Junior Justin Lucas lands national telecommunications scholarship
Oct. 2, 2007
By Anita Martin
Justin Lucas steps gingerly over rotted wood and rusted nails, hoisting heavy camera equipment and mentally counting the crew around him. It's almost 8 a.m. on a summer Saturday, and Lucas is shooting a music video in a dilapidated building for Columbus band The Kraze. He'll be there until about midnight, and tomorrow, he'll wake before 7 a.m. for more.
This intensive schedule represents a typical weekend commitment for Lucas, an Ohio Honors Tutorial College telecommunications junior who, with a handful of friends he met freshman year, co-founded the production company White Crow Films about three years ago.
This year, Lucas' hard work is starting to pay off: he won the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation Scholarship, a telecommunications award of $5,000. The King Scholarship was awarded to roughly a dozen undergraduates this year.
"I was honestly surprised. This was the first national award I've gone for," Lucas says. "I was elated; I jumped out of my chair and ran around the house a little."
Lucas largely credits his efforts in White Crow Films with his recent success. The production company makes short films and videos for local clients, including various Ohio University departments and a theater group in Kent, Ohio. It also sends shorts to film competitions such as the Shoot Out contest, judged by the School of Telecommunications in the Scripps College of Communication, and the Insomnia Competition by Apple Inc. Last spring, the company tied for first place in the telecommunications category of the university's Research and Creative Activity Fair.
"That's been one of my greatest accomplishments: to build a production company from the ground up," Lucas says. "It takes a lot of time and a lot of board meetings, but we're working with highly motivated, highly competitive and highly creative people." They hope to this year make White Crow Films a limited liability company, an option for small businesses that offers more management flexibility.
The group gained inspiration from its peers in Ohio University's telecommunications program. When Lucas and his five White Crow co-founders were freshmen, they worked with Par-T-Com LLD, Ohio University's first student-operated limited liability production company. Inspired by their entrepreneurial peers, White Crow Films quickly grew. Lucas estimates that they have worked with at least 46 cast and crew members ranging from freshmen to graduate students of all different majors.
Lucas believes the enterprising spirit among telecommunications students stems from the caliber of instruction at Ohio University. "The class of faculty we've had to work with really pushes students," he says. "A lot of our professors come from very impressive backgrounds and are very well-connected in the industry."
One such professor, Director of Production Keith Newman, says that for too long, telecommunications schools have focused on the more glamorous aspects of production – the acting, directing and scriptwriting – but anyone who's seen the closing credits of a movie knows that production takes more than vision and talent alone.
"We try to emphasize that good ideas are a dime a dozen," he says. "Getting those ideas into the industry is where the business end of show business comes in. And with such a competitive field, our students are getting savvy to that."
Asked what defines Lucas as a student, Newman says without hesitation, "Justin cares."
"He's got a real sense of purpose. Some people just want to be in the entertainment business, but Justin's got a slightly different agenda," he says. "I think Justin's more interested in pro-social messaging – how to use this powerful medium to educate people and do positive things."
After graduation, Lucas wants to stay close to home while working in the field. He's already looking into video production opportunities with corporations and organizations in the Columbus area. But before he settles into his first job, he hopes to score an internship, maybe in Los Angeles, where he'll give himself a chance to dream big.
"Everyone goes to L.A. with a dream in their head," Lucas says. "Mine would be to write a screenplay for a trilogy of books called 'The Circle Trilogy.'" The trilogy, written by Ted Dekker, delivers an unlikely contrast of sci-fi action/suspense with Biblical undertones. "When I read the books, they were just so passionately written."
In the meantime, Lucas and his White Crow colleagues carry the torch of professional production, helping to establish entrepreneurial acumen as a growing tradition within Ohio University's School of Telecommunications.