Lauren Johnson was nervous about getting involved in productions until she got an unexpected call. As a senior media, journalism and film major at Missouri State University, it was her dream to work on a project like Show-Me Chefs.
It not only came true, but she also won an award of excellence for her work.
“Telling stories has always been my passion,” said Johnson, now a graduate student in the producing and screenwriting program. “I’m happy to say that for the last couple of years at Missouri State, I have gotten that opportunity on multiple occasions.”
Johnson was the head editor of the promotional video for Show-Me Chefs, a broadcast/webcast cooking competition television show produced in Springfield, Missouri by MSU’s department of media, journalism and film. The show features culinary talent from the Show-Me State.
Since its first season in 2015, Show-Me Chefs has entertained audiences with televised culinary showdowns between area chefs. It’s quickly become a local tradition — with an emphasis on local.
Show-Me Chefs creator Deb Larson, associate professor in the department of media, journalism and film, shared, “It sort of came to me as we were developing the show that most Americans are very disconnected from our food sources and producers.”
Larson said, “I want people to know we have all kinds of food being grown right here in southwest Missouri. Even year round you can buy fresh produce at the farmers markets. It’s a celebration of who we are.”
It’s a very hands-on learning process, and Larson knows when to step in as an educator and when to allow students to solve problems as they arise. “It’s all about them understanding how to be self-didactic. It’s a big crew, and the standards are high. If they don’t know something, they have to figure it out,” she said. “But they also have a team unit to help them troubleshoot issues.”
This course structure is modeled on a process called instructional scaffolding, which emphasizes providing targeted resources and support for students in a customizable learning environment — with the ultimate goal that students gain autonomy in the field.
Instructional scaffolding has long been employed through internships and learning from team supervisors or mentors. But Larson has formalized the process in student production by dividing a large team into production units, such as camera and lights, art department, and producing and directing. Each unit is led by a graduate student, who provides guidance to the upper- and lower-division students that make up the rest of the team.
The set offers a complex ecosystem in which to learn. “It really makes you appreciate how many people it takes to make a show,” Larson said. “Every single person’s job is important to the whole.”
An innovative take on public affairs
While the connection between a cooking show and Missouri State’s Public Affairs Mission may not be readily apparent, Larson sees a lot of overlap through community engagement. “We interface with so much of the Ozarks community to produce this show,” Larson said. “There are a lot of local food producers who are out there making a living or enhancing their income through their love of growing food, and we like helping people learn about and support them.”
By showcasing these ingredients, Show-Me Chefs hopes to inspire viewers to eat locally, which Larson believes contributes to a balanced lifestyle. She said, “If you eat local and seasonally, you’ll be better off for it.”
As an additional investment in the community, Show-Me Chefs donates a portion of the proceeds from its annual gala to Missouri-focused nonprofit Care to Learn. According to the Care to Learn website:
For thousands of kids in Missouri, school isn’t just a place for learning. It’s a shelter. A kitchen. A refuge from suffering. For these kids, hygiene needs go unmet. Meals are few. And clothes rarely fit. They come to school distracted by hunger and limited by embarrassment—their education an afterthought to survival.
The Mission of Care to Learn is to provide immediate funding to meet emergent needs in the areas of health, hunger and hygiene so every student can be successful in school. These are the things that stand between children and belonging—basic unmet needs that cause pain and embarrassment.
Larson said donating is important because “we want some of these kids to attend college later. And if they’re made to feel like they can’t learn and can’t succeed, they won’t believe they can do that. So we want to be part of making them feel successful now and in the future.”
Show-Me Chefs also receives donations from a diverse range of local businesses, including 319 Downtown Event Center, MaMa Jean’s Natural Market, Horrmann Meats, Red Top Oven, New Horizons Hydroponics, Urban Roots, Fellers Food Service and KOZL TV, who provide everything from prize money for the winning chef to pantry items to the aprons contestants wear on the show.
Larson praised this cross-campus collaboration. “It’s great working with Darr,” she said. “We want everyone to know that we have these programs. The College of Agriculture raises very good cattle, and the quality of the meat is excellent. We have award-winning wineries, and how cool is that? Sharing them on the show is a natural fit for us.”
And for viewers who get inspired and want to try Missouri State beef and wine? Rhonda Breshears of the Darr College of Agriculture shared that Hy-Vee and Horrmann Meats sell both beef and wine and that the wine is also available at the Brown Derby International Wine Center.
It’s the perfect way to dine like a Show-Me Chefs judge!
The Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts is a competitive festival open to BEA individual faculty and student members. Last year the Festival received over 1,530 total entries in 15 competitions.
