Tag Archives: graduate school

Creating Video Campaigns

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

Have you ever wondered what goes into a video advertising campaign? Ever wanted to be behind-the-scenes of the creative process from idea to execution? You can do all of this in CM 518, a class called Creating Video Campaigns. This fall, Randy Hackett, a video content director, creative consultant and adjunct professor at BU,will teach students the craft of creating engaging video content. This includes everything from conceptual techniques, to the story and the use of camera and music.

“Video is such a ubiquitous presence in marketing communications,” Hackett says. “Everyone has to learn about it, not only how to utilize it from a production and practical standpoint but what makes it effective from a narrative, storytelling, and communication standpoint.” Although the class is generally geared towards advertising students, it is available to anyone interested in creative production. According to Hackett, the class would benefit any student in a communications discipline and is an “idea muscle flexing course” for people in all fields of study.

Non-profits, corporations, institutions, ad agencies, PR firms, media outlets, blogs and new business ventures have begun relying increasingly on video content.“Every website has a video now,” Hackett says. “It’s kind of the ‘show me’ generation. People don’t have as much time to read – they want to be entertained and they want their information teed up for them.”

Although the class is not technical and stops at actual film production, it includes everything up to that point: developing storyboards, recommending suppliers, working with sound design, and everything in between. Hackett treats the class like a small agency, choosing real companies that might not have a significant video presence or are in need of a video campaign for a specific scenario. Students work in teams to develop the creative components, which are presented in-house and then in a client presentation.

Hackett’s real world work makes the class more dynamic as well. This year, he directed a shoot with Tae Bo guru Billy Blanks, a national commercial his students were able to observe on-set. Watch the Brother Printers commercial with Billy Blanks here.“


One of the advantages of the program at COM is a lot of professors have actual real life ongoing projects,” Hackett says. “It makes it feel a little bit more alive.” For graduate students interested in taking the class, the pre-requisites for Creating Video Campaigns are: CM 708 (Principles and Practices of Advertising), CM 707 (Writing for Multimedia), and CM 717 (Fundamentals of Creative Development).

Are you in advertising or another field and thinking Creating Video Campaigns might be for you? Have you taken the class? What skills did you learn?


Picture from: RandyHackett.com

One semester down, two to go! I can do this! Right?

By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

Last semester was definitely one for the books.  I dove head first into grad school and faced the roaring currents head-on.  But after a well-deserved (and much needed) winter break, I’m already back in the thick of it.  Chapters and chapters of reading seem to be piling up faster than I can even order my books.  And yet, something feels different this semester.

For one thing, I finally feel like I’ve got this whole “balance” thing down (even though sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy trying to get all my work done and actually have a life on the side).  When I take a second to stop and think about it though, I know I’m ten times more confident this semester than the last one.

Yes, the workload is still just as intense, if not more. but this time I know how to manage it better.  I know how to prioritize and organize my homework so I’m not overwhelmed.  And I know that if I don’t read every single word of every single assigned reading, it’s ok! Professors care more about understanding the big picture than memorizing and regurgitating minute details.

As much as I may feel more confident and ready to take on a new semester of grad school, I know the stress will still build up.  It’s inevitable when you’re in grad school because frankly, it comes with the territory.  You knowingly sign up for a rigorous academic curriculum and convince yourself that it’ll be just like undergrad.  Unfortunately, it’s not, and you’re still going to forget to complete an assignment or cram the night before an exam.

Again, that’s ok! So what if I get too busy and can’t study for a test as much as I’d like to? And yes, I’m repeating that as much for you as I am for me.  Because even though I can say that it’s okay to screw up every once in a while, I know I inevitably will still stress about it.  Guess I’ll just have to click back to this post if I start to head towards a mental breakdown for a little encouragement.

Because I’ve done it once, and I can do it again. Right? Right.



A Laboratory for Visual Storytelling: COM’s New Cinema and Media Production MFA

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

We hear a lot at COM about the shifting media landscape. Every day, new technological advances are making it possible for us to produce and consume media in ways we never have before. Keeping up with technology is essential, but no matter what industry you’re in, one thing is clear: telling a compelling story is at the core of everything we do. COM’s newly re-launched MFA in Cinema and Media Production, spawned out of this philosophy, provides an advanced degree for students interested in taking film beyond its fundamentals and honing their storytelling skills.

“What we have come to realize is students now are much more technically sophisticated,” says Jan Egleson, Associate Professor of the Practice in Film & Television. “In the old days, film school’s function was to teach people arcane technology. Students today are much more adept at using equipment but they still have the difficulty of telling stories. That’s where we’ve been pushing the program.” Though the new MFA does also involve technical skills, they mainly function as support tools for the film’s overall objective. “The focus is storytelling and the skills of fiction film-making,” Egleson says. “You’re working with actors, breaking down scenes, and structuring a story to convey it visually.”


Prospective candidates for the program, which launches in Fall 2015, are required to come in with a baseline of both technical and storytelling skills. Whether they’ve learned it on their own or through an undergraduate film program, they must demonstrate they’ve already mastered the basics to apply to the films they’ll work on during the course of their MFA. When accepted, students already know their designated film making role, whether it be director, producer, or cinematographer. This fall, three producers, three cinematographers, and six directors will join the crew. Before first semester, students are asked to pitch three film ideas, which are continually honed and vetted until arriving on one film concept that will be the focus for the duration of the program.

