The University of Cincinnati Production Master Class premiered its documentary series Expedition Alaska at the Esquire Theatre on Wednesday, April 27 at 7:30pm. The Production Master Class is a collaborative, experiential learning initiative that involves students, faculty and alumni from the Electronic Media Division at CCM, the School of Design at DAAP, and the Communication Department at A&S. The event was sponsored and supported by the University of Cincinnati Office of the President, the UC Forward Initiative, the Center for Film and Media Studies, the Electronic Media Division and the UC Alumni Association. Admission was free and open to the general public.
Since its inception in 2012, the PMC has provided a transformative “hands-on” experience for over one hundred students from nine different academic programs at UC, taking them out of the classroom to connect with nationally recognized professionals from the film and television industry in the production of a documentary film series for national broadcast. "The idea was to totally re-invent the college classroom," notes UC President Santa Ono, "focusing interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students on real world projects."
In the summer of 2015, seven UC students traveled to Alaska to work with two UC Professors and a cadre of media professionals in the production of Expedition Alaska. A qualifying race for the Adventure Racing World Series, Expedition Alaska focuses on four person teams, comprised of the world’s best endurance athletes, as they navigate by map and compass through the pristine wilderness of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. It features stunning scenery of ocean kayaking, whitewater rafting, glacier trekking, rock climbing and mountain biking across the beautiful terrain of this remote setting.
Background on the Production Master Class
The PMC is an interdisciplinary collaborative at the University of Cincinnati. It involves CCM Professors Kevin Burke and Lorin Parker, DAAP Professor Yoshiko Burke, and UC Alumnus and Emmy award-winning producer, Brian J. Leitten. The PMC initiative was originally made possible by a grant from the UC Forward Collaborative that supports experiential learning and is part of the UC Academic Master Plan. In 2015, the PMC received additional support from the Office of the President and the Center for Film and Media Studies at UC, and receives external sponsorship by Switch Sunglasses. The PMC is offered as a class through the Electronic Media Division (CCM) and School of Design (DAAP); both programs provide the facilities and staff support.
During the production, students take on the roles of supervising producers, story producers, editors, scriptwriters, music supervisors and narrators. Electronic Media Professor Kevin Burke and Leitten serve as Executive Producers on the documentary, advising and managing the project while providing professional guidance and feedback during all phases of the documentary's development. Leitten joins Professor Burke for each class session via video conferencing from New York, where he serves as Director of Production at VEVO. Communication Design Professor Yoshiko Burke, supervises her students in the creation of all motion and graphic design content and Electronic Media Professor Lorin Parker provides guidance and expertise to his students during the audio mix and sound design for the documentary. At each stage of the project, the students are held to the standards and expectations of professionals in the discipline, providing them with invaluable industry experience.
From 2012-15, the Production Master Class produced the Gold Rush Expedition Race documentary series, focusing on a grueling 275-mile adventure race through the California wilderness. All three 90-minute films were produced to document that race. The series found a national broadcast distributor in NBC’s Universal Sports Network. The 2013 Gold Rush Expedition Race documentary was nominated by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for an Ohio Valley Regional Emmy Award in the professional category of Best Documentary, and the student design team from the 2013 Gold Rush Expedition Race was recognized with a Silver Award at the prestigious Graphis New Talent Annual 2015, an international design student competition. Earlier this year, a short behind the scenes documentary about the production of the Exhibition Alaska Race was selected as an official nominee by the New York City Drone Film Festival, where it premiered in March 2016, and in the U.S. Drone Festival, where it was screened on April 30.