“Cake Off!”

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I apologize for the post delay. Senior year has been extremely busy. Not only am I a full-time student, but I also have two internships. It’s been a great experience and I am learning so much. Needless to say, free time is certainly lacking. However, I do want to share with my readers a video I produced last semester for my “Introduction to Production” class. I’m very proud of the final product, a video that took a full semester of careful thought and planning to produce. My love of baking and film combine to form my video titled “Cake Off!”

I hope you enjoy and feel free to leave me comments (it is actually the preferred method)!

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Hosting Duke’s “Office Hours”

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Like I’ve written in the past, I’m continually amazed at the type of productions that go on at Duke University. Believe it or not, I was able to host Duke’s weekly talk show called “Office Hours” on November 17, 2011. “Office Hours” is streamed live on UStream every week Thursdays at noon and then uploaded to YouTube to be viewed at one’s convenience. “Office Hours” is mostly promoted through Duke Alumni Association, as well as Duke Media Services, but the audience is expanding week by week. Just as the name suggests, the purpose of “Office Hours” is to let students, faculty, alumni and parents listen to conversations that are taking place on Duke’s campus. Viewers can send in questions to be part of the conversation. The idea of my involvement with the show has been in development for many months and started at the beginning of the school year. I initially applied for a social media internship and though I didn’t get the internship, my interviewer referred me to more production-based work with the show “Office Hours.” I’ve gotten to know the staff very well and have watched the past five shows grow into its own audience and style. The episodes usually have a different interviewer and each interviewee brings to the table his/her own flair and knowledge. Afterall, each episode features an important, topical subject. Each week brings a new host and new guests. On my episode, I brought the student voice to the show and I hope that I represented my colleagues fairly.

The topic I dealt with on “Office Hours” was not a light topic. “Campus Mental Health Issues” are serious issues and it is real and prominent. I talked with Dr. Glass, who is the Assistant Director of Outreach and Programming for Duke’s Counseling and Psychological Services (also known as CAPS), throughout the show. The end result is posted below, and though I am extrememly satisfied with it, I spent many hours researching and gearing up for the show. I had two sessions with producers from the show to roleplay the conversation and tweak my script. However, once you sit down in the hosting chair – all script notes fly out of the window. As soon as the show began, my adrenaline overcame by body and all that was left was Dr. Glass and myself. Though I stumbled on my words here and there, I felt I did pretty well for my first time hosting a live long-form talk show (and it’s not an easy task)!

I learned a lot about mental health for college students while I was preparing for this conversation. A common misconception is that everyone is happy here at Duke, at least that’s what it looks like to outsiders. Students cheer on their beloved Blue Devils in Cameron, walk through the beautiful Duke Gardens, converse with fellow students with meaningful dialogue. Though this sounds ideal, this is unfortunately not the case for much of the student population. For example, in a recent study, the American Psychological Association reported a rise in depression and mental illnesses on college campuses. The percentage of students with moderate to severe depression has gone up from 34 to 41 percent in the past 10 years. The American College Health Association assessed colleges across campuses and published shocking statistics such as over the last 12 months, 26.9% of males and 33.3% of females felt so depressed that it was difficult to function and “40.5% of males and 56% of females felt overwhelming anxiety. At Duke, it’s an even more crazed environment, and the situation is often amplified.

Many students at Duke feel they have to follow this Duke mentality of “work hard, play hard” which is mentioned in the upcoming Duke Magazine’s November/December cover story titled “Pressures Beneath the Surface.” Many students believe everyone else is succeeding at balancing their academic and social life, while doing so effortlessly. However, Bridget Booher writes in her article, that in reality, many students feel alone at Duke and experience periods of isolation and this is actually the majority of the population (called the marginalized majority). The current generation of students often experiences a strong fear of failure. We hold ourselves to such high standards and create these ideal expectations because everyone else seems to be doing the same thing at Duke. This fear can turn into either self controlling behaviors (such as eating disorders) or avoidance (which can lead to alcohol abuse or other issues). Dr. Glass hits on these subjects throughout the interview.

