Two California State University, Dominguez Hills digital media arts (DMA) students landed a gig that highlights their talent in a big way.
The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) commissioned recent alumna Danayia Stedham (Class of ’12, B.A., digital media arts, television arts option) and Kimberly Esslinger, a senior majoring in DMA with a television arts option, to produce a 30-second public service announcement (PSA), “Experience a Healthy Lifestyle,” which has since aired on the City of L.A.’s Channel 35 with a reach of 1.3 million households in the City of Los Angeles, and debuted on the giant video screen at the Staple Center during halftime at the Clippers versus Orlando Magic game on Jan. 12.
“It was kind of an out-of-body experience because you have all these people in this huge stadium and they’re all looking at what you did. Just to see our video playing on the JumboTron was just extraordinary,” Stedham said. “It was great. I really enjoyed it.”
The women produced the PSA in fall 2012 for Digital Media Production Workshop (DMA 346), a course for seniors to produce “client-based” projects. Their professor, George Vinovich, coordinator of the Digital Media Arts program, recommended them for the pro bono project.
“I knew they both had an interest in community service and outreach for the university,” Vinovich said of his recommendation. “I’m happy to say that I had very little to do with their project, and that’s a good thing, because when you see that your students can please a client with very little input or supervision on your part as their professor, then you know that they’re ready to stand on their own two legs in the industry.”
At the time she was a senior student, Stedham, an accounting coordinator for the finance department at Universal Music Publishing in Santa Monica, produced a PSA, “Spray, Tuck, Zip,” promoting tick prevention awareness for the California Department of Public Health. It earned her and co-producer alumna Myeshia Horton (Class of ’12, B.A., digital media arts) first place in a creative arts session during the 2012 Student Research Day at CSU Dominguez Hills.
Esslinger, who earned fourth place for her short mixed-media video “Noble Truth 2” in the experimental category at the 2012 California State University Media Arts Festival, has produced a PSA aimed at helping senior citizens, as well as an instructional video for the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. She said having the RAP PSA air on television and displayed on the JumboTron was a new experience.
“It’s the most visible project I’ve done and the first really professional project I’ve done outside of school,” she said.
When the opportunity to work on the PSA came up, she was eager to accept and to work with Stedham.
“We were in class together, but I had never worked on a project, just her and I,” Esslinger recalled. “I always wanted to work with Danayia, because I had seen her work on other projects and I thought that she’d be really cool to work with.”
For Stedham, who wants to someday be a music supervisor in a television, film or jingle company, co-producing the PSA for RAP was important so future employers can see that she has professional-level experience. Having a co-producer she clicked with made the project an even more rewarding experience.
“You can’t ask for anyone with a better attitude, a better work ethic. Kimberly is just so can-do,” Stedham said.
On the RAP PSA, Stedham was responsible for such pre-production tasks as location and talent scouting, and directing the cast, which included a former classmate, Alex White (Class of ’12, B.A., digital media arts). Esslinger served as a co-director as well as conducting production/post-production editing and sound. But, one of the duo’s first tasks was to discover what their client wanted.
“We met with Recreation and Parks. We found out what they were looking for, what some of their ideas were that they wanted to see addressed in whatever our concepts were,” Esslinger said.
Leslie Richter, senior recreation director for RAP, said the students were attentive to expectations the department’s staff had for the PSA.
“The students were professional and engaging. They came to us with several PSA ideas. Having to choose just one was a difficult task as each idea presented was very good,” Richter said.
Without the resources available to produce the project, Richter said working collaboratively with the university was important for the department, which manages more than 16,000 acres of parkland with over 400 neighborhood and regional parks, 10 lakes, 61 pools, 15 skate parks, 19 universal access playgrounds, 12 museums, 183 recreation centers and the country’s largest municipal golf program.
“The experience was a win-win for both parties,” she said. “RAP is thrilled with the final outcome. It delivers a call to action-get off the couch and get outside! Avoid a detrimental sedentary lifestyle and replace it with a healthy lifestyle by enjoying RAP’s many recreational opportunities for the whole family – even the family dog!”
Stedham’s dog Claire played herself as the dog in the PSA.
For more information on the DMA program at CSU Dominguez Hills, visit cah.csudh.edu/digitalmedia.