As the film landscape continuously changes, so do the types of films students will work on. “We’re platform agnostic,” Egleson says. “If you come in and say I want to make a web series – ten, 10-minute webisodes – you can do that. If you want to make a 30 minute film, that works. As long as you can convince us of the clarity of your vision we don’t care what the platform is. That’s the shift.” If you’re dead set on working towards a full length film, you might work on a section of it or a shorter version, says Egleson, which is how many full length features get their start.

CMPBlogPhoto4The new Cinema and Media Production MFA will continue its adaptive response to the new world after the switchover from conventional film to digital media. “Once that happens, it becomes very apparent to everybody that the focus needs to shift to the ideas behind this stuff. It’s very liberating,” Egleson says. “It means we can now be a laboratory for visual storytelling.”

Are you excited about the new face of the MFA in Cinema Media Production or have you thought about applying? Do you think it will support the changing film making landscape? Learn more here.

Spring ’15; all that’s new this semester

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

The Fall 2014 semester seems like another time and place, a lifetime ago. I had just transferred over from PR and was starting an entirely new course load and journey into journalism. I was pretty overwhelmed by the transition and trying to take on everything at a quicker pace than other first semester journalism students, since I knew I would only have a year to accomplish everything they would be doing in a year and a half. Last semester I wrote for this blog, the features department at The Daily Free Press, a Boston-based online food magazine called Simmer, and freelanced for BU’s online magazine The Quad.

Besides that, I was searching for an internship for the spring; I knew that would be critical to me entering the workforce come graduation in May ’15. I fortuitously ended up with an internship with Boston magazine this semester, and am already enjoying it. Since my preferred topic and medium is lifestyle magazine writing, I couldn’t be happier. I am doing a lot of fact-checking, which allows me to dig deep into how sources were gathered and the information given. Although it can be painstaking, I’m learning a lot about the newsgathering process and topics I knew nothing about.

On Feb. 24, my first article will be published in Boston HOME. It is a piece on an artist and her gouache paintings. If you know what that means, I salute you. I didn’t before I wrote the article. I’m hoping I will get to write many more over the course of the semester. I’m also an editor of the Spotlight section of The Daily Free Press. Editing has really given me the opportunity to keep on top of AP style as well as keep up with the news cycle. Having to pitch several stories every week keeps me constantly on the lookout for what’s coming up on the horizon and what is newsworthy.

This semester is going to be a whirlwind, especially once the thesis gets off the ground. I think the hardest part about starting it will be deciding on a topic. I’m hoping some of my professors will be able to help, and I’ll aim to do a print series (with some multimedia) on some aspect of agriculture or the fishing industry. The one thing I’ve learned from all the craziness is the more involved you are with everything around you, the more you are able to connect the dots. Whether you’re interviewing a professor, chef, biologist, business owner, or Miss USA, you can learn from each one something that will surprisingly apply to something else you are doing.

IMG_2908Michelle Marino at her desk at the Boston magazine office

This is especially true when it comes to networking. I went to a COM networking event last semester and met the Food Editor of Boston magazine. At my internship, I am sitting right behind her and get insight into what she’s working on every day. Here’s to a great Spring 2015 semester!


Remembering David Carr, COM Professor and NY Times columnist

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

As the journalism community grieved the loss of David Carr last evening, students at COM had to put emotions aside and do what they are being trained to do in the face of such a happening; report.

The recent couple weeks have been unfortunate for the world of journalism; the killing of two Japanese journalists by ISIS, Jon Stewart stepping down from the daily show, Bob Simon of CBS’s 60 Minutes passing away and last evening, David Carr.To us at COM, he was not just another journalist. He was one of our professors, one of us.

Within minutes of hearing the news about his death though, students at the Boston University News Service (BUNS) and The Daily Free Press sprung in to action.

“Bulletin: There’s chatter on Twitter that David Carr has died. We need to confirm or debunk this. If it’s true, we need to report. If it’s not true we need to report how this happened.” posted Prof. Michelle Johnson on the Facebook page for BUNS contributors.

Within an hour of her posting, there were over a 100 responses in the comments section. Students had reached out to current professors, the Dean, students taking his class this semester and others who had taken it previously. The obituary that came out from this teamwork can be found on the BUNS website.

Jamie Bologna, a recent COM grad, who had taken Carr’s class last semester,tweeted about the loss.


Jamie Bologna’s tweets from the night of 12th Feb, ’15

Prim Chuwiruch who took his course, Press Play, in the fall of 2014 said, “David Carr went beyond being just a professor. He was a mentor and a friend in times when he didn’t need to be, but he did anyways.”This is what the syllabus for his course Press Play looked like. I’m a second semester grad student at BU and I’ve not seen a syllabus from any other course look anything like this.

The Daily Free Press put together a page overnight dedicated to the late professor.  COM alumni Megan Turchi and Justine Hofherr who both took his class wrote this piece for Boston.com. More coverage on the life of Carr and his demise will be up on BU News Service over the next couple days.

Despite being sad for the loss COM has suffered, I’m honestly grateful for the experience of working in a newsroom with such great teams. These are essential lessons that we learn for our lives as journalists. And I’m glad I’m learning it here at COM.


(Featured image courtesy: BUNS)