Film takes up a lot of our lives. Whether we’re watching funny videos on Facebook or procrastinating with Netflix, it’s hard to deny the role that film plays in our day-today activities. But what if you wanted to make your own?
Vassar College Television (VCTV) is the first student-led production group on campus. Established in 2011, the group has created their own original content as well as produced work for other orgs on campus.
Besides having an Executive Board, VCTV is divided into several branches: developers, writers, producers, directors and editors. Each group meets once a week and no experience is necessary to get involved. You aren’t required to attend every meeting either. It can be your first time showing up and you would still have a voice equal to everyone else in the room.
Members can be part of more than one branch as well. If anybody is interested, they can contact President of VCTV Kyle Walters ’17 for specific meeting times.
First-year Helen Magowan shared that she was able to quickly fill a leadership position in VCTV despite being a rookie in the group. She stated, “I directed a music video for Hype last semester. I loved the Hype shoot. It was very high-energy and very fun. There were multiple shoots but they were all pretty short. I think being around the dancers and music was a fun time.” She continued, “VCTV’s goal in any project is to allow each branch to have a role that’s large enough to feel significant.”
VCTV’s production process is particularly unique. Developers discuss content for the project, like the individual episodes in a VCTV web series. Writers formulate scripts based on those ideas and workshop the script. Producers look at the logistical side of the script, determining shooting locations and props that might be needed. Directors will shoot the project with an assembled crew. Editors take what the directors shot and create a final cut. All the projects VCTV takes on can be found on their Youtube channel. Also, at the beginning of the fall, VCTV holds an open casting call for actors. From these auditions, they create a casting portfolio that producers and directors rely on for a project.
Vice President of VCTV Jamie Maher ’17 has been a member of the org since her first year at Vassar, previously serving as the Head of Writers. On her involvement in the org, Maher stated, “I thought I was going to be a science major but one of the primers when thinking about a college was knowing that they had a film department, so I was interested in doing film on the side. Because it’s really difficult for underclassmen, especially freshmen, to get involved in production and they had a writers group, I was like, ‘Yes, this is the place.’ I’ve been in it since the very beginning of freshman year.”
Each semester, VCTV usually picks two or three projects, including the Year Long Project (YLP), a series they film for the academic year. The current YLP is “Vassar After Dark”, which imagines the adventures of students after nightfall. Last year, VCTV had its first YLP, “Snow Globe”, which followed the hijinks of students snowed in on campus.
The group also collaborates on projects with other orgs on campus, doing music videos for Hype and FlyPeople or promos for Vassar Refugee Solidarity. Recently, companies outside of Vassar have also sought out VCTV’s services.
“People from any org can fill out an application of what they want to work on. And our general criterion is that is has to go through some form of pre-production with VCTV and production. They can’t just ask us to film something. We want to actually work on it and help create the idea,” VCTV Head of Directors Tiarra Rogers ’19 said about the org’s inclusive principles for taking on outside work.
VCTV President Kyle Walters ’17 added about the group’s additional projects: “VCTV has a lot of collaboration projects. We do work internally within the organization, where the members come up with ideas on their own. And then we also work with other student groups. So if they want a music video or a promotional video made, they can come to us and we’ll work with them to create that video.”
While VCTV is divided into several branches, at the core of the org is a solid community that shares a passion for film.
Many members are not necessarily film majors either but it’s in that united cinephilia that a VCTV community forms. Besides general body meetings, VCTV has a couple hang-outs where they watch movies, play games and eat pizza. Also, depending on when a project is completed, they hold premiere screenings.
Rogers commented on the unified interests of VCTV’s diverse community: “We’re all warm and open with each other. We have movie nights. We have dinners. I know we’re really trying to foster a community who want to collaborate and not be competitive.”
Walters spoke about the importance VCTV has on campus, “We’re really the only film production group on campus. So if you’re interested in film in any way, television, film, web content, or just learning how to work with a camera, we’re a great resource for that. And also we’re a fun community of people who love film and television.”