Missouri State University
MJF In Touch
Media, Journalism & Film Department Blog

MJF Web series awarded bronze Telly

A little HelpMissouri State’s media, journalism and film department’s second Web series, “A Little Help,” has received a bronze Telly Award. With nearly 12,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries, approximately 25 percent are chosen as winners of the bronze Telly.

About ‘A Little Help’

“A Little Help” was an interdisciplinary effort across the College of Arts and Letters, from digital film and media productionelectronic arts and graphic design, to journalism, communication, and public relations.

The series follows comedian Ringo who hopes to pursue his dreams in New York City, but his efforts are thwarted by his dysfunctional friends and family, including his pot-smoking parents.

A group of students, led by screenwriting graduate student Kevin Shabel and digital film senior Nich Peltz, wrote the script, while MSU students, faculty and staff joined community actors to comprise the cast. After more than 250 hours of post-production that also involved a team of students, faculty and staff, the series was launched in July 2014.

Other nominations

“A Little Help” also has four nominations from the 2015 LA Web Series Festival, or LAWEBFEST, to be held April 2-5, 2015, in Los Angeles. The series will compete in the following categories:

  • Outstanding Student Series (creator Kevin Shabel / produced Deborah Larson, Cibee Jaime, Nich Peltz)
  • Outstanding Actor – Student Series (William Bixby)
  • Outstanding Actor – Student Series (David Greathouse)
  • Outstanding Theme Song (David Greathouse, composer)[general pool]
Posted in Award Recognition, Digital Film Production, Electronic Arts, Faculty & Staff Accomplishments, Media Production, News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Springfield community conversation about first-generation college students


On Saturday, March 28th, Missouri State University will host a panel discussion about the unique challenges faced by first-generation college students. 

Students who are the first in their family to attend college often lack the essential knowledge and experience that many other college-bound students take for granted. Left to their own devices, first-generation students must discover for themselves how to navigate the puzzling process of applying to college and how to deal with a slew of complex financial issues. Once in college, they experience a much higher dropout rate. While there are no easy answers, the success or failure of first-generation students has major implications for the future of America.

Film screening, panel discussion contributes to conversation

At 8:45 p.m., after the free screening of the award-winning documentary, First Generation, the film’s director, Adam Fenderson, will join Missouri State President Clif Smart, two first-gen MSU freshmen students and Hillcrest High School counselor Lynn Schirk for a panel discussion. With input from the audience, they will discuss the special hurdles faced by first-generation students and explore ways in which our community can work to help these students experience greater success in college.

Photo credit: firstgenerationfilm.com

Nicole Tortoiello writes in the online journal, The Education Trust:

First Generation, through its poignant story telling, conveys a core truth about our K-12 education system and society.  Low-income students, like their more affluent peers, want to go to college, but they need more help to make that dream a reality. But  many of our high schools and communities are failing to provide those supports in any meaningful way.”




Join MSU for this first-generation community conversation

Event details

Date: Saturday, March 28
Time: Film screening at 7 p.m. — Panel discussion, 8:45 to 9:45 p.m.
Location: Plaster Student Union Theater  — 1110 E. Madison Avenue, Springfield, MO
Parking: Available in Lot 24 (access off National Ave, one block south of Grand Street) or Bear Park North parking garage next to Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts — take MSU Shuttle to PSU.
Sponsored by: MSU’s College of Arts and Letters and the Office of the Provost

Posted in Education Issues, Event, Faculty & Staff Accomplishments, Film Series, Master Class, News, Professional Development, Public, Public Affairs | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

EA students win media arts festival awards

BEA-festivalThe BEA 2015 Festival of Media Arts awarded several electronic arts students with first place and honorable mention prizes. Their work will be recognized at BEA’s annual convention in Las Vegas, April 12-15.

First place for website

EA students Derek Parker, Rebekah Gourley, Whitney Meador and Stephanie Martin earned first place in the student interactive multimedia competition for their interactive website for interdisciplinary programs.

Honorable mentions in video

Several earned honorable mention awards in the student video competition, including:

  • Animation/Experimental/Mixed category: Sara Silkwood, Logan Fritts and Max Walling, for “Broken Bones
  • Narrative category: Taylor High, April Core, Josh Pfaff and Nick Dugan, for “Mara

About the festival

The BEA Festival of Media Arts is an international exhibition of award-wining student works chosen in the following competitions: audio, documentary, interactive multimedia, 2-year/small colleges, news, scriptwriting, sports, and video. Winners receive recognition and exhibition of their works during at BEA’s annual convention.

