Student Blogger Study USA

Candy Fresh at SPNN: More from Student Blogger Syd

In front a bright pink background, a group of young people have crowded onto a stage.

Every semester, one student from each HECUA program takes on the role of student blogger, sending regular dispatches from the field. Syd Stratman will be HECUA’s student blogger for the Making Media, Making Change program this spring semester. Syd is a senior at the University of Minnesota, majoring in Studies in Cinema and Media Culture and minoring in Art. Syd completed the Making Media, Making Change program in the fall, and then chose to enroll in the program’s optional credit-earning internship component this spring. For more information about Making Media, Making Change and how internships for this program are structured, click here. Read on for Syd’s description of their work with SPNN’s Candy Fresh.

Often when I work on video projects or shows, I only work on one aspect of the show: editing, camera operating, etc. My work with the SPNN show Candy Fresh is a different story. I’ve been involved in just about every stage of the production of Candy Fresh. This provides a completely different understanding of how a show gets made and the moving parts within it. Within my career experiences as a media maker and my internship at the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network I pushed myself to work on as many aspects of production as possible. I wanted to increase my skills but more importantly I believe knowing as much as possible about other production jobs allows you to more effectively communicate and collaborate with your crew. I know about how long things will take to accomplish, what to look for in terms of skill level and what can be done. In addition I can use the language of the job to make sure everyone understands what we are trying to create together.

Candy Fresh is a show that aims to bring the community together to celebrate and highlight the amazing people in the Twin Cities. These people are primarily people of color and women and each show has a theme: Sistas in Stem, Black Futures Month, My Foodie Lyfe, etc. The show brings in a live studio audience and the hosts talk to the guests about what they do and how they contribute to the community. Add a DJ, musical guests, and the audience dancing on stage and you’ve got the “sweetest show in the Twin Cities.” Candy Fresh airs on SPNN’s channels and you can check out past episodes here.

Through the viewfinder of a camera, you can see a DJ sitting at a green booth labeled "Fresh."

Setting up for Candy Fresh filming. 

The first skill I used for Candy Fresh was editing. I started out editing trailers and episodes for the show. Editing is something I feel confident I do well, and I found it was a great way to get to know the show and its hosts. I looked at past episodes to understand what the show aims for in terms of style and tone. After that, I moved on to camera operating. This part of the process allows you to be immersed in the world of a show in space and not just through a screen. Getting to know the rest of the crew and see the dynamics of the audience, guests, and hosts is a valuable thing. The final project I’ve been working on for Candy Fresh involves creating additional content for the show.

All of the hosts are new this season and it became my job to help the viewers get to know them and get excited to watch the show. Bianca Rhodes, the producer of Candy Fresh, tasked me with creating these videos from start to finish. She sent me the email addresses of the hosts and gave me creative control over the rest of the process. That meant I had to schedule the interviews, find the space and rent equipment, writing questions, light, run camera and edit the videos. I would not be able to accomplish this without the previous experiences. I knew it was important to understand the projects I work on as deeply as possible, but this particular show has so much more meaning than the format of the show and I wouldn’t be able to accurately convey that without those experiences. It also reminded me how important it is to listen to the people you are creating content with and for. Being able to listen to the hosts and converse with them about how they feel about themselves, the show and their community is so valuable.

In this case, I heard from the people involved in Candy Fresh about the community impacts of having a show that highlights people of color, women and other underrepresented people. Every aspect of that show is created with that principle in mind, the crew is predominantly people of color and women. Women of color fill some of the positions that you rarely see filled by women or people of color, like producer, floor manager, and host. I’m proud to work on a show like Candy Fresh because it provides a real world context for the kind of ethical media practices that I want to incorporate into my own media-making. Representation matters, and to make a difference, it has to go beyond the stories and people in front of the camera. If you don’t include those same groups behind the scenes you aren’t allowing those groups to speak for themselves. If you speak for them you decide what they need and what is important and that can become at best ineffective and at worst exploitative.

A young person in a fitted cap and large glasses stares directly into the camera.

Syd on set.

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