B-TV began as a club in the fall of 1995. School officials were looking for another option in technology for students as computer skills were being integrated into all classes.
The club started with 30 members who taped primarily athletic events and concerts. The first B-TV program to air on CATS was a special about Spirit Week. The new club had no equipment, so video cameras were borrowed form the Batchelor media center.
In the 1996 – 97 school year, the program grew to 125 members. A video production class was offered to eighth graders for the first time. Several B-TV students appeared before a joint session of the Telecommunications Council and City Council to apply for a grant. The students were awarded $3,800.00 for equipment. The students had the opportunity to work with CATS on several broadcasts of high school and middle school athletic events. The students produced their first news magazine in December and the school’s first video yearbook in May.
B-TV grew to 200 members in 1997 – 98. There were three video production classes a day. The students produced six news magazines, a video yearbook, and several other productions throughout the year. The students also produced variety specials. Many of the B-TV shows appeared on CATS.
The 1998 – 99 school year saw Batchelor become a much smaller school with the opening of Jackson Creek. Video Production was offered as an elective at the seventh grade level for the first time. The group had 70 members and produced four news magazines, a video yearbook, and the Batchelor 25th Anniversary Special.
In 1999 – 2000, B-TV grew to 125 members. The group was much more goal oriented than ever before and decided to enter the AIME Media Fair competition. After winning district in the video and web-site categories, the students advanced to state where they placed fifth in video and seventh in web-site. With most of the team being seventh graders, the students set a goal of being state and national media fair champions the following year. The students also produced several news magazines, variety specials, and a video yearbook.
The students worked very hard in 2000 – 2001 to achieve their lofty goals. They spent time over the summer planning projects. There were 180 members. They were able to break new ground by producing a weekly live broadcast, producing a commercial that aired on Insight cable, and producing a large number of outstanding news magazines, interview shows, variety specials, and a very good video yearbook. The “Tales of Terror” Halloween Variety Special set the tone early that B-TV had reached a whole new level of production skill. But they elevated B-TV to a much higher level by accomplishing their goal of winning the state media fair video title with “Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. They followed it up by winning the live action video: Drama category at the AECT International Student Media Festival that summer with the same project. Thirty-six students traveled to Atlanta, Georgia the following November to the awards ceremony. The students also won three awards in the Philo T. Farnsworth video contest.
The 2001 – 2002 school year saw the membership climb to 200 members once again. The students produced several outstanding projects. The group had four winning projects in the AECT International Student Media Festival. They also won the Judge’s Award for the best overall middle school video in the competition for their production of “A Christmas Carol.” Six seventh graders won the special Spotlight on the Arts award from the National School Board Association. Twenty-three students traveled to Dallas, Texas in November for the AECT convention and International Student Media Festival awards. The group also won two awards in the Philo T. Farnsworth contest. Members of that group were honored by the State Legislature.
The 2002 – 2003 school year was an amazing run. The students completed a record number of news-magazines, a video yearbook, three variety specials, three interview shows, and nineteen media fair projects. Membership peaked at an all time high of 287 members. There were six video production classes per day. While increasing the number of productions, the students produced a full length movie – “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and a twenty one minute documentary on the Holocaust entitled “Evil Exposed – the Tragedy of the Holocaust”.
The students won the state media fair Best of Category in two events (live action video and transparencies), won five awards in the Windsong Student Film Festival, and won trophies in the Videographer Awards, Telly Awards, and Communicator Awards. They had ten winning projects in the International Student Media Festival, and won the Best High School Documentary in the fall of 2004 for “Evil Exposed” at the International Student Film Festival Hollywood. The students held a premiere of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” at the Buskirk Chumley Theatre in May of 2003 complete with limo arrivals and a red carpet.
A group of B-TV alumni who were in high school at Bloomington High School South started the B-TV Senior group that year. They produced an International Student Media Festival Winner in “Reflections – A Tribute to Jill Behrman”, a documentary about a Bloomington girl who was abducted and killed. The film was also screened at the International Student Film Festival Hollywood, and a short clip was shown on the Fox News Network’s “Crime Scene” television show in 2006.
The 2003 – 2004 group capped off a memorable year with a trip to Anaheim and Los Angeles, California in October for the AECT International Student Media Festival workshop and awards for forty students. The students were able to tour UCLA, USC, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, NBC, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica. They also attended technology workshop classes, made presentations, and enjoyed both Disneyland and California Adventure. It was the trip of a lifetime.
In 2003 – 2004, the students once again produced Washington Irving’s classic “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” into a short film, as well as produced a documentary on Harassment and Bullying. Both projects were winners in the International Student Media Festival, along with six other middle school projects and three high school projects. An elementary after school program was started with around ten students from our feeder elementary schools joining the first B-TV Junior group. One of the elementary students also won an award at the International Student Media Festival. The group also won one middle school and three high school Best of Category awards at the state media fair and several awards at the Windsong Student Film Festival. Thirty students traveled to Chicago for the AECT International Student Media Festival workshop and awards. They also visited the museums and Navy Pier.