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the conversation, but we talked about some pretty serious and meaningful topics. Instead of going into more depth, I urge you to check out “Campus Mental Health Issues” that was presented on “Office Hours” this past week.

New Boyz Plays a Game with Me!

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 The New Boyz performed at Duke’s “Heat Wave” concert at the beginning of the school year. Since I am the Entertainment Producer for Duke Student Broadcasting I jumped on the opportunity to talk with the explosive music duo New Boyz (comprised of Ben J and Legacy). Luckily, I had seen their performance on “America’s Got Talent” and knew of their music for some time, but as any interviewer should do, I heavily prepared for my interview with the duo. After their YouTube video for “You’re A Jerk” went viral in 2009 (warning uncensored version), the duo released their debut album titled “Skinny Jeanz and a Mic.” Fast forward to 2011, New Boyz are still going strong blending their hip hop roots with different musical genres such as electro, R&B and alternative rock. Their sophomore album came out May 17, 2011 and is titled “Too Cool Too Care.” Their second single off that album “Backseat” has sold over 1 million digital copies to date and became the duo’s third top forty hit. Now more popular than ever, “Better With The Lights Off” featuring Chris Brown is blowing up the music scene everywhere.

After waiting for over 5 hours for my interview, I walked into the green room nervous and excited to meet the duo. The New Boyz were very friendly and open and graciously waited while my partner and I set up the equipment. Part of New Boyz group’s motto is: New Boyz do new things. Therefore, I decided to be creative with my interview with the group. Luckily, they were receptive of my interview surprise and you can see for yourself:

The Show Will Go On Rain or Shine…Delta Rae Music Video

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Though Durham isn’t exactly know for its film and television, the growing city continues to surprise me with all the amazing opportunities that arise. On September 17, award-winning director Lawrence Chen (Duke c/o 2008), Duke’s own cinematographer Steve Milligan and Freewater productions produced Delta Rae’s first music video. I was fortunate enough to tag along on set and experience my first ever music video production. At this point I can’t reveal specifics of the shoot, but I can tell you that the music video featured Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River” . The music video was shot in the woods of the historical Duke Homestead. Though it wasn’t as creepy of a location as you may think, it was raining, freezing and uncomfortable outside. However, in the words of showbiz, the show must go on!

I learned a lot on set of the music video working as a production assistant. Now I’ve always been a fan of music videos. I grew up watching MTV’s “Making the Video” and today I always strive to learn behind-the-scenes information on music video set and productions. This shoot was a dream come true for me to actually experience the music video shoot from bare grounds to a dressed set. I learned about all the little details the shows and publicists leave out. For instance, because of the rain we all had to make sure the outlets stayed dry at all times and the lights remain covered. We were also using a generator and had to ensure that stayed dry underneath a tent (which had to be aesthetically covered by trees). Generators also require gasoline, so I had to run out and purchase more for the shoot. Safety is most important on set and these are the little details a production assistant must take care of in order to ensure a safe environment for all.

There was an extremely large group of extras on set and one of my roles was to ensure the extras were being taken care of (fed, hydrated, as well as safe). The dancers had to do numerous takes time and time again. One of my friends, Spencer Paez, was in the ensemble and I asked him how he felt the music video shoot went. Spencer wrote to me, “In this sort of performance it’s important to remember that the dancing is not the focus. Our part was supportive of Delta Rae’s. I had worked on film sets before this, so I was used to a lot of what went on and variations of other things. But I was reminded of the importance of meticulous preparation and a positive attitude. The corrections, adjustments and number of takes all require these two elements.”

This is the type of experience I yearn for, the type of experience that calls for a large crew, ensemble, set and requires extreme effort. It’s a beautiful thing when all elements of production blend together on a project. The hard work on the camera operator, the director, the creative director, the production assistant, the cast and ensemble (and more) merge to make a masterpiece (hopefully). I am sure the shoot will result in an amazing music video. I am so thankful I was able to be a part of such an extraordinary shoot.

Till next time,

Danielle Genet