BEA is the premiere international academic media organization, driving insights, excellence in media production, and career advancement for educators, students, and professionals… BEA serves as a forum for exposition, analysis and debate of issues of social importance to develop members’ awareness and sensitivity to these issues and to their ramifications, which will ultimately help students develop as more thoughtful practitioners.
Narrative Video Category
Award of Excellence
Counting to 1,000
Award of Excellence
Backstage (Season 1, Episode 1: “Just Ignore the Cameras”)
New documentary “Remembering the Normal Heart Controversy” will screen on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Plaster Student Union Theatre. A talk-back session with the filmmakers will follow the screening.
This film explores the controversy, politics — and ultimately — violence that swirled around a 1989 Missouri State production of Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart, which depicts the early days of the HIV-AIDS epidemic.
In revisiting these events, the documentary examines the complex and sometimes volatile issues that surround freedom of speech. It combines personal stories, perspectives and archival news footage to bring these ideas to life.
What: “Remembering the Normal Heart Controversy in Springfield, Missouri” — documentary and talk-back session
Patricia Moore is Missouri State University theatre alum who started working in documentary and educational film production in Palo Alto, California, in 1970. She has been a licensed mental health counselor for nearly thirty years. Patricia formed “As We Are Productions, LLC” to produce this documentary in memory of theatre friends who died of AIDS in the early stages of the epidemic.
Dax Bedell is an Emmy Award-winning editor and creative director who has worked in film and television since 2001. A Springfield, Missouri, native and graduate of Drury University, he has produced dozens of documentaries and hundreds of feature segments for PBS and other major networks nationwide. Dax is a founding member of The Corps, an international artist collective and production company that provides creative services for projects around the world.
Remembering the Normal Heart flyer
For more about the documentary and the history of these events, access the flyer.
Lucie Amberg, a Missouri State new media specialist, per course faculty member and graduate student pursuing a Master of Science and Administrative Studies degree, recently wrote a successful grant application to the Missouri Humanities Council for an interdisciplinary, multimedia project on African-American history in the Ozarks.
Stories that are waiting to be told
This project began with sociology faculty members Lyle Foster and Tim Knapp, who completed a series of KSMU interviews last spring. Amberg joined the project as a producer when Foster and Knapp became interested in expanding it into video and other forms of media.
“I have always been interested in people and their stories,” Amberg said. “And these stories are right there, waiting to be told. The exciting thing about digital media is that we can share people’s experiences in their own words.”
Documenting history of African-Americans in the Ozarks
The project is a living archive; Amberg and her research partners are developing a project website that details the purpose of the project — to document and share the experiences of African-Americans in the Ozarks. The website features specific people, interviews, events and places illustrated through videos, articles and audio recordings.
When the first version releases, Amberg hopes other contributors will add their own stories and experiences to this living archive: “If you want to know what an experience was like for someone, you have to ask them — and then you have to listen. Even a situation you feel you know, you never truly understand until you hear from someone who has lived it.”
Amberg credits successful collaboration between the research partners with drawing out these stories. “As a producer, you know that the interview can only be as good as the interviewer. It’s incumbent on the interviewer to listen deeply and create an atmosphere of openness. Lyle did this beautifully, which is why the footage is so compelling.”
Grant pays for production costs
The Missouri Humanities Council grant is a critical supporter in making the technological pieces of this project happen.
“The council was very generous in awarding us money,” Amberg said. “The grant has allowed us to hire an extra editor and paid for a few other costs associated with getting the videos and website up and running.”
Workshop gives boost needed to apply
Although Amberg had no experience with the grant process, she sensed this project held potential for grant-funded support. In May, she attended a grant-writing workshop the College of Arts and Letters hosted with the College of Humanities and Public Affairs, which pointed her in the direction of the Missouri Humanities Council grant.
“As part of the grant, we have public interaction around this piece,” Amberg said. “We are currently talking about events timed with African American Heritage Month and the Collaborative Diversity Conference.”
Blending academic studies with professional life
Amberg will graduate in 2017. From the experience she has gained from the MSAS program, Amberg said she feels she has furthered her professional development.
“I’m able to customize my studies into my professional world, which gives me the opportunity to work on producing and writing for new media — advancing my professional skills and experience.”
Dr. Andy Cline set out to write a book about the changing landscape of urban communities — particularly the mass migration of suburban residents to more central neighborhoods within walking distance of commerce. That idea evolved into a full-length documentary film, “Downtown,” that recently won best film in the Urban Sociology category at the 2016 New Urbanism Film Festival.
Students become the teachers
Cline, an associate professor in media, journalism and film, recruited several former and current students to help him complete the film project. The film showed locally at a local independent cinema, The Moxie.
A photojournalist in a former life, Cline said he admittedly knew little about filmmaking before beginning “Downtown.” He has relied on the expertise of his crew to teach him the ropes.
What he does know is a good story when he sees it.
