BY MADI TORTORA
Washtenaw Community College’s digital media arts faculty have created a way for WCC students and surrounding community members alike to get a behind-the-scenes look into the department – without ever having to step foot on campus.
Garrett Sammons, a part-time faculty member in the Digital Media Arts Department, along with the help from many others, came up with the idea to start a YouTube channel based out of WCC. This channel, called Making Movies, focuses on the details that come with making a great film, and uses WCC students to get that point across.
“The way of the world is going online, going social. Youtube more than ever is becoming, video production in general, is becoming the most ingested form of communication,” Sammons said. “There’s no college in the country that has done this. We’re the first to get a YouTube channel for film production education.”
This channel stars actual WCC students, faculty and equipment, and includes short films to show how certain techniques are used.
A major purpose of the channel is to help other local filmmakers master their craft, and to show people that WCC is a good place to go to further with a career in film, Sammons said.
Making Movies is not the only inspiration for people to attend WCC for film. Students are encouraged to participate in multiple film festivals, including the 48 Hour Film Festival and the Broke Student Film Festival. Many film professors incorporate these opportunities into their curriculum to further help their students compete and succeed.
“What I learned here more than anything was that it’s good to collaborate with other artists, even if you disagree with them and even if you have a lot of differences as far as what you deem to be quality in film,” said Patrick Fifelski, a WCC graduate from Dexter. “Working together with them can create new ideas and new experiences, and they’re really good.”
According to Dan Kier, a fellow faculty member in the Digital Media Arts Department, many schools, including University of Michigan, don’t allow students to use actual equipment until around their junior year.
“I started this program, and I feel like I have now created a monster – a good one though, and it’s great,” Kier said. “WCC is a lot more hands-on than most colleges, and that applies to all of the local colleges around.”
Unlike certain four-year institutions, WCC is creating people who can actually work in the field as opposed to just theorizing about it, Sammons mentioned. Because of this, a lot of the productions created by students compete with, and oftentimes, beat a lot of the productions that four-year institutions produce.
“The video program here is really unique, in that we focus much more on the technical aspect of how to produce films,” Sammons said. “A lot of the four-year institutions around us focus a lot more on theory and critique.”
Although many students out of WCC are preparing for entry level positions, many move on to be a part of something bigger. Certain students of Kier’s have worked with big time networks and magazines, and can potentially work in educational or industrial environments and facilities.
“There is absolutely a demand for people with these skills; there’s a great demand for people who are really good, and those people get into video production,” Kier said. “It’s not something you can take casually. You have to be good at it, or nobody is going to show any interest in you. No mediocrity.”
With the addition of this YouTube channel, new opportunities are provided for both people with budding interest in film and already-involved film students. It allows easy access to WCC’s film/digital media arts program, and portrays both the creative and technical side of filmmaking.
“I enjoy watching the results,” Kier said. “I love seeing how creative students can be. It’s truly amazing.”
Additional reporting by staff writer Ivan Flores