Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Mass Media is using monitors from Marshall Electronics for its curriculum as well as for its broadcasts, which include telecasts for the local CW and Fox affiliates, and for streaming of various sporting events. We got an exclusive interview with Dr. Jim Dufek, Professor, TV & Film Operations Manager, SETV Production Director, Dept. of Mass Media at Southeast Missouri State University.
PH: What kind of college sports productions do you cover?
Jim Dufek: Southeast Missouri State University is part of the athletic Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). The staff and students in the department of Mass Media cover about 100 sporting events every academic year – August thru May (soccer, volleyball, football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, softball, baseball and various athletic banquets, etc.). All of these events are streamed live on the OVC Digital Network.
PH: Do you do other productions for the school as well?
Jim Dufek: Southeast Missouri State University contracts with the local CBS/CW affiliate (KFVS and WQWQ – 83rd DMA) and provides programming daily to be broadcast every morning. The faculty and students produce a variety of programming that covers news, sports, issue of disability and diversity, cultural arts, politics and public affairs.
We produce four 30-minute programs (Cape Chronicle, Independently Speaking, Focus on Southeast and River Tales) that students produce and direct. We also produce and stream live (and/or record live-on-tape) a variety of lectures, symphonies, musicals, operas, plays, commencements and more. In addition to all the broadcast and Internet programming, students are required to work with a client in their senior year and produce (from script-to-screen) a program that will be used for educational, instructional or promotional purposes, i.e., making a “how-to” video for the HR division of the local United Way, or a “what-to-do” video for the state Emergency Response Team in case of a catastrophic event.
We also host the annual Fault Line Film Festival that has entries from around the country and our students are required to produce and submit a short film as part of the curriculum in their film courses. Students also volunteer their skills for various community needs. We have produced over 50 interviews for the Missouri Veterans Historical Project, which interviews veterans from all foreign wars (WWII to the Iraq conflict). These interviews are transcribed for historians for the Missouri State Historical Society and become part of the Library of Congress. It’s an honor to provide this service since we are recording history and the students enjoy the productions.
PH: Is covering college sports any different than covering a pro game?
Jim Dufek: Yes! Every game, every event, every production has a new crew that works the sporting event. It takes time to prepare each crew and the event is live so there are no second takes. By the time the academic year is over, the students have become quite proficient at the many different events — but then they graduate, and we start over with a new crew. That’s our job, and there are no complaints, but unlike pro productions, where the crew is the same each week and the quality is excellent, we work on every event trying to get better with composition, camera production, technical directing, audio acquisition, etc. So, by the time they become “great,” they graduate.
PH: Do you ever hire professionals? Or is the crew typically made up of all students?
Jim Dufek: All of our productions have at least one faculty or staff member, and the rest of the crew members are students (freshman thru seniors). No professional talent is hired for any of the productions. Depending on the event, we will have a crew with the minimum of eight but as large as 14 students.
PH: Do you just broadcast or stream live at the same time?
Jim Dufek: All of our sporting events, cultural arts, commencements and various lectures are streamed live. Our broadcast programming is recorded live-on-tape and then aired at a later date.
PH: What is the biggest production you have done?
Jim Dufek: If you mean biggest as in “audience” then the TEDx event, some of the commencements are popular, sports (basketball) and the symphonies. If you mean biggest as in “this is a big deal” then maybe the Solar Eclipse that we streamed live. We had followers from all over the world. That was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
PH: Any horror stories to share?
Jim Dufek: I’m always concerned about safety. The staff and students are very attuned to their jobs but I also worry about the fans, spectators and athletes. We’re aware of our surroundings and what we must do but students have been knocked over by an errant football in practice; a student overheated during the eclipse (117 degrees on the field that day) and the occasional cable is torn or cut, and we go dark for a short time. But nothing catastrophic.
PH: What's your best success story?
Jim Dufek: Our students have won national awards for their work (news, sports, instructional video, etc.) and they’ve worked as production assistants on two big movies that were shot here in Cape Girardeau, Killshot and Gone Girl, which led to other gigs around the country.
Most recently some of our students shot some major b-roll for an ABC 20/20 episode for Diane Sawyer on the #MeToo movement. We received a glowing letter from the producer of the program:
“I just wanted to send a belated thanks to you and your tremendously talented students. In my 20 years of working at ABC, rarely have I seen such creative camerawork. From the early morning drone shots of the Dexter water tower to the colorful graffiti on moving trains, I was simply blown away.”
I was very proud of their work and for their work ethic. A recent grad won an Emmy as a producer of the Judge Joe Brown program; another won an Emmy as an editor for ESPN Game Day; and of course, we are always bragging on Cedric the Entertainer who graduated from here in the mid-80’s. I’m working with him to return next year for our Fault Line Film Festival.
PH: How critical are your monitors in your production scheme?
Jim Dufek: Our tools are as important to our productions as are the tools for a carpenter when she builds something, or to surgeon when she is saving a life. You get what you pay for. The Marshall monitors allow us to perfect our productions with quality composition, lighting, framing and white balance. Our students produce short films, programming for broadcast television, instructional videos and various academic and sporting events. The Marshall monitors are a significant component that makes our job as professors easier to teach, to produce and to go live!