Posted in Award Recognition, Electronic Arts, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Student film is finalist in College Television Awards

maraAnother media, journalism and film production is gaining ground in the student Emmy award market. The short film “Mara” is a finalist in the dramatic film category for the 36th College Television Awards. Submissions undergo a three-round judging process, culminating in a Blue Ribbon panel that awards first, second and third prizes. “Mara” has moved on to the Blue Ribbon panel.

About ‘Mara’

The retro-noir film was a student project that debuted at the 2014 electronic arts student showcase. Set in the dystopian Mara City, the film follows an ex-government soldier on a mission to complete one last job for a mysterious old flame. It was written and directed by Taylor High and produced by April Clore, Wes Walker and Evan Pollock.

Other crew included:

  • Josh Pfaff, director of photography
  • Cara Eckert, production designer
  • Tyler Durham, original score
  • Sam Houston, costume and hair and makeup
  • MSU professors Diana Botsford, Mark Biggs and Colby Jennings, executive producers

Actors included:

  • Brian Anderson
  • Melissa Young
  • Maggie Knoedelseder
  • Jon Herbert
  • Shawn Young
  • Ryan Robinson
  • Teri Austin

About the College Television Awards

The nationwide competition awards more than 65 trophies in 13 different categories. Entries are judged by active Television Academy members. Winners in all categories receive cash awards and a trip to Los Angeles for the Nominee Summit at the Television Academy, where they are exposed to industry professionals and undergo development workshops. Students also become part of the Television Academy Foundation alumni network, which provides access to year-round networking opportunities and events.

Posted in Award Recognition, Electronic Arts, News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

MSU president helps COAL raise awareness of first-generation student issues

MSU President Clifton SmartMissouri State President Clif Smart will join a panel discussion hosted by the College of Arts and Letters March 28 to bring first-generation college student stories to light.

About the panel

The panel will convene after the screening of the documentary, “First Generation,” where Smart will join the film’s director/producer, Adam Fenderson, along with a high school guidance counselor and first generation MSU college student, to explore ways in which our community can work together to help Missouri’s first-generation students experience greater success in college.



Photo credit: firstgenerationfilm.com
Photo credit: firstgenerationfilm.com

About ‘First Generation’

Narrated by Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood, the film tells the story of four high school students — an inner city athlete, a small town waitress, a Samoan warrior dancer, and the daughter of migrant field workers — who set out to break the cycle of poverty and bring hope to their families and communities by pursuing a college education.

Shot over the course of three years and featuring some of our nation’s top educational experts (Richard Kahlenberg, The Century Foundation; J.B. Schramm, College Summit; Dr. Bill Tierney, University of Southern California), this 95-minute documentary explores the problem of college access faced by first generation and low-income students and how their success has major implications for the future of our nation.

Event details

Date: Saturday, March 28
Time: Screening at 7 p.m.; Panel discussion at 8:45 to 9:45 p.m.
Location: Plaster Student Union (PSU) Theater
Parking: Available in Lot 24 (access off National Ave, one block south of Grand Street) or in Bear Park North, the park & ride facility next to Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts — then take MSU Shuttle to PSU.

Posted in Event, Master Class, News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Esteemed magazine publishes professor’s review

BihlmeyerMedia, journalism and film professor Jaime Bihlmeyer has been published in one of the oldest literary peer-review journals in the world, “Moderna språk.” His article reviews the book, “Dwelling in Language: Character, Psychoanalysis and Literary Consolations,” by Margret Gunnarsdottir Champion.

Bihlmeyer’s review

The book, according to Bihlmeyer’s review, explores the “ontological and therapeutic nature of character,” and is “intellectually stimulating — albeit not for the faint of heart.

“Her writing, directed towards scholars in the fields of semiotics, psychoanalysis and literary criticism, is succinct and technical at times. However, enthusiasts in these areas of study will be greatly rewarded for their perseverance,” he concludes.

About ‘Moderna språk’

The journal is dedicated to English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese languages, literatures and cultures. The articles in Moderna språk cover areas within linguistics, literature and culture and the main target group is language teachers and researchers at schools and universities worldwide. Articles and reviews are published twice every year (June and December). The main target group is researchers at schools and universities worldwide, language teachers, and readers with a general interest in languages, literatures and cultures.
Posted in Faculty & Staff Accomplishments, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Students get exclusive look at upcoming indie film

Photo courtesy www.imdb.com.

