OHIO’s High School Media Workshop gives students a glimpse of real-life media production

Teens hailing from Athens County and across the nation brought their creative ideas to life at the annual High School Media Workshop at Ohio University in July.  

This year’s High School Media Workshop welcomed 47 students to the Athens campus for four days and three nights of hands-on media activities. Participants came from as far away as California, Illinois, North Carolina, in addition to Ohio, and included students from grade 9 to rising first-year college students. 

 “This workshop is a great asset for students looking to be creators in a very demanding career field,” said Cecil Houser, an instructor in the School of Media Arts and Studies. “Ohio University's workshop by far gives students firsthand, nuts-and-bolts opportunities to hit the ground running.” 

This year marked the third year Andie Walla served as director of the High School Media Workshop. Walla serves as an associate professor of instruction in the School of Media Arts and Studies in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University. 

“Students were able to select their discipline when they registered for the workshop. Animation, Music Production and Technology, and Video Production were all offered this year,” said Walla. “Next year, we hope to be able to add Sound for Film to the course offerings as well.” 

High school students participate in the An instructor and participant set up camera equipment at the 2023 High School Media Workshop

Students worked in computer labs, studios, and on location while attending the overnight camp. OHIO faculty members and undergraduate student counselors taught students how to use technology and best practices of each discipline area. All students worked collaboratively on two projects, “Americano Love Story” and “Janus.”  

Animation students created opening and closing credit sequences for each film. Music production and technology students composed, recorded, mixed, and mastered numerous tracks to score each film. Video production students worked on location with local professional actors to produce the two short films. 

Current OHIO students invested their time and energy to ensure the workshop’s success. 

Walla explained, “Four days is not enough time to work on creative projects from scratch. There is a lot of prep work that goes into this. We must secure locations and actors before the students arrive. The HSMW staff creates two basic scripts to speed up the creative process. The students are given the chance to further develop their own ideas into the narrative during our first preproduction session. Starting Day Two, students break out into their respective disciplines.” 

This was Houser’s third year instructing video production students at the workshop. “I find working with the next generation of students invigorates my desire to share my education and professional experience to enhance opportunities for others,” stated Houser. 

Grace Palmatary, a fourth year Film major, returned to the HSMW staff. “I came back for a second year because it’s not only fun to work with the students but with OHIO faculty and my peers, too! My favorite part about working with the high school students was seeing their enthusiasm to learn and how open they were to new experiences. It’s also fun to see the raw talent people have before they even leave high school.” 

High school students use sound mixing equipment during the 2023 High School Media Workshop

“The student staff is essential to the success of the workshop. What they have learned in the classroom really shows as they work side by side with the high school students,” said Walla. “It surprised me how much I knew about production and could teach to others. The HSMW is a nice reminder of how far I’ve come since freshman year,” Palmatary remarked.  

Olivia Freeland, a third year Media Arts Production major, spent time with video production students. “My favorite part about working with the high school students was having a group with varying experience levels. Some of them were brand new to production and that allowed me to teach and guide them, while some of them were more experienced and helped teach each other. It was an amazing dynamic to be a part of!”  

“The high school media workshop did boost my confidence as a production student,” stated Lydia Smith, a third year Media Arts Production major. “I was still learning some terms and techniques during the experience via our group’s faculty instructor, but having to then explain what I meant to high school students helped me solidify that knowledge and think about problem-solving from different angles. Most importantly, I learned what leadership methods are most effective for running a set full of individuals who have only just met.” 

“Ohio University should feel especially proud to have students immersed in a workshop that provides an incredible setting for ideas to become reality and for education to be inspiring,” Houser said. 

On the last day, the two short films premiered. “This shows the students how much they accomplished in a brief period. It hopefully inspires them to keep creating at home,” according to Walla. “This year students put together impressive final projects to screen. Not only did they work hard to create good stories, but they exhibited the ambition to make the work look professional,” said Houser. 

The High School Media Workshop will be offered again in summer 2024 and is limited to 50 participants. Visit the website to register starting January 2024, or to learn more about the program

September 22, 2023
Staff reports