our job just that much more fun,” he said.
Another student, Madeleine Kopischke, who previously took Video Workshop II with former CU professor Robert Gershon, echoes the same thrill about Wilson shaking up the curriculum for Video Magazine.
In the new format, the class is required to break into small groups of students where responsibilities are shared by all to create a certain number of segments. Kopischke believes this provides a great opportunity for students to work outside their comfort zone and sharpen new video skills.
“When you do the same thing over and over again you don’t really learn anything new and here sometimes I edit, sometimes I do B-roll, so you maybe learn something else,” she claims.
Like Everett, Kopischke likes the thought of the show expanding outside of the university viewers. Though Video Magazine in years past had aired on PEGTV, that had discontinued recently.
“That’s really exciting to know that maybe more than 10 people are watching it, what we are doing,” she said.
Video Magazine was first brought to fruition in 1977 by Gershon, but he emphasizes the idea behind it was driven by a former student, Marquis Walsh.
While they both acknowledged the benefits of working with the local public access station, they both expressed concerns. Before retiring, Gershon brought in a news desk formerly used by WCAX and said he was a little disappointed it was no longer being used.
“This is really kind of the only chance in the curriculum, as it as it was when I was teaching, the only part of the curriculum in which students got a chance to sit behind the news desk and do something and be seen by you know, real people out there,” he said.
While Professor Wilson has made a point of including some studio time into Video Workshop 1, Gershon spent more curriculum time focusing on the studio equipment since he viewed them as valuable learning tools.
Walsh, while excited about the concept, brings up the other concern about the travel expected from students to drive around Rutland County.
“The only thing I could see is students who had transportation issues… Before you just walked across campus,” he said.
PEGTV Channel 20 Coordinator Bryn Doan excitedly shared her perspective from inside the station about forming a professional symbiotic relationship with students.
“We’re just kind of really excited about that one, we’re going to get “Access” back … and for a second aspect of it we’re very excited that we get to not only involve the community but also involve the college and help with your guys’ real-world training and getting into the field in the profession,” she said.
With the production change of “Access,” Doan anticipates a creative perspective shift with younger contributors.
“I think for sure we’re definitely going to get a new perspective and more of a modern and artistic feel to it,” she states.
Video Magazine and Video Workshop II students are still producing the first episode of “Rutland County Focus,” which should air in the near future.