Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why Young Filmmakers Should Go Viral

As video production equipment and software have become simpler and more affordable, well-appointed "filmmaking" programs have thrived.  Quality, of course, varies, but for aspiring content creators there's never been a better time to learn the craft.

 One of the greatest challenges facing both students and professors, however, is determining the skills necessary to push their newly created content out to an audience. While many seem focused on the traditional "big-ticket" markets of television and motion pictures, creating content for a digital audience offers the media entrepreneur an opportunity to "get in on the ground floor" of a rapidly developing industry.   It's no longer productive for a media student to simply learn to create.  Learning how to create media and use it to achieve goals or ambitions is a critical part of that education.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Noah Arceneaux (email:, a professor of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University.  Professor Arceneaux's course, Creative Uses of Emerging Media, is the capstone course in the Media Studies program.  While originally intended as a class focusing on theory, Arceneaux devised a concept to bring in "real world" experience.

The assignment:

"The challenge is seemingly simple, though also difficult at the same time – create a video and accumulate as many views on YouTube as possible. You will perform this task in groups of your own choosing."

Each student is also required to present a paper on their contribution, and any insights, knowledge or expertise they acquired along the way.

Exactly how students acquire views is up to them.    Some, naturally, focus first on their existing social networks.  Others, he notes, also extend their efforts into the analog world.  One group posted flyers with scannable QR codes at strategic locations around the SDSU campus.

The first class, offered last fall, was a great success. The winning video, to date, has accumulated 11,783 views.  Arceneaux notes that "the student had the clever idea of taking advantage of the nyan cat meme AND recognized that "costume" was a popular search term near Halloween."

Here's a collection of the Fall, 2011 videos, and Professor Arceneaux's observations:

While the videos themselves didn't offer great production value, this initial experience of creating for an audience in the digital age could be invaluable for any student hoping to build a forward-looking career in content creation.

In fact, it just might be essential.

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