Media Arts Making Waves

Group of BLC students hodling award for Media Arts Student Production, Bethany Magazine

Photo Courtesy of Amanda Quist

Students who attended the Upper Midwest Chapter of NATAS (from left): Jacob Norris, Colin Neville, Joey Pasbrig, Noah Rittierodt, Alec Lade, and Mizha Overn.   

By Emeline Gullixson (’21) – Bethany Magazine – Spring/Summer 2023

Mankato, Minnesota, likely doesn’t come to mind
when thinking about media hubs across the country. But this past school year, Bethany’s Media Arts Department challenged that assumption, with student films being recognized at a regional and national level.

Media arts is an up-and-coming major at Bethany, receiving more interest and accolades each year. It has three areas of emphasis: video arts and broadcasting, motion graphics and animation, and photography. Though students may pick an emphasis, they are sure to get a taste of all aspects of media arts during their time at Bethany, including broadcasting, graphic design, working on film sets, communication courses, and more. 

“The philosophy of being able to creatively try everything is woven into the way we designed our programs,” said Amanda Quist, Associate Professor of Media Arts.

Students also have access to an excellent array of tools and software to help them develop their skills. “Our facility is one of the best ones in the Midwest. It’s a shining jewel on our campus. We have live production and post-production software, editing rooms, a computer lab, and studio. You’d be hard-pressed to find even a larger university that has what we have,” said Greg Vandermause, Production Studio Manager. 

“We trust students with a lot of responsibility. We give them unique professional opportunities, and we allow them to get involved, even in their freshman year,” said Quist. 

One such professional opportunity is the Minnesota State University (MSU) Maverick Hockey Production, where students are paid to broadcast, film, and edit Maverick hockey games. Junior Colin Neville has been grateful for this experience: “It’s just as valuable as a class. If you’re serious about media arts, you’re looking for stuff to do outside of the classroom.” 

Neville is involved in the digital side of the hockey broadcast, creating hype videos for social media, as well as occasionally working on short films.

The professors work closely with students to get their films into film festivals, helping them through the application process and paying any application fees. This past year, students produced films that were recognized on the regional and national level. Films are usually created through class projects, the Red Eye Film Festival, and through the Maverick hockey broadcast. 

The student film Lulu, written and directed by senior Mizha Overn, made waves this year. It screened at the Nosebleeds Film Fest in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in December, and at the End of the Road Film Festival in Ely, Minnesota, in February. 

That same month, Bethany students flew out to Las Vegas, where they received seven awards from the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) in the BEA Festival of Media Arts, an annual event. This was no small feat, as students were competing on the national level against hundreds of other schools. 

Out of 1,650 festival entries, Bethany received four Awards of Excellence. Three were in the Film and Video: Narrative category: The Man in the Yellow Shirt, A Rush at the Beginning, and Lulu. One was in the category of Sports–Video/Story Feature (Long): The Story of the 2022 Mason Cup Championship Game.

Bethany students also received three first place awards–The Story of the 2022 Mason Cup Championship Game in Sports–Video Sports Live Game Production; Esports Hype Video – The Wrath of the Vikings in Sports–Esports Coverage; and Minnesota State Hockey Hype Video in Sports–Promotional Video/Tease/PSA.

“That’s [BEA] really the feather in the cap that says, ‘We’re a credible performing media program,’” said Vandermause. 

Junior Ben Stelter was the cinematographer of The Story of the 2022 Mason Cup Championship Game. “It was amazing to get to tell that story through my camera, through my lens,” he said, also praising the cohesion of his whole team. A Media Arts major, Stelter primarily enjoys shooting sports through the MSU Hockey Broadcast, though he is also passionate about creating short films with his friends. 

On a regional level, Bethany received five Student Production Awards from the Upper Midwest Emmy® Chapter/Foundation in the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS). 

There were three winners associated with the Maverick Hockey broadcast: The Story of the 2022 Mason Cup Championship Game in the College–Sports Story or Segment category, 2022 CCHA Mason Cup Championship Game in the College-Live Sporting Event/Game category, and 2022 Hobey Baker Award Winner – Dryden McKay in the College–Editor category.

Two class projects also won awards: Lulu in the College–Fiction: Short Film category, and Educaytion in the College–Animation/Graphics/Special Effects category. 

Junior Noah Rittierodt was the director of 2022 CCHA Mason Cup Championship Game. Rittierodt has had much success in the Media Arts program, though he wasn’t sure initially it was the major he was going to pursue. “I didn’t have any [media arts] experience before coming to college,” he said, crediting professors and friends as being instrumental in his skills development. 

Movie poster of LULU, girl on the front, Bethany Magazine
Man in yellow shirt movie poster, Bethany Magazine

Promotional posters for some of the award winning films.

In April, students attended the Intercollegiate Film Festival at the Showplace ICON Theatre in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The student film Educaytion won Best Animation, the film A Rush at the Beginning won Best Narrative Fiction, and the film Lulu won Best of Show as well as People’s Choice/Audience Favorite.

“What the students have done in the past year or two is not easy. It’s not something that I want people to take for granted,” emphasized Quist, adding that the student culture is one where they are competitive and push each other to work hard, but still support one another.

Stelter said: “It seems that this year, we’ve represented the school well and taken home a lot of hardware. Everyone who’s contributing is going to do big things. It’s a really exciting time to be in the Media Arts program at Bethany.” 

Media arts is a growing industry, and Bethany alumni are comfortably making their place in it. Alumni have gone to work for the NFL, the Super Bowl, Netflix, ESPN, and Google. They work in graphic design, make documentaries, freelance, and start their own businesses. Though some have stayed in the Midwest, others have ventured to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and other places around the country. 

Still, alumni are happy to lend their support to current Bethany media arts students, facilitating job shadowing, offering expert guidance, and even helping graduates secure jobs. 

“I’ve been so impressed with how eager they [alumni] are to be involved and help support and inspire these next groups of graduates,” said Quist. 

With the year they’ve had, the media arts momentum is sure to continue.