Students Cynthia Sinclair and Sky Bruno are making a splash in the media industry with the help of resources and experience gained in WCC’s new creative media program.
Last month, Sinclair received an offer to host her own show on ThinkTechHawaii.com focused on domestic violence awareness, women’s rights and gender issues. Bruno was named a 2018 Sundance Ingite Fellow, which will take him on an all-expenses paid trip the Sundance Film Festival next month plus provide him a year of industry mentoring and opportunities.
Both students took an introductory video journalism course last year with journalism instructor Kimberlee Bassford and said that the course gave them a solid foundation to start their careers.
“All the things that I learned in video journalism made a big difference … learning how to set up interviews and how to handle a camera,” Sinclair said. “I feel that I am well prepared for this amazing opportunity because of the things I learned in my creative media classes.”
Sinclair’s show, which she has named “Finding Respect in the Chaos,” came about after she was interviewed on a Nov. 15 ThinkTech Hawai‘i show about her recent study abroad trip. Sinclair traveled to 10 different countries last spring to compare domestic violence and child abuse treatment around the world, issues she has been passionate about throughout her life. She documented her findings and plans to edit the footage into a documentary. In her video journalism course last fall, she created a short documentary about the sexual abuse treatment center on O‘ahu.
She said one reason she believes ThinkTech Hawai‘i founder and CEO Jay Fidel offered her a host position on her own program was because “he was impressed by the short documentary that I made through the WCC creative media program.”
Her show will stream live every other Tuesday at 1 p.m. on the ThinkTechHawaii.com website. It will also be archived on the site. Her first show was on Dec. 1 and featured an interview with WCC on-site domestic violence counselor Chelsea Stewart from the Domestic Violence Action Center.
“It has been my dream and my main focus for years to show as many people as possible that there is hope and healing on the other side of the abuse,” Sinclair said.
As Sinclair prepares for being in front of the camera, Bruno’s ambition is behind the lens. He was one of just 15 young filmmakers chosen for the Sundance fellowship from a global crop of more than 800 applicants.
“I thought that it was a great opportunity, and it was free to enter,” Bruno said. “The only thing I had to do was submit a short film that answered the question, ‘What ignites you?ʻ Luckily, I had made two films while at Windward Community College that answered just that.”
In the video journalism course last spring, Bruno directed a short documentary, Shape, about local surfboard shapers Wade and Kerry Tokoro.
The film went on to screen in the Honolulu Surf Film Festival and the ʻOhina Short Film Showcase.
Bruno is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in creative media at UH Mānoa.
“Film is my way of speaking,” he said. “It’s my voice in the world that allows me to go beyond Hawai‘i. My kupuna have always told stories since the beginning of time through hula and mele. It was something that connected us to the heavens and also taught us lessons on how to live.”
Bruno sees himself continuing his career in film and eventually teaching and mentoring others.
“I was on this journey of attending UH for two years and trying to work my way into the industry, but with this Sundance fellowship and the connections I make, who knows where my path may go,” he said.
“All I know for certain is that I want to come back and teach the up-and-coming generations of filmmakers to find their voice and give them the opportunities that I was afforded.”
Since 2016, WCC has offered creative media courses in video journalism and video game design as well as related fields such as art and computer science. WCC’s creative media program receives funding from the University of Hawai‘i’s Academy for Creative Media System, which supports the development of creative media across all 10 campuses in the university system with the goal of creating a thriving global creative marketplace in the state.
“Students come out of the video journalism courses knowing how to use a video camera, microphones, lights and editing software,” said instructor Kimberlee Bassford, who is also chair of WCC’s creative media committee. “Having multiple skills is vital in today’s media work environment where employers are basically asking employees to do more with less.”
However, Bassford said that knowing the technical skills isn’t enough. What she tries to teach students is how to tell a story, which she said requires critical thinking and communication skills.
“They need to really think about what it is they want to say and how do they get others to care about what they’re saying,” she said. “Knowing how to do this effectively is an asset in any career field–and really, in life in general.”
The introductory video journalism course (CM/JOUR 120) will run in the spring on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30-1:35. No prior video production experience is necessary. To learn more about creative media at WCC, contact Bassford at kbassfor@hawaii.
by Eliana Christianson, Ka ‘Ohana Editor in Chief