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Lights, Camera, Education

MAPS Media Institiute shifts into high gear

Getting the shot: MAPS students produce documentary to air on PBS

By WHITNEY BERMES - Ravalli Republic

Setting up with two cameras and a boom mic, Ian Marquand walked into the Westview Center over and over and over again.

Some shots were soft on the focus. Other shots weren't zoomed out far enough. Others were just shaky.

But they wanted to get things just right. After all, what a group of MAPS Media Institute students were working on Wednesday after school will be broadcast across all of Montana.

The state will be getting a taste of what MAPS has to offer when its documentary - "After the Bell: Inside the MAPS Media Institute" - airs on PBS next month, hosted by Marquand, a MAPS instructor.

The 26-minute program will air April 16 at 5 p.m., again the next day at 10:30 a.m. and a third time on May 27 at 11:30 a.m.

Cody Tredik, a junior at Hamilton High School, was helping out on Wednesday's shoot.

"I'm what's called a grip. I'm the extra hand on set that plugs stuff in, carries things around, that sort of stuff," Tredik said.

This is Tredik's first year with MAPS. He is currently taking the film class. He said he's enjoyed his time working on "After the Bell."

"It's really fun and we're going to see it on PBS, which is really cool," Tredik said. "The payoff is getting to see it on TV."

The idea of putting together a look into the after-school program has been in the works for a couple of years, according to executive director Peter Rosten.

"Finally, this year we felt comfortable doing it," Rosten said.

A close to half-hour documentary isn't anything new for these students, Rosten said. They created a film for this year's Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, as well as another documentary on smoking that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control picked up and ran nationally, Rosten said.

"We've always done short-form and long-form. Some of it has been for local consumption, some for state and some for national," he said.

"After the Bell" will give a brief history of the MAPS Institute and present its business model, which is "professional instructors teaching kids," Rosten said.

The show will also take the audience through the institute's four curriculum sections.

Most importantly, the documentary will introduce viewers to the kids behind the scenes, showing examples of their course work and professional projects.

"The kids are driving the show in terms of the interviews and narrative," Rosten said. "We hope we can create the message that doing their own, personal (public service announcements) will transition into client-based work."

The project was given the go-ahead by PBS about a month ago, Rosten said. Since then, students started putting together the content as well as shooting promos for the show.

On Wednesday, a few students helped shoot wrap-arounds and interviews with Marquand and their fellow students.

Once everything has been shot, Rosten said it will move on to the editing process, where students will whittle away at the film, eventually getting it down to 26 minutes.

"We have to make some really hard decisions fast," Rosten said.

MAPS will deliver its final product to PBS a week before the documentary is set to air.