Lights, camera, action

District in the ‘spotlight’

Los Medanos College will be making its small screen debut in a commercial produced by Comcast set to broadcast districtwide sometime in mid-March.

“This television campaign is one of several strategies we have to increase the awareness of our college to our residents and futures students,” said LMC President Bob Kratochvil.

But LMC is not receiving special treatment. Its sister schools, Contra Costa College and Diablo Valley College, will also be the focus of their own commercials.

“Our shoot was done [Tuesday] and the other colleges will have separate shoots scheduled in the coming weeks,” explained Kratochvil adding that the first commercial released will actually “be a districtwide one, focusing on all three colleges [and] aired throughout the entire district’s service area.”

LMC Director of Marketing and Media Design Barbara Cella said the decision to advertise, which has been in the works for about a year, was a direct result of the drop in enrollment though out the district.

“There has been a lot of discussion about what we need to do to get the word out about what we offer, how successful our students are, and how our campuses have changed both with our new facilities and with our programs,” said Cella.

District staff, in conjunction with college marketing directors and student services administrators, researched many different approaches but finally determined making a commercial was the best bet.

“After looking at proposals from newspapers, online advertising firms including video, and television — we decided television advertising,” said Chapman adding that this was the medium they thought could really be put to work to promote the colleges. “We will not only have commercials on some major Comcast (and in July, ATT) channels, but it will also be used for online advertising, YouTube and our own website.”

LMC Senior Web Administrator Eloine Chapman, who worked on the project with Cella, said the filming included campus shots and footage of the many programs offered by the college.

“We [were] trying to get a broad spectrum of LMC to represent … for a thirty-second commercial,” said Chapman.

Those who were filmed were not paid actors, but members of the LMC community.

“Five alumni who are now working in their selected field were filmed,” said Cella. “We also used student models from drama classes and a few classified staff.”

She added that a lucky few who were in the vicinity at the time were invited when they needed another model.

“They would be in the quad acting like students, because that’s what students do,” said Chapman.

But Chapman said planning and orchestrating the filming proved difficult because they didn’t know exactly when the crew was coming and staff members working on the task were not familiar with the process of filming a commercial.

“We were scheduling half hour blocks and yet it takes them at least a half an hour to set up,” said Chapman, adding that some people who had been scheduled to participate were left hanging.

Cella echoed Chapman’s sentiments and said the timeline they created was too ambitious.

“The film crews took a long time to pack up from one shoot, move to the next one, and get the lighting and scene set for the next,” said Cella. “So people were disappointed and frustrated that they prepared and waited to no avail.”

However, next time they will be ready for such hiccups and prepare all those involved for the changes that can occur during such a daunting task.

“Now we know that shoots are much more laborious and we need to schedule and plan to do less,” said Cella.

Despite some of the complications, Cella said she enjoyed this new venture and everyone involved really stepped up to the plate.

“This was the first time my staff and I had experienced three film crews at once in our careers,” she said. “It was exhilarating and exciting, challenging and nerve-wracking, but we loved every minute!”

Kratochvil said the purpose of all this was to show off the beautiful campus and facilities.

“LMC is a tremendous gift and we want to make sure our community members know its value.”