Urban renewal at crux of trend
The New Urbanism movement is not terribly new. For the last three decades, people have been fighting the sprawl of suburbia and advocating for sustainable living. Many larger cities have reverted back to its roots of mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods.
Springfield is finally catching up.
Cline said baby boomers — his generation — and millennials are flocking to downtown areas to escape the confinement that comes with maintaining landscaping and driving miles into town for work and entertainment.
“It doesn’t take many from America’s two largest generations doing a thing to make a trend,” he said. “And in a place like Springfield, the movement of 250 to 500 people can cause a Heers, a Sterling, a McDaniel to get built. They can’t build stuff fast enough.”
Springfield exemplifies national struggle
“Downtown” details the difficulties and opportunities metropolitan areas face as more residents seek out sustainable, human-scale communities. The scope of the documentary’s reporting is national, Cline said, but the stories are based in Springfield, a microcosm of the trend at large.
“Springfield, while it’s not Portland, Oregon, it’s also not the armpit of America. It’s somewhere in the middle. We are struggling with the same things that many urban areas are struggling with, and similar things are happening here in terms of this trend.”
One interesting topic explored in “Downtown” is ways trust is established in urban areas where people of all socio-economic backgrounds converge. How do you create an environment where all feel comfortable to work and play?
Turning this experience into an MSU course
Cline was inspired during his work on “Downtown” to incorporate documentary filmmaking into his role as an educator. He’s developing two new film projects to work on with students as part of classes offered at Missouri State.
Last summer, he and geography professor Dr. Paul Rollinson took a group of students on a study away trip to the Trans-Siberian Railway. Cline’s students are creating a short film about their travels.
He has also begun work on a full-length documentary about the impending student debt crisis and the potential it has to undermine the economic well being of an entire generation.
This introductory course focuses on the fundamental rules and tools of screenwriting for film, television, and the web. Students focus on scenework for the majority of the semester and finish by creating a short film script (that they may choose to film in one of their later production classes). This class will be offered every semester from this point on; it’s the ideal starting point for those of you who have not yet taken a writing course.
MED 568: Writing the Web Series
Offered Tuesday/Thursday, 2 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Students work in teams to generate ideas for and then write the first-season scripts for web series. Multiple projects from previous versions of this course have gone on to see production and win awards. Special focus will be placed on creating and shaping episodic series that can fit within a realistic budget and have the potential for multiple seasons.
Instructor permission required—email Richard Amberg if you’re interested.
Contact Richard Amberg with any questions about these classes or Missouri State’s screenwriting programs.
Filmmakers and screen actors often rely on each other to make a production work. This symbiotic relationship is driving a growing collaboration between Missouri State’s department of media, journalism and film, and department of theatre and dance.
Overlap in theatre and film
Kurt Heinlein, professor of theatre and dance and acting program coordinator, said despite the departments offering a different range of degree and course options, there is a lot of opportunity for overlap in theater and film. Each area teaches skills that are needed in the film production process.
“The logical trajectory of that has been more crossover work. Some of this was already happening, but we’ve formalized it a bit to benefit the students in both departments.”
The collaboration also comes, in part, as a result of a changing dynamic in MSU’s acting program and the acting profession — less emphasis on stage acting and more in on-camera work.
“Our department heads, as well as the dean’s office, have been really supportive about these crossover initiatives,” Heinlein said. “Every time I approach someone to say, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about this,’ the answer I get is, ‘Yeah, let’s figure out how we can make it happen.’ That’s so huge, so important for the students.”
“One directing class … was designed to give students in both of our departments additional opportunities to not just work together, but to get to know each other,” Twibell said. “It’s our hope that these opportunities will help demystify the production and acting processes.”
Recently, the College of Arts and Letters has explored combining course work across departments with the idea that the collaboration will result in the creation of a film.
This innovative, combined curriculum may shape the future of both departments in years to come.
Testing skills learned in the classroom
Student projects, department-produced films and web series, and other locally filmed productions are examples of resume-building opportunities offered to students in departments across COAL. Here are a few created in the last year.
This project had strong ties to Missouri State. It’s director, Thomas Rennier, is an MSU alumnus Thomas Rennier. “The Weight” was filmed in 2015 in nearby Greenfield, Missouri. Several COAL alumni and students participated as cast and crew members. Heinlein was the film’s stunt coordinator.
“Counting to 1000”
Seniors in electronic arts are required to complete a senior thesis project. “Counting to 1000” is one such project created by Josh Pfaff, Samantha Rhode, Logan Sparlin, Joshua Moore and Andrew Westmaas. Since its spring 2016 debut, it has been accepted into several national film festivals and won numerous awards.
The media, journalism and film-produced web series “Limbo” was initiated as a way to bring students in theatre and film together for a large-scale project, said Twibell.