“You are such a storyteller” my mom would tell me as a little girl, but little did we know storytelling would become my career path.
Growing up in the town of Acushnet, Massachusetts with the population of 10,000, it was rare to hear of someone working in the media industry. I attended Fairhaven High School, a castle on a hill, that prepared students for higher education, but did not have any accreditation for media. When I entered as freshman, I did not know what career path I wanted, but the green screen and lighted anchor desk in the media suite stood out to me. I took a plain Media Production 1 class and auditioned to be an anchor on the school’s broadcasted morning announcements, but was rejected. Media was not prominent in the school and after a very ordinary experience, the lights did not look as bright as I thought they would.
Too stubborn to give up on the idea that something could be better, I took Media Production 2 my sophomore year. With new teacher Drew Furtado came a new program that I invested myself in. Furtado saw potential in me that was brushed off my freshman year, and I began to learn advanced production skills and techniques. What set me apart from the rest of the students was that the rigour of the class did not bother me, but rather excited me because I was creating content that would affect an audience. That year, the New England NATAS Student Production Awards were introduced to us. The idea of winning a high school division of the Emmy Awards was incredible and almost unimaginable. I submitted a music video, but was rejected a win.
My junior year I realized that people steer away from the media industry because of its unpredictability, but when I looked forward to my future, I could not visualize a life without it. Knowing that education and experience is the stepping stone to the real world, I committed myself to being integral to my school’s media production department. I took a lot of opportunities, like emceeing pep rallies and directing a live broadcast of graduation, but I made it a point to tackle whatever I did with a high quality mindset. That year, I submitted to the regional Student Production Awards, but again was rejected a win.
My senior year I was immersed in all things media and took three independent classes. The classes were difficult, but maturing, because I was my own teacher in the sense that I was deciding what I wanted to produce. After the production of music video White Teeth Teens, I began working on my personal favorite piece, Excellence. Excellence is a promotional video for Fairhaven High that was done over several months. My sister, a teacher at another local high school, had showed our family her school’s promotional video and jokingly said I could not produce something similar, so, naturally, I had to prove her wrong. During the production of Excellence, I took on another story that I coined Close to 190,000, a video essay on a local resident and his efforts in stringing up 190,000 lights for the holiday season. Producing this story entirely by myself in the freezing cold winter while working on Excellence made it easy to give up, but if something was easy, I didn’t want it.
Senior year was a milestone for me because I received a lot of well deserved recognition in different areas, but the most important was the prestigious recognition I received for my work in media production. On April 6th, 2016, I was awarded four New England NATAS Student Production Awards: Music Video for White Teeth Teens, Writing for Excellence, Commercial for Excellence and Video Essay (Single Camera Only) for Close to 190,000. Winning four regional Student Production Awards was astounding and provided me self assurance that I was good enough to be recognized on a professional level.
Personally, the best experience of my media career thus far was not winning the National Student Production Award, but the feeling of knowing that hard work pays off. The audience sees the video essay as a clean, finished product, but they miss the cliché blood, sweat and tears that went into it. The award recognizes excellence in the television industry and to quote myself, excellence “is a quality that people appreciate because it is so hard to find, yet excellence is not found, it is built.”
This honor did not come with ease, and I give a lot of thanks to the people who pushed me to be the best Bethany I could be. Teacher Drew Furtado, friend Erick Sa, sister Marcie Gamelin and mother Adriana Fernandes are few who stand out to me. I am also thankful for organizations like the NATAS Student Production Awards and School Video News that recognize the potential of young people in media production.
To the future media production stars who are still working on their scripts at 2AM, I was in your place. My best advice to you, although I still have a lot to learn, is that the only person with your best interest in mind is yourself. You know yourself better than anyone else, so take your best quality, mine was being too stubborn to settle, and run with it. If you go the extra mile, despite rejection, you will realize that it is never crowded.
As a reminder for both yourself and myself, it’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.
Check out other videos by Bethany at vimeo.com/bethanyfernandes
Bethany Fernandes is a freshman at Quinnipiac University majoring in Film, Television and Media Arts with a minor in Management. She is part of the university's 3+1 program which will allow her to receive a master's in Interactive Media in four years. Hopefully you will read more about her in future issues of School Video News.