Organizers of a fundraiser for a Cashiers nonprofit organization say a documentary-style video created by Western Carolina University students and faculty helped contribute to the success of the event, with more than $43,000 of the $200,000 raised coming in after the video was screened.
Four students from the WCU Film and TV Production Program spent three months and went through 12 cuts creating the four-minute video featuring tennis star Andy Roddick for Mountain Youth Charities, a newly formed nonprofit organization to fund and improve programs for at-risk youth. Through interviews and community footage, the video conveyed the needs and dreams of children in Cashiers who are economically disadvantaged and at-risk of not graduating from high school. The video was shown at an event connected to the United Community Bank Mountain Challenge in which former world No. 1 players Roddick and Jim Courier faced off on the tennis court in late July.
“The video turned out wonderfully, and the compliments I’ve heard have been tremendous,” said Marcia Shawler, president of Mountain Youth Charities. “Each time I viewed the video, I kept thinking about what an excellent group effort this project was.”
The video was co-directed by recent graduate Tim Rudisill and Jason Ledford, a senior from Sylva who also served as cinematographer. Emily Maesar, a senior from Asheville was the writer, and Murphy DiIlow, a senior from Wake Forest, was the production manager. Arledge Armenaki, associate professor of cinematography, served as the video’s producer and Jack Sholder, director of the film and television production program, was a consultant on the project. In addition, Bruce Frazier, WCU’s Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Commercial and Electronic Music, composed the music.
Sholder said the video project enabled WCU students to make a difference in the community while also gaining valuable, hands-on experience. “This project represents the kind of meaningful digital content that we teach students to create, whether they are working on a major motion picture, a corporate video, a TV commercial or a fundraising film like this one,” he said.
“We train our students to tell a story, and that’s what this video did,” said Sholder. “The story touched people to the point where they reached for their handkerchief and then for their wallet.”
Rudisill said the project was a powerful experience for him.
“Everyone has a slightly different view on how Cashiers is viewed by outsiders and what the needs are of the community,” said Rudisill. “My job as co-director and editor then became a question of how do we, as a team, shine a spotlight on the youth of the community and the need for more and better programs to support them. I am proud to say that I was a part of this project. Every child deserves a chance to discover who they are and what they want to become without society completely dictating the outcome just because of the situation they were born into. We are helping to give the children in Cashiers a fighting chance to make a difference in the world. Every filmmaker should be so lucky.”
Watch “Mountain Youth Charities: Building Great Programs for Kids” at http://vimeo.com/70937827. To learn more about the Film and TV Production Program, a unit of the School of Stage and Screen, visit Film and Television Production Program.