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Getting my feet wet: My take on the Sprockets Project

September 11, 2012

By RayLynn Prokasky, Youth Producer- St. Paul Sprockets Project

I must say that at the beginning of the St. paul Sprockets project I didn’t know what to expect. My co-producer Darartu and I had different levels of experience, as well as differing views about production. Add that to the fact that we’re both very headstrong young women and we could have had a very frustrating summer. But in the end, it turned out to be one of the best production experiences I have EVER had!

The mission of this pilot project was to create seven short documentaries that profile youth serving organizations within the Saint Paul Sprockets out-of-school time network in just 10 weeks. Sounds a little lofty, right? Or at least that’s what we thought at first. Once Darartu and I met with our production consultant Joanna Kohler for the first time, we were able to start picturing how the whole project would pan out in the end. We even figured out how Darartu and I could come together, despite our different experience levels, to create harmonious “docu-magic” together.

The first week, we did a practice exercise where we created a video about SPNN’s Master Control department. We interviewed master control operator, Taj Hassan. This helped us to get a feel for the production style and schedule.

When we finally got to our main production schedule, we started working on profiles of the YMCA and the West 7th Community Center. Then, we took a week off for the 4th of July! When we came back we produced a piece on SPNN's Youth Programs, Cycles for Change, the YWCA, the Teen Power Urban 4-H Club, and the Community Design Center.

In weeks 9 and 10, we spent our time putting the finishing touches on all of the pieces we had made based on initial feedback from each of our client organizations.

Our production schedule was 20 hours a week. On Mondays we would meet with our client to identify their wants and needs for the project. Tuesdays were our on-site shooting days. Then on Wednesdays and Thursdays we would edit out footage.                  

Weeks 1 and 2 went famously. Darartu had an exceedingly rapid learning curve and was able to catch up to my level pretty quickly.  Personally, I learned a lot about how to work as a team with another producer.

By week 3, we hit a tiny speed bump in the process. After seeing the first finished video, the project coordinators decided that they wanted to change direction with the project. They wanted us to add a new technique that we’d never tried before. It was quite the challenge to actually be doing client-based freelance production projects while  also learning new techniques AND learning how to even relate to clients.  But in the end, Darartu and I pooled our talent and created some really awesome “documercials” that we are both proud of.

Now that we’ve come to the end of the project and received our feedback from the Sprockets team and the organizations we worked with, we’re ready to call it complete. Thanks to Joanna Kohler, Nicola Pine, Mary Pumphrey, and Shelley Rohlf, we’re regular professionals.

The St. Paul Sprocket promo video productions project was made possible through collaboration between St. Paul Sprockets, SPNN Youthand the aforementioned community non-profit organizations. These videos will air on Mondays between 7-8pm on SPNN YTV Channel 16 in St. Paul for the month of October. Click here to view the videos online.