Behind the scenes of our 20th Anniversary video

A DSLR camera filming

By Matt Dagele

The Comm Lead 20th Anniversary Video was a tremendous project that represents the hands-on, student-first spirit of Communication Leadership and its core tenets, from Storytelling to Values and Community. The project, which I was lucky enough to work closely on, was a testament to the dedication and commitment of those who call themselves Comm Leaders.

It all started in the spring quarter of 2021 in COMMLD 503C: Storytelling for Organizations, a practicum class instructed by Jordan Melograna, filmmaker and CEO of Block by Block Creative. Comm Lead practicum classes give students an opportunity to engage in contemporary professional practice by addressing the challenges of real-life organizations.

In this class, students teamed up to develop a video production plan for a client; that quarter the client was Comm Lead! With the program celebrating its 20th anniversary that year, key stakeholders wanted a video to celebrate its past and present legacy while looking forward to its future. One of the key messages they wanted to convey was that although this video is being created for the 20th anniversary, the program has its eyes on the future and how it can stay on top of preparing students for a fast-changing professional world.

Once we got the details of the project and what the client was looking for, we as a class split into three teams: the Creative, People, and Production Teams. I was on the Production team and our responsibilities included gathering archival footage and assets and scheduling the times and locations for shoots and interviews. Meanwhile, the Creative Team worked on story-boarding and developing the look and feel for the video, and the People Team worked on per-interviewing talent and finalizing our cast list. 

The practicum was a great applied learning opportunity for everyone in the class, especially for students like me because video storytelling is my specialization in the program. I didn’t think when I joined this program that I would have the opportunity to be a part of such a massive project like this! This was legitimate work that I could show a potential employer to demonstrate that I have the experience they’re looking for.

That’s not to say that we didn’t run into problems. However, Jordan’s experience in nonprofit and advocacy video projects set us up for success as we were able to utilize his expertise and guidance. After the plan was put together and presented to Comm Lead stakeholders, it was up to Jordan’s production company to execute the plan we made, and luckily for us he recruited some of us in the class to join the crew in the filming of the video, which we did the following summer.

Being a member of the crew was the icing on the cake for me, as I was able to operate cameras and audio equipment, interview talent, and meet so many Comm Lead-affiliated people in person after months of remote experiences.

When I saw the final versions of the video after they went through post-production, I couldn’t help but smile and feel grateful to have been involved. The whole process represents the strength and skills of our community, and it stands out as one of my most memorable experiences in the program.

You can watch the full version of the 20th Anniversary Video on the History & Future page of the new website, and check out a shorter version on the homepage