Film producer/director/screenwriter Alex R. Johnson met with a large group of students, faculty and general public this morning for a free master class in filmmaking. He previewed several scenes from his upcoming film, “Two Step,” at Plaster Student Union Theater. The award-winning thriller has been making its way around the festival circuit and is scheduled for public release later this year.

See the movie in full

Johnson will be back on campus Saturday night to screen the movie in full, offering a talk-back session afterward to provide additional insights on the film and answer questions. That event will be at 7:30 p.m. in the PSU Theater. It is also free and open to the public.

Low-budget filmmaking 101

two-stepJohnson was joined in Friday’s master class by media, journalism and film assistant professor Harrison Witt, who gaffed “Two Step.” A gaffer is the chief electrician and production designer’s assistant. The pair broke down each scene shown, explaining how it was created and offering advice on making a $250,000 film look like it cost $2 million.

For instance, a scene in the beginning involves an ambulance ride, but without advanced sound and lighting equipment, the crew decided to make it appear to move rather than film while driving. They accomplished this, Witt said, by shaking the vehicle gently while creatively manipulating sound and reflected light.

Other advice included making objective cuts while editing, trusting actors when they question a scene’s authenticity and striving to make each scene worthy.

“Good enough should never be acceptable. If you cast an actor that you think, ‘Oh he’s good enough. He’ll get us there.’ He is probably not going to get you there. Everything you do should maintain or elevate the film.”

Johnson ended the session by encouraging all who aspire to be filmmakers, to call themselves filmmakers. “Commit to that emotion. So much is just process before actual doing. Consider yourself a filmmaker even if you haven’t done it yet.”

About ‘Two Step’

After the death of his only living relative, his grandmother, a college drop-out discovers she was being scammed. From that point his path is inextricably—and violently—linked with the criminal who had targeted her. The film debuted at the South by Southwest festival last March.

Posted in Electronic Arts, Event, Faculty & Staff Accomplishments, Master Class, News | Leave a comment

Acclaimed director to give master class in filmmaking

Alex R. Johnson, the director and screenwriter of the acclaimed independent feature, “Two Step,” will present a master class in filmmaking from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Jan. 30, in Plaster Student Union Theater. The film will be screened the following evening, Jan. 31 from 7 to 9:30 p.m., with a talk-back session to immediately follow. Both events are free and open to the public.

Analyzing the filmmaking industry

Johnson, a producer, director and screenwriter, will discuss the state of independent filmmaking in the U.S. today; describe his work as a director, producer and screenwriter; and analyze several scenes from his award-winning dark thriller.

Professor to offer insights

Media, journalism and film’s assistant professor, Harrison Witt, will join Johnson in the class. Witt teaches cinematography, editing and filmmaking. He gaffed “Two Step,” which as been picked up for national and international distribution and has enjoyed a very successful run through the festival circuit this year.

Posted in Digital Film Production, Electronic Arts, Event, Faculty & Staff Accomplishments, Master Class | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

MJF alumna stars in TruTV docu-comedy

Photo credit: www.trutv.com
Photo credit: www.trutv.com

It isn’t unusual for media, journalism and film alumna Callie Carroll to be seen on TV. She is, after all, a news anchor for a Greenville, Mississippi, news station. But her audience and following might soon explode.

Show brings comedic light to news rivalry

The Missouri native is co-starring in the new comedic docu-soap, Breaking Greenville. The reality show features two competing news stations, including WXVT where Carroll is a morning news anchor. From the producers of The Office, the show promises to highlight “the playful — and at times cut-throat — rivalry between two local news stations and the dynamic newscasters who are determined to take their jobs seriously, even when some of the news they cover is less than serious,” according to its website.

Breaking Greenville airs at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 29 on TruTV.

More about Carroll

In a recent interview, Carroll — a 2013 MSU graduate in broadcast journalismtold the Springfield News-Leader the show began filming about the time she started working for the station, not long after graduation.

“I wanted to stay in the Midwest but this opportunity came along. Straight out of college I was able to produce and anchor my own morning show,” she said. “It’s been a great place to get a lot of experience. I really had to sink or swim.”

Posted in Broadcast Journalism, News | Leave a comment