A group of students will make history Saturday, May 7, at commencement as the first graduates from UW-Stout’s video production program.
The students, Devin Leary, Dimitri Luna, Wesley Phillips, Colin Podborny and Claire Taubel, also will leave a parting gift to the community where they earned bachelor’s degrees, a gift that could change lives and unquestionably will serve as an example of the power of video.
They created two videos for Project Hope, Menomonie’s proactive fight against drug abuse and crime, including high incidences of methamphetamine use in Dunn County. The videos are their senior capstone project, which they will discuss Friday, May 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the School of Art and Design Senior Show.
“It will leave an impact on the community if they see it,” said Taubel, the team’s producer. “We treated it in a professional way and were able to make this amazing product that we’re all proud of.”
The Senior Show will feature students discussing and displaying their work throughout the Applied Arts Building and Micheels Hall and also virtually, nearly 120 projects overall from six art and design majors.
As part of the event, a grand opening of the Digital Process Lab will be from 4 to 6 p.m., room 119 of Applied Arts, including major donor and alum Bill Flesch; Noah Norton Portfolio Prize, 5 p.m., room 216 Applied Arts; Best of Design student art show awards, 5:30 p.m., Micheels Hall atrium; and Student Artist-in-Residency awards, 5:45 p.m., Micheels Hall atrium.
Furlong Gallery will feature the Best of Design and Student Artist-in-Residency art exhibits through Saturday, Sept. 10.
Project Hope team effort
The Project Hope video team created a five-minute public service announcement and a 40-minute training video, based on interviews with local officials.
The city’s process for implementing Project Hope began in 2019, and it officially kicked off in 2020. Partners include Dunn County Human Services, the Criminal Justice Collaborating Council, Arbor Place, the Dunn County Partnership for Youth, the Menomonie school district, Stepping Stones and more.
The PSA includes interviews with Police Chief Eric Atkinson, Mayor Randy Knaack, youth services officer Maloree Zassenhaus, and social workers Tracy Erickson and Melissa Duffenbach, along with Tom Sampson and Jennifer Harris of the Machine Shed, a Menomonie fitness facility where those in the program can use the facilities one night a week to help turn around their lives.
"Project Hope is about more than combating methamphetamine and opioid use. It is about providing a healthier future for the youth of the community. It's about connecting those who struggle with substance use and mental health disorders with the appropriate tools to seek treatment and removing potential barriers to their recovery,” said Brenna Jasper, crime prevention specialist with the police department.
“These videos will help us connect with a wider audience to educate the community about what Project Hope is and what it has done so far and could possibly do for them. It will show other communities that there are real, evidence-based strategies that can be used to create a healthier community for everyone.”
The students created a production team to work through the various steps of creating the videos. Along with Taubel, of Necedah, as producer, team member roles were:
- Leary, of Tomah, editor
- Luna, of Menomonie, director of photography
- Phillips, of Stillwater, director
- Podborny, of Fox River Grove, Ill., camera/motion graphics director.
The PSA sends a strong message, Taubel said, to help get the community behind the project and will be used to promote Project Hope to other interested communities and organizations.
The training video has interview segments to help those interested go more in depth about how Project Hope works.
“Hearing their stories in the long form provides a better understanding of what Project Hope does well and shows how it helps the community,” Taubel said.
Jasper said the team “did a fantastic job of creating professional-quality videos, and we could not be happier. They have the potential to impact not just the Menomonie community but others in our area and around the state. That's why we knew it was important that these videos look polished and professional, and the team absolutely came through on that. I am thrilled with the outcome.”
‘Impactful and motivational’
The team worked on the videos for about two months, including writing scripts and interview questions, scheduling and conducting nearly a dozen interviews, finding b-roll — supporting video footage — to help bring the subject to life, editing tape and creating a final product that met with the police department’s approval.
B-roll included city officers working with middle school students in Menomonie. “It was good to see that, even though it’s a hard subject to talk about at such a young age,” Taubel said.
The team created a third video — a wrap-up about their reflections of working on the project — that they will play at the Senior Show along with the PSA.
“It has been an exhausting but very real world project as a client experience for our students,” said Assistant Professor Keif Oss.
Canon USA supplied C300-MKII cameras, cinema zoom lenses and primes for the project.
“We had everything we needed to make this project amazing. It has helped prepare me for the real world,” said Taubel, who has two summer classes to finish before beginning her career.
“It was a great experience for us. The videos are impactful and motivational,” she added.
The video production program and police department worked with UW-Stout’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs on approval of the effort.
The Bachelor of Science program began in 2019 after UW System approval. It trains students to create professional videos to meet the needs of business and industry.