Fire department video ignites student enthusiasm

Shooting from the rooftop of a high-rise hotel and on high-speed rescue boats in the Niagara gorge, surrounded by the intense action of fire crews and – you guessed it – fires in progress, may not be what comes to mind as a standard corporate video, never mind a typical learning experience.

That’s exactly what an adventurous crew of third-year Broadcasting students took on however, in professor Bill Boehlen’s class. Every fall term, Boehlen’s students team up into small groups to create corporate videos.

“Our goal is to get our students into the community by doing corporate videos for organizations that couldn’t otherwise afford them, while giving our students real-world experience,” says Boehlen.

The prospect of creating the video for the Niagara Falls Fire Department sparked the interest of group of four core students including Storme Garwood, Heather Farrer, Kindra LaPier, and Amber Vescio. They received extra help from other students along the way, including camera operators Austin Munday, Mike Roi and Max Coleman.

Students worked on the informational recruitment video for more than three months starting September. The followed the same formal, professional structure as any bona fide production crew, with a director, producer, camera operators, audio and editing. Students were also responsible for everything from the initial first meeting with clients, proposal creation, and re-shoots, to details such as equipment forms, location maps and passes to access editing suites.  

Director Storme Garwood notes how that the corporate video experience was unlike anything she had imagined it would be, and much different than any other directing positions she took on as a student.

“You work directly with clients and with that come a specific responsibility,” she says.

She enjoyed working with the firefighters and the nature of the exciting shoot.

“Personally, what I found rewarding about this project was the opportunity to really push myself and try new things,” she says.

Of course, new experiences come with challenges which Garwood embraces as valuable learning opportunities.

“With me, the biggest challenge was having an idea in my head of the shots I wanted and how the shoot was going to go, and showing up to the shoot, realizing that most of what I wanted was not doable or safe,” she says. “You really to think of your feet and realize that you may not be able to do everything you initially wanted but you still have to come out with a good product.”

Kindra LaPier, who worked as a camera operator, also values the experience she gained through this opportunity.

“Shooting off the top of the Marriott is a whole new level, whether you’re in College or not,” she says. “It was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”

For LaPier, the unpredictable nature of the shoots  forced her out of her comfort zone, leading her to improve her skill set. 

“It was the best skill-honing experience that I could have gotten,” she says.

Prior to shooting the corporate videos, Boehlen’s students did in-studio work and an additional Inside Niagara feature beyond what was required in their second-year. Encouraging his students to continue to push it to the next level is a key part of the process, he says.

“The opportunities given in this project increases their skill level with every shoot,” he says. “It’s all about experiential, hands-on learning.”  

The video is about 10 minutes long.



Share this article