CMTV14 gives access to video tools
At the Community-Minded Enterprise public access television channel, CMTV14, staff are gearing up to help local organizations continue operating by using video.
With the growing concern about COVID-19, DaShawn Bedford, station production manager, and Darrien Mack, production associate, are shifting focus to support organizations with their filming and editing services.
The virus has forced many local companies, colleges and universities online, making videography services an important element of the pandemic responses.
With colleges and universities closing campuses, professors are putting their courses online. That creates a challenge for instructors who have not taught online.
Local companies are in the same boat. While meetings are moving to the remote conferencing service Zoom, many other business activities must be filmed.
"We plan to reduce our normal rates for filming and editing services," DaShawn said, "from $1,000 to $750 for four hours. We also have filming packages for larger projects.
"We are just beginning to find ways CMTV can help our community respond to COVID-19," said Lee Williams, executive director of Community-Minded Enterprises (CME). "We are communicating daily about how we can help."
The desire to help Spokane companies through these challenging times reflects the mission of CME to "empower communities to improve long term well-being through outreach, access and training."
The City of Spokane awarded CME, a Spokane nonprofit, the contract to create the city's official public access television station in 2007. Digital media programs air on Comcast channel 14, reaching about 100,000 homes in the Spokane area.
CMTV's response to the new environment is a new way the station "offers the community the ability to have their voice heard," said Nancy Rust, CME finance and operations director.
Many people have documentaries, shows, public service announcement and other program ideas. For people with something to say to the public, CMTV14 is like a soapbox to share their vision, she said.
Beyond video and editing services, DaShawn and Darrien offer a community space for creativity.
For a monthly membership fee of $25, people can come to the studio at 104 W. 3rd Ave., Suite B, and use the editing equipment, cameras, lights and microphones to create a music video, short film or documentary. The studio usage fee of $150 gives access to the green screen, dollies and lights.
"Many people have stories that want to be told," DaShawn said, "but don't have the money to buy high-end cameras. That shouldn't be the reason they can't tell their story."
For example, Maurice Smith of Spokane Homeless Connect and Rising Media didn't know anything about filming or editing when he walked into the CMTV14 studio to create a documentary series on homelessness in Spokane. With the support of Darrien and DaShawn, he learned how to work cameras, edit films and create a documentary.
In January 2019, he filmed "The Spokane Homeless Connect," the first episode of the series.
"The documentary demonstrates what CMTV is here to do," DaShawn said. "It's to start conversations and for people to tell stories they want to share."
Maurice went to CMTV14 daily to work on the second episode, "The Hidden Homeless."
"CMTV takes someone like me who knows nothing," Maurice said, "and lets me handle the equipment. People here taught me how to use the equipment and when I made a mistake, they showed me how to fix it."
People like Maurice, who use CMTV14's equipment and advice are called community producers.
"Anyone can become a member and come in here between Monday and Friday," DaShawn said. "Even high school teens have learned how to use the equipment."
Lewis and Clark High School students used the equipment to film a 24-minute documentary on Martin Luther King, Jr.
"I just went over there and helped out," DaShawn said. "They did the editing and put the story together."
In addition to the community producer program, they have the CMTV14 channel itself.
"As long as it's not hypersexual or hyperviolent," Darrien said, "people can create productions to express themselves."
CMTV14 also offers acting classes on Mondays and Saturdays. Some classes are for adults or young adults. One just invites people into a freestyle experience to let their acting come out.
They were planning to start a new class involving both acting and videography, which would give film students an opportunity to shoot something real and give acting students the chance to experience what it's like to act in front of a camera.
With the mounting concern over COVID-19, however, all classes are postponed.
Because the classes were an important source of revenue, they will make this up with more filming and editing contracts.
Local companies and nonprofits hire them to film promotional videos, public service announcements and community meetings.
Darrien and DaShawn are confident they will continue to draw more business, because they are attentive to detail and have a track record of producing quality films.
CMTV14 stands out because of the energy and collaborative culture that Darrien and DaShawn bring to their work, said Nancy.
"It's weird having my career be something I like doing for a hobby," Darrien said. "There have been times where I'm off the clock and then I'm working on my own video. Same seat, same software and doing the same thing, but I'll be here until 10 at night."
After he earned a bachelor's in graphic design from Whitworth University in 2013, Darrien traveled and started a small videography company.
Then he worked as master controller at KHQ before being hired at CME in 2017.
"I figured out early on that I wanted to spend my time creating," he said. "I also have an ethical direction to help people with what they want to achieve. I want to create what I like and help others create what they want."
Both Darrien and DaShawn, grew up in Spokane. Their personal histories shape their approach to their work.
"I'm ten years older than Darrien, so his black culture is a bit different than mine," DeShawn said.
They dress differently and bring a different sense of design, rhythm and mood to their work but they bring energy and a collaborative spirit to creative projects.
DaShawn grew up in West Central Spokane, an area known in the 1990s for criminal activity. While some friends were into gang activity, he found solace in basketball, playing in middle school, high school and at Spokane Community College.
From basketball, he learned that a team is sometimes up or sometimes behind by 30 points but it can come back.
"It's about attitude," he said. "It's never over until it's over."
Self-taught as a videographer, DaShawn's determination to challenge himself led him to teach himself to use a camera on a project for the Spokane Airport in 2006. The more he filmed, the more he knew that was what he wanted to do with his life.
Soon he was honing his skills by volunteering at CME, which saw his talent and hired him.
DaShawn did a public service announcement for the Boys and Girls Club, and that year they raised more than $300,000. The national Boys and Girls Club saw it and asked if they could show it at their national fundraiser.
His next project was a documentary on Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the Spokane NAACP who gained national attention for identifying as a black woman despite having no black ancestry.
DaShawn said his time filming that lightened his perspective about her.
"She did more positive than negative. I know some see it differently, and that's okay," he said.
Beyond their day-to-day work at CMTV14, both Darrien and DaShawn work on their own projects.
Some gained the attention of Spokane Arts, a nonprofit. It recently awarded DaShawn $5,000 to create a documentary on Bobby Jack Sumler, a local basketball legend, who set records when he played at Spokane Community College (SCC). He later coached the team and was a role model for them.
"I love playing basketball and doing camera work," DaShawn said. "In this production, I combine both."
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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, April, 2020