Film Students ACT Happy

Published: Apr 17, 2014
The Animal Coalition of Tampa provides non-lethal solutions to the overpopulation of companion animals through its low-cost spay and neuter medical clinic.
The Animal Coalition of Tampa provides non-lethal solutions to the overpopulation of companion animals through its low-cost spay and neuter medical clinic.
The UT dance crew D.I.M.E. People provide some serious groove for the video.
The UT dance crew D.I.M.E. People provide some serious groove for the video.
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Getting a dog to sit still for a close-up camera shot comes with its challenges, said Erin O'Brien ’14, a film and media arts major. But they are challenges gladly welcomed.

“Who doesn't want to listen to ‘Happy’ by Pharrell and play with dogs, cats and cameras all day?” said O’Brien of South Windsor, CT. “That sounds like a perfect day to me.”

O’Brien was among seven students helping capture video for a piece requested by the Animal Coalition of Tampa, which wanted to join the trend of music videos to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.”

Karen Hubby, the development office manager at the coalition, wanted a way to thank the organization’s volunteers, clients and sponsors for helping them reach a milestone – the nonprofit’s eighth year of service providing 80,000 spay and neuter surgeries.

“This is huge as it has made an impact on the number of animals being needlessly euthanized due to overpopulation in our shelters,” said Hubby.

The Animal Coalition of Tampa provides non-lethal solutions to the overpopulation of companion animals through its low-cost spay and neuter medical clinic. UT students regularly volunteer at the center, which is close to campus. The collaboration with the film students seemed a natural fit.

 

“I just love animals, and Tampa has a serious problem with strays,” said Aaron Walker, an assistant professor of communication who spearheaded the project, organizing multiple group schedules, mentoring students and spending a couple hours editing the footage together. “I felt like this was a strong service project for me, and without a doubt it had immediate practical applications for the students.”

From using a Glidecam to experimenting with different sets of lenses to even organizing and communicating with on-screen talent and improvising decisions on set, the opportunities were hands-on.

“This was an interesting experience for me to use different technology,” said Jamie Denko ’14 of Proctor, VT, of the Glidecam, a camera stabilization system that allows the user to walk with a camera and still get a smooth image.

For O’Brien, the experience made her in-class lectures come to life.

“For me this experience was an extension of my film classes,” O’Brien said. “I learned how to use equipment that I probably wouldn't have had the chance to use in class.”

Filming took place over the course of March and the final product was finished in time for the coalition’s April 5 fundraiser.

“The impact Professor Walker and his students made is priceless,” said Hubby. “The outcome of this video conveyed a labor of love. I couldn't have asked for anything better.” 

UPDATE: On Saturday, April 19, the Animal Coalition suffered a fire believed to be set by an arsonist. Read the full story in the Tampa Bay Times.

Have a story idea? Contact Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer 
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