Eating in Place
April 22, 2010
Last summer, while making Eating in Place, a documentary about the local food movement, Calvin senior Dustin Smith filmed workers at Eding Brothers’ Celery Farm in Hamilton, Mich., putting the tender celery shoots into the soil one by one. “When I went there and saw how they were planting, I was blown away,” said the media productions major, “because that’s a half-mile from where I grew up, and I had never seen it.”
Smith served as the chief producer on Eating in Place, which will have its premiere at 7 p.m., Friday, April 23, at Calvin College’s Prince Conference Center. The film will premiere to a wider audience on WGVU-TV at 4 p.m., Saturday, April 24, 2010.
Alums and experts
Eating in Place, which was funded by the Grand Rapids Area Council for the Humanities (GRACH), documents the local food movement in the west Michigan area, exploring area farms, co-ops, farmers markets, creameries, gardens and supermarkets. The film features interviews with 28 local farmers, gardeners, entrepreneurs, activists, businesspersons and agriculturalists—including Calvin alumni and faculty such as Kristin Van Haitsma of Mud Lake Farm, Michael VanderBrug and Anja Mast of Trillium Haven Farm, and David Dornbos of the Calvin biology department.
"I had no idea how important this was,” Smith said of the local food movement. “Everywhere we went, people were so proud we’re doing this. It’s been fun.” The documentary, he added was a formative experience for its makers—all Calvin media production students.
Eating in Place was created by CAS 222, a communication arts and sciences (CAS) class which gives students real-world experience producing film, television and radio projects. Titled Calvin Media Company, the class tackles a different project every semester.
"The 222 class functions as a kind of production house,” said Jake Bosmeijer, the CAS chief engineer who teaches the class. Prior 222 classes have done projects with the Grand Rapids Fire Department, Faith Alive Christian Resources and with GRACH. Eating in Place was the biggest project the class has undertaken.
"It was an excellent learning exercise … ,” Bosmeijer said. The scope of the project gave students wide-ranging experience with the different facets of media production, he added: “So many times if you have an exercise for a class, as soon as you do ‘x’ amount of edits, you’re done.”
All kinds of edits
Some of the student’s choices were tweaked by the client: “We had wheat as a theme,” said junior media production major Kristin Crawford, who created the graphics for the film, “and when we showed it to them, they told us wheat isn’t grown in Michigan as a crop.” Crawford switched to a burlap theme.
Junior media production major Rachel Kuyvenhoven, who handled audio chores on the film, found the workload a bit intense: "The thing about audio is nothing can be done until the video is completed,” she said. Once Smith delivered the rough cut, Kuyvenhoven went on an editing marathon. “I lived over there for a while,” she said of DeVos Communication Center. However, despite the extreme hours, she values the experience. “Something this size—55 minutes—is a lot bigger than the five-minute pieces we do,” Kuyvenhoven said. “Here, I’m ‘E-Q-ing’ for 28 people.”
Those are just the kinds of production experiences that CAS 222 is designed to provide, said Bosmeijer. "What we’re trying to do is make this a class students will take every year,” he said. Crawford is ready to re-up: “This is my third time in 222,” she said. “It adds something every year.”
Smith said he enjoyed playing producer on a real-world project: “I’d say the biggest thing for me is just getting outside and working with a client … ,” he said.” Communication is a huge deal.” A fifth-year senior, he has already lined up a post-graduation producing gig.
The 222 class’s current client praised the students’ efforts: “Calvin's involvement was absolutely essential to the making of this documentary,” said GRACH executive director Nurya Love Parish. “Everyone involved worked above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the film was a success.”
~By Myrna Anderson, communications and marketing