By Alexandra Simon ‘17

CROWNSVILLE, Md. (Sept. 27) – With a dozen cameras, 8 alumni coaches, 7 undergraduate students, 4 GoPros, one masters student, a brand-new 360 camera and too many fried Oreos to count, the 7th ViewFinder team spent a long weekend finding unique stories to tell at the Anne Arundel County Fair.   The students in the innovative Advanced Video Storytelling class continued the tradition of teamwork and partnerships.

The action packed visits to the fair were extra special because we had the opportunity to be coached by numerous Merrill College and ViewFinder alumni. Marissa Para (WSET-TV), Alexander Glass (Early Light Media), Alexandra T. Cruz (formerly of Snapchat), Alanna Delfino (WBFF FOX 45), Brianna Hurwitz (WHAG), Tim Drummond (522 Productions), Drew Snadecki (WBFF FOX 45), and Christine Lien (WBFF FOX 45) came to Crownsville to support us through our pilot project. The volunteer coaches came from different corners of Maryland, Virginia and New York to share their time and tips with us.

The “Faces of the Fair” stories are the first of two video journalism projects the ViewFinder team will create this semester as part of PALS – the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability.  PALS is “a campus wide initiative that allows UMD students to get out of the classroom and help solve real world problems with Maryland communities.”

The Anne Arundel County Fair is known for it’s livestock competitions, attractions, and family fun. We met the Poultry Princess, a self-proclaimed tractor pulling “Dirt Diva,” a family-run food truck, friendly camels, and lots of other characters over the course of four days. In between shooting stories the team enjoyed visiting with baby goats and sampled some delicious food, including fried Oreos.

Team members collaborated on several projects, including on a piece about pig racing produced by Hannah Burton and Mackenzie Happe. It took half a day and five cameras to bring the piece together, and is shaping up to be a show favorite.

To tell these stories, Ryan Eskalis had the opportunity to test Merrill’s new 360 camera to capture the fair from all angles, and several of our stories used GoPro cameras. These innovative tools challenged us, and advanced our storytelling and captured some incredible, and normally unseen viewpoints, of the fair.

Special thanks to our faculty mentor and advisor Bethany Swain and again, our ViewFinder coaches for spending the better part of their weekends working with us. The pieces were released on the Capital Gazette in an online “Face of the Fair” series.

ViewVinder - Anne Arundel County Fair. Photos by Bethany Swain.

Susann Shin shoots video for her story about the Anne Arundel County camel ride.

ViewVinder - Anne Arundel County Fair. Photos by Bethany Swain.

Karen Castillo with the fair queen; Alex Glass ’14 with Mya Green; The 360 Video rig. All photos by Bethany Swain.