The hustle and bustle of broadcast news is enough work to make even the most seasoned professional’s head spin. Dodge College students are no stranger to the task, though, as they air Chapman News every Friday at noon during the school year from Marion Knott Studios. However, most of the students working on the show may not realize what exactly goes into getting the production ready before they step foot on the sound stage.
Every Thursday afternoon, Pete Vander Pluym, Stage Manager for Marion Knott Studios, and Kyle Castellanet (BFA/Film Production ’15), a student stage assistant, go through the labor intensive task of getting the studio broadcast ready for the weekly show. From getting the backdrops into place to setting up steel rigs for additional equipment, the two of them work together like a well-oiled machine to get the job done. Though at the beginning of the semester, different students would rotate in and out to help, Vander Pluym and Castellanet have hit a groove together, and can complete the task in under 45 minutes. In addition to the newscast on Friday afternoons, a news anchoring class also uses the set every Thursday at 4PM, so they try to have everything done well before then.
“In the past, the students doing the show would be the ones setting it up themselves. But, over time, I was able to hire more stage assistants, so the job has fallen to us to get it up and running,” said Vander Pluym, who has been with Dodge College since 2000. In addition to being the Stage Manager, he also teaches some classes that show students how to use the tools in his workshop, in order to construct their own sets, and how to use the sound stages themselves.
Castellenet has been working for Pete since his Freshman year.
“I’ve done a lot of carpentry in the past, but never for film and TV sets, so there has been a lot to learn. Things like safety, set protocols, and even unions; just things you might take for granted. Pete’s been a great teacher, and really helped me appreciate all the aspects behind the camera,” Castellanet said.
When asked if they thought students from Chapman News should be involved in setting up the stage, Castellanet, while lifting a steel support into place, answered with a resounding “YES!” from across the studio. However, Vander Pluym wasn’t so sure.
“I like it much better when I know I have someone to count on every week, like Kyle, and we can get it done quickly and efficiently. They focus on putting on a great show, so I have no problem focusing on getting it ready for them.”