As a college student thinking about their career, you may be sick of all of the talk about “professionalism” and gaining “professional skills”. What exactly does professionalism even mean? Demonstrating professionalism does not necessarily mean carrying a briefcase, wearing a pencil skirt, or suiting up with a tie. Professionalism is “conducting oneself with responsibility, accountability, integrity, and excellence,” and it looks slightly different in various job settings. At a construction site, in an office, or even as a student on campus, you can build and demonstrate this important skill!
UTV62 is NAU’s on-campus television station and student-run film production studio. UTV62 has recently expanded their efforts and now they are producing one festival-worthy short film each semester. This group of dedicated students demonstrates professionalism in a way that is unique and meaningful to them. Ryan Massey, Electronic Media and Film Senior at NAU and director of Act Your Age, gives us some insight on what he does with UTV62:
How would you describe the workplace culture of NAU UTV 62?
“Our workplace culture at UTV62 is changing. Since we only recently began pursuing this new direction, we are still working to redefine our goals and determine our values. We want to continue to offer a variety of opportunities to cater to the different interests of our members, even as we change our direction. Many of the members of UTV62 are passionate about filmmaking and really enjoy this opportunity to do more ambitious things beyond what they are assigned in their classes. UTV62 is an ideal workplace for passionate and highly-motivated students who want to begin working towards their careers while still in school.”
What are you most proud of as a student organization?
“What we are most proud of as an organization is the short film we completed in Spring 2014, A Grim Tale. No film of this scope had ever been completed at NAU before. We had a crew of over thirty students and a cast of about ten characters. The script was twenty pages and included multiple locations, making it much more challenging than anything we’d ever attempted. It was an incredible learning process and along the way we had no idea how our final product would turn out, but we are really pleased with the end result. It’s a great new direction for UTV62.”
Have you run into any problems that you did not anticipate? What did you do about it?
“In film production, anything that can go wrong usually will. There are so many unpredictable variables involved in filmmaking, such as cast and crew schedules, location availability, equipment malfunctions, budget shortages, and in a college environment, many students’ plans change on short notice. It’s impossible to anticipate what problems will arise in a production, so you must constantly be prepared to think on your feet. Not only do you need a Plan B, but also a Plan C and D. Things constantly come up at the last minute, or the day of, and you have to think fast in order to keeps the production moving.”
Can you think of the skills you have gained by working with NAU UTV 62?
“I have gained so many valuable skills working in UTV62 that I wouldn’t have gained otherwise. I have pushed myself farther in these last two semesters working on these two films than I had in my previous three years of college. UTV62 has offered an avenue for me to hone my skills and work on projects where I can focus on quality, creativity, and my own ambitions without having to adhere to predetermined requirements. My role on A Grim Tale was Line Producer (although I also became the lead actor as well!) so I created the budget and handled the finances for the film. This gave me the great insight into the business side of filmmaking and taught me about the kind of expenses that I had never considered, such as the cost of feeding a crew, marketing materials, and endless supplies of batteries. On our current film I’m fulfilling a more creative and intensive role, as Director. Through my experience as a director I’ve learned how to elicit great performances from actors, visualize a screenplay from beginning to end, and come up with creative solutions to unforeseen problems. Additionally, having to manage over forty people has taught me a lot about the importance of communication.”
How do you think this experience will impact your career after NAU?
“Having a completed short film that I directed is a very tangible way of showing potential employers what I am capable of. One of our hopes for this film is that we can have it shown at film festivals, which could be great for exposure and networking opportunities. I’ve already made a lot of connections, not only with peers, but with professionals as well.”
What is NAU UTV-62 currently working on?
“UTV62 has just completed production of our latest short film, Act Your Age. It was a high intensity shoot that spanned three full weekends and involved over sixty NAU students as well as numerous actors of all ages from the community. In order to produce this film we ran a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter and raised a total of $4,800. We also received $2,000 in funding from ASNAU. This makes Act Your Age the biggest budgeted film ever attempted at NAU. Currently, our post-production team at UTV62 is working to assemble the film for its premiere at the 73 Hour Film Festival, which will take place at NAU’s Cline Library on Friday, December 5th.”
While you may not be seeing any ties or pantyhose at UTV62, you will see students demonstrating professionalism as they take responsibility for creating an excellent student-run organization. No matter what careers these students ultimately pursue, they are developing transferable skills, including planning, organizing, delegating, adaptability, and others. Ryan and his co-workers are gaining valuable experiences as directors and members as they weave their individual interests into a creative and productive workplace.