For those of you wondering, creating the live broadcast for Asbury University's 11th annual Highbridge Film Festival was my independent study this semester. I put in over 120 hours into this project. Here is a small taste of some of the things we created for it . . .
This project, being one of the most involved in terms of scope and intense as far as stakes, has arguably been the best production I have ever worked on. That being said, it was full of mishaps; however, those were some of our greatest teachers. I would like to begin this reflection by underlining the fact that I worked with the highest quality of individuals on this project and it would not have been possible without each of them.
Through this experience, I gained diplomacy—I thought I had a significant amount. Between working with my Independent Study partners, our crew, the Special Events class, Asbury faculty, and our viewers, we encountered many different perspectives, opinions, and conditions, which we had to find a way to reconcile and implement. There were times when we had to sacrifice elements we were passionate about to accommodate others. This is a reality we will encounter in the real world, so we justified the frustration and attempted to present ourselves as approachable, professional, and accommodating as possible while also demanding a certain standard of excellence from those we were interfacing with.
As the director of the show, I learned to trust my producer. I am used to producing events. I am also used to directing events where producers are not prepared and thus having to step into that role as well. Working closely with Vada throughout pre-production assured me she knew her material completely and wanted the show to succeed as much (if not more) than I did. Throughout the broadcast, if I was curious where to go, or had any doubt for any fraction of a second due to a change in the schedule, or a difference of time, she had a solution or an answer so that I could maintain focus on the flow of the show. It was a freeing feeling to know that my producer was at my same level and would not allow me to fail.
It is normal for Asbury productions to have a bit of a team mentality that isn’t common in crews outside. The idea is everyone does a little bit of everything. While this can be conducive to learning, it makes for a lot of stress as a director/producer as you’re wondering if everything will be patched properly. Often the director/producer ends up fixing equipment on the fly in order to get the production going. With Chase as our Engineer in Charge, that pressing worry was completely removed from our radar. He interfaced with us as to our creative goals for each segment of the broadcast and came up with swift, economical solutions to be able to bring the scope of our vision and allow it to meet our budgeted resources. Knowing Chase was there to organize build, strike, and any other issue we may have encountered allowed Vada and I to focus completely on aesthetics and create a beautiful, coherent, and relevant show.
As far as rolling with issues that one encounters with live production, working extensively with the flypack prepared me for that. My actual role as producer/director was not a challenge in and of itself. However, the amplified scope of the entirety of the production did intensify every element of the experience. That pressure, knowing people were watching and that we were attempting something larger than most students, was exciting, empowering, and determining. I believe we used that knowledge to push past any hesitation we may have otherwise had.
The most rewarding part of the experience was reading the responses on social media. So many friends, family members, and alumni were ecstatic to see this year’s film festival. Their encouragement to the broadcast was lovely and their live tweets regarding the festival were fun as we engaged culture to the next level.
I’m so glad we’ve decided to make the live broadcast of Highbridge a priority. I think it strengthens the platform Asbury students have to dream, create, and inspire. It offers a bigger cause for students to pursue excellence in their craft as their stories spread further into the world. I hope that in the future, students will be able to have a budget due to sponsors wanting to support the festival and the broadcast so that they can further expand the quality and reach of this fantastic project.
I am so grateful to everyone who took a chance on us and allowed us the freedom to fully explore what we thought the show could be. That responsibility is what made this project the most memorable and impactful for me as an individual pursuing to impact the world through media.