On the Air with VPS as they film Artistic productions

Lightmary Flores
FEATURES EDITOR

A never-before-seen media crew captured the panoramic wide view of downtown Riverside’s province-style scenery surrounded by fresh flowers, exhibits with abstract local artwork and head banging performers. It was Riverside’s first annual Riverside Art & Music Festival last Saturday and Whittier College Video Production Studios (VPS) was the hosting media crew.

This street jam was hosted by Riverside Arts Council in partnership with the Riverside Downtown Council to help fundraise for Riverside County’s arts-related services, education and outreach.

Both Senior Executive Producer of VPS Luis Manzo and Whittier College alumni-turned-Development and Technology advisor Alex Hackworth reached out to Riverside city council about the opportunity to provide full media coverage for this event. 

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“I’ve worked with the city of Riverside, which is my hometown, and said, ‘well, I can put together a college crew and a high school crew from Riverside Poly High School,’” Hackworth said. “So the high school teachers at Poly High School were excited that their film students would be mentored by Whittier College media students.”

A week before the festival, the crew consisting of 13 VPS members worked closely with four Poly High students and preparing for the event by going over logistics, including lights, sound and shooting footage with high tech gear.

During the event, the crew covered every aspect of the festivities, with one crew utilizing a Ronin-M camera to shoot steady shots while another used the Tricaster large filming monitor —  worth $60,000 — which is often used for NFL broadcasting or Coachella concert video set-up. These high-tech cameras allowed them to shoot b-roll and live footage of headlining bands including Allison Iraheta + Halo Circus, Naive Thieves and Castle Pines as they performed to almost 10,000 local attendees.

VPS members had the opportunity to test their broadcasting skills by interviewing attendees and the bands backstage. These interviews also included local artists, hip-hop and Latin dance groups.

“As filmmakers, we always dream of having the opportunity of creating something that will make it on TV or the big screen,” Manzo said. “For them to have that project given to us: to produce, edit and film the entire festival was just amazing. They hired a crew of high school and liberal arts college students to do it. How cool is that!” The project will be aired as a 30-minute segment on Verizon and Charter on the Riverside local channel. 

According to Manzo,  the project allowed VPS to network with local managers who offer opportunities in Riverside for filming, including coverage of a Day of the Dead festival in Riverside and a concert series featuring well-known classic rock bands.

Both Hackworth and Manzo agreed that they felt the pressure when they stepped on set to film the festival, but once they got behind the camera, it was worth shooting. “If you want to be a filmmaker, regardless of what aspect of film you go into, whether that’s photography, cinematography or production, this is hands-on filming experience you won’t get anywhere else,” Manzo said. 

This year, VPS looks forward to continuing to enrich their filmmaking craft. They already have a few productions that are currently in the works, including an opportunity to work with a Black Entertaiment Television (BET) producer on filming a pilot for a reality show and a Whittier College VPS-created film that may be their ticket to Sundance Film Festival 2018.  

The crime comedy film that is currently in production, called Josh and the Sound Gig, is written and to be directed by Whittier College alumnus and former VPS member Michael Anda ’15. VPS has rented a studio in Burbank to utilize for the film. “We are excited to start production in two weeks and that will be our huge big VPS narrative film filmed and produced entirely by us,” Manzo said.