It was another banner year for the program in 2004 – 2005. The students produced their second feature length movie – Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” in black and white. Once again, the group held a Hollywood style premier at the Buskirk Chumley Theatre with limousine arrivals by the cast. A number of video shorts were also produced. The group brought home three middle school, four high school, and one elementary Best of Category awards at the AIME State Media Fair. They also won several awards in the Windsong Student Film Festival, and had the K – 8 winner in Macro-System’s Casablanca Future Vision competition. Other awards include the Telly Awards, Communicator Awards, Videographer Awards, and Aurora Awards. The group also was honored once again by the Indiana State Legislature. The students also hosted their own film festival in May with eighty entries coming in from outstanding programs in Indiana, California, and Florida.
In January, four students from the program (two eighth graders and two sophomores), two chaperones, and me ventured to Poland with Auschwitz survivor Eva Mozes Kor, and a group from Terre Haute, Indiana. We visited both the Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II – Birkeneau concentration camps. The students had the thrill of being part of the International Press Corps for the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz Ceremony. The students also toured Warsaw. A more detailed account of this trip is included in this book.
The students also began the “World War II: A Time for Heroes” project. Many interviews were conducted throughout the year. Students began working on this book, as well as the documentary and a web-site. A two hour version of the documentary was shown at the Buskirk Chumley Theatre in June. The students then began re-constructing it as a six part documentary mini-series that continued into the fall. Work on the book continued until early May 2006.
The group won twelve middle school, seven high school, and two elementary awards, plus four Best of Festival awards including “World War II: A Time for Heroes” and “Frankenstein” at the AECT International Student Media Festival. Twenty-seven students traveled to Orlando, Florida in October for the workshops, awards, and the Disney parks. Several of the photographs taken in Poland were included in the winners.
“Return to Auschwitz”, a short about the journey to Poland through the perspective of Eva Kor, also won the Best High School Documentary at the International Student Film Festival Hollywood along with numerous other awards. Five B-TV Senior members traveled to Los Angeles to make college visits to Chapman University, USC, Cal State Long Beach, and the Los Angles Film School. All five students have goals of studying film in southern California.
The 2005 – 2006 school year is currently in session, but the group once again made their mark by winning the middle school category of C-SPAN’s Student Cam video contest. The three girls won $1000 for their effort, and the primary producer was interviewed on live national television on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal”. The project was shown on C-SPAN as well. A news story featuring interviews from both our students and the high school winners appeared in USA Today in May. Nearly 300 students are involved in B-TV, B-TV Senior, and B-TV Junior this year. While most contest results are not in yet, the group has had another very successful year. Current 7th graders joined the book project to help finish this incredible learning experience.
The upcoming 2006 – 2007 school year has been another outstanding year for the group with our third full length movie, “Oliver Twist”, scheduled to be finished in June. The group also produced 14 projects for the C-SPAN Student Cam, a project for the National School Board Association/Apple contest, as well as several other projects that will be entered at the AECT International Student Media Festival, International Student Film Festival Hollywood, the Windsong Film Festival, and others. Several original student screenplays were filmed, including “Sod Habigor”, a film about German boxing legend Max Schmeling hiding two boys at the beginning of the Holocaust. While the results aren’t in, we look for the group to have a lot of success this year.
With a standards driven curriculum featuring research projects (documentaries, this book), interpreting classic literature to film, and news casting - B-TV is on the cutting edge of offering educational opportunities for students in an elective setting. B-TV’s motto has been “Now that we’ve reached the mountaintop, let’s climb a higher mountain.” Several current and past students are either currently pursuing or have expressed an interest in pursuing this field as a college major and career. In eleven years, B-TV has come a long way from its humble beginning.
We had a few moments with Jeff Rudkin:
SVN: Jeff, tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
JR: I took a few telecom classes in college, then went on to get a degree in Social Studies with a minor in music. I taught social studies and computer applications at Lora Batchelor Middle School for a few years. When the computer class curriculum was being integrated into the core subject areas - we started looking for another technology based elective to offer. I suggested video production. We started small, with 30 kids as a club, then added a class. It grew quickly in popularity. When the group started winning awards, the class grew to being offered six periods per day. In the early days, I attended workshops, etc. I also collaborated with a professional videographer, and an Indiana University Telecom professor. In the last three years, I have been asked to speak at workshops and seminars about our program, including the National School Board Association Spring Conference in California in 2007.
