To Shoot Anthropology Film Crew Travels 60,000 Miles

By Wright, Warren; Eberhardt, Thom | American Cinematographer, September 1974 | Go to article overview

To Shoot Anthropology Film Crew Travels 60,000 Miles


Wright, Warren, Eberhardt, Thom, American Cinematographer


Thirty half-hour programs to comprise a three-credit college course send film-makers all over North America and to 21 foreign countries

Public television has ghosts. There is the ghost of educational television past, and the ghost of public broadcasting present. The former was most often characterized by its tendency to originate "educational programs" which went by names like "GOOD MORNING SEMESTER".

These shows usually featured a verbally facile teacher who either lectured or chatted with other educators. For graphics, the teacher punctuated his talk with charts and diagrams. Occasionally, he turned his back to the camera and wrote on a chalkboard.

Mercifully, that format has pretty much given way to the ghost of public broadcasting present. There are 230 public broadcasting stations (PBS) in the United States today. Most of these stations occupy their prime time with excellent programs provided by PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and various other syndicators, with BBC probably the best known. Many do a notable job with news and documentaries of local interest. But when it comes to instructional television, most public broadcasting stations will still go back to the talk show and chalkboard format.

At KOCE-TV 50 we believe that we are representative of public broadcasting's future. Our film department originates news and documentaries of local interest. However, our larger mission is to produce film for instructional television. By doing this, we help the Coast Community College District in Orange County, California, to extend its reach into thousands of homes every day.

That was one of the major motivations for the organization of KOCE-TV 50 by the community college district in 1970. Its trustees felt that instructional television was an ideal way to bring advanced education to people who couldn't attend classes on campus. It also was a practical way for the community college district to continue to grow without overburdening its facilities or faculty.

We use our own television studio, located on the Golden West Community College campus in Huntington Beach, California, to produce interviews, lectures and demonstrations which can best be done that way. We also have the equipment and facilities there for editing and mixing film and tape and for transferring film to tape.

The job of our film crews is to take students and other viewers to places and people beyond the normal reach of the TV studio. For example, we recently completed shooting and editing 125,000 feet of color film for inclusion in a three-credit college course in cultural anthropology. Entitled "DIMENSIONS IN CULTURES" this course has been divided into 30 half-hour programs. These are repeated two to three evenings weekly. The repeat shows give students an opportunity to review or make up TV classes that they might have missed.

KOCE-TV 50 began programming "DIMENSIONS IN CULTURES" during the spring semester of 1974. The programs are also on cassettes, which are available at a campus library for makeup, review, and independent study.

The concept for "DIMENSIONS IN CULTURES" was introduced to us late in 1970 by Dr. Dwayne Merry, a professor in the department of anthropology at Orange Coast College-one of the community colleges in our district. His premise was that the constrictions of the classroom, and the restricted global travel and personal experiences of many instructors, considerably narrowed the scope of a survey course in cultural anthropology. The exciting educational possibilities of such a project captured the imagination of Don Gerdts, Director of Operations and Production for KOCE-TV 50.

It was agreed that the next best thing to taking thousands of students on field trips all over the world every semester, where they could conduct personal interviews with scores of noted anthropologists, was using a mobile film crew to bring the anthropologist's world to the student.

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To Shoot Anthropology Film Crew Travels 60,000 Miles
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