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
JR: We started with nothing. We borrowed camcorders from the school library and edited tape to tape. In 1996, I applied for a grant from the City of Bloomington and received $2600 to buy good camcorders, tripods, and microphones. The school bought us a mixing board to edit on. In 1997, the school bought us a Casablanca editing system, and another camera. In 2001, while raising money to take our ISMF winners to Atlanta, we raised double the money needed, and were able to bus a Sony VX2000 camera, a light kit, and Shure wireless microphones. In 2003, I applied for and recieved a $20,000 CAPE grant from Lily, and we were able to buy a lot of equipment. Our parents have been great at raising money, and the school system also supports our program. It is a combination of all those things that fund B-TV. I am always looking for grants.
SVN: Did you have equipment available?
JR: Not in the beginning. I think I answered this in the previous question. We have a decent amount of equipment, but always need more for the number of students we have in the program.
SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
JR: We have between 250 and 300 kids in the program this year. The class is offered six periods a day. Most students take the class one semester (student producers take the class all year). Both 7th and 8th graders take the class, with many students taking it both years. The classes are mixed 7th and 8th grade classes, which means I have 3 levels of the class going on at onece each period (VP 1, VP 2, and Advanced VP (producers)). I also have high school kids and elementary kids who participate after school. The classes average nearly 30 per class. There are also kids not in the class who participate after school.
SVN: Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
JR: The classes are 45 minutes long, and average about 30 kids. We use a textbook with the VP 1 students, and mix textbook work with hands on class projects, and some small group projects. There is an emphasis on screenplay writing. Projects include news magazines, drama, original screenplays, a movie, original student written music videos, sportscasting, variety specials, documentaries, media & film festival projects, photography, animation, and a video yearbook.
SVN: How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
JR: We have a crew of 16 kids who do the live broadcast (13 eighth graders, 3 seventh graders). They were selected based on their skill, leadership qualities, behavior, and level of participation. It is a weekly live broadcast (some taped segments) every Friday morning. It does include sports highlights, clips from concerts, interview clips, etc.
SVN: What jobs do the kids do? Do the kids rotate through on-air talent and crew positions or are they "hired" for a specific task?
JR: We have specific students run the mixing board. The on air talent rotates, as do the other positions (camera, lighting, sound, teleprompter, director, etc.)
SVN: Do students audition for on-air positions?
JR: No, I give all of the students in the broadcast team the opportunity to be on air talent, and occassionally invite other students to "guest host".
SVN: Do they write the content?
JR: The students write the scripts for the show, as they do for all of their productions (documentaries, news magazines, etc.)
SVN: How long does the show run?
JR: 5 - 7 minutes, with the exception of the final broadcast on the last day of school that includes a tribute to the 8th grade and handing the show over to the 7th graders - which is about 15 minutes long.
SVN: Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills and SchoolTube TV?
JR: Our students have a great track record with video festivals. They have produced 84 winning projects since 2001 in the AECT International Student Media Festival, including 22 this year. We are taking 31 kids to Anaheim, California October 24 -28 for the festival and awards.
We also had six kids win the National School Board Association/Apple Moviefest (Spotlight on the Arts) this year. They will attend the NSBA festival to be honored October 16 - 19 in Nashville, Tennessee. We have a bunch of students working in groups of three to submit documentaries into the C-SPAN Student Cam contest. Three of our students were the overall middle school winners in 2006. They were interviewed by USA Today.
In November, we have 7 of our projects that were selected to be screened by the International Student Film Festival Hollywood. We have had a winning film in that festival each of the last 3 years. I will be attending.
We also had a student win the Best High School Documentary award at last years' Newport Beach Film Festival. We have had 22 winning films in the Windsong Student Film Festival in Fort Wayne since 2003. We have won awards both regionally (Philo T Farnsworth awards) and nationally (Hometown Video Festival Awards) for our work submitted to Community Access Television.
We also have won the K-8 division of the Casablanca Futurevision Video festival the past two years, and have two finalists in it currently. We enter a lot of festivals. The kids have also won 7 Telly Awards. We have not yet entered the two you mentioned. Are they new?
SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
JR: We put a lot of our student work on Community Access Television. Our full length movies, and our World War II documentary are very popular, and are requested a lot. We do not have our work on the school district web-site due to hard drive space issues.
SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
JR: We have 3 Sony VX200 camcorders, 2 mini cams (Sony), a Lowell light kit, Shure wireless lavalier and hand held microphones, an Audio Technica shotgun mic, bogen tripods, two mixing boards, a live broadcast mixer, 2 qudio mixers, 4 Casablanca editing systems (1 Renommee, 1 Kron, 1 Avio, 1 Classic), 2 Apple computers with Final Cut Pro, a Dell computer with Adobe Premier and After Effects, 3 DVD recorders, a DVD copying tower, etc.
SVN: Have any quick start tips!
JR: Start slow and have fun. Don't try to try everything at once. We have added to our curriculum as we went along. Get the support of the school and community - it is vital.
You can see more of Batchelor Middle Schools work at