Creation of internal training videos filled much of Mike Holland’s time at Chandler Education TV. But the station’s first foray into documentary filmmaking could result in the ultimate prize.
Also known as Channel 99, the public access station in Chandler and Gilbert is up for an regional Emmy for its historical documentary, “The History of Chandler Schools, Part I: The First Bell Rings.”
At the behest of Chandler Unified School District Superintendent Camille Casteel to document and preserve the district’s history from the beginning, Holland and his team began work on the project in 2007. They finished Part I late last year, recently completed work on Part II and expect to wrap Part III by the end of this year.
“It was slow going for a while on Part I,” said Holland, station manager and producer. “The visuals didn’t exist. There were very few photographs of the buildings, certainly not enough to tell the story.”
So Holland’s team created the visuals through animation.
“All through the process, as we started to see how it was coming together — it was good — we kept joking, ‘We’re going to win an Emmy.’”
Holland officially submitted Part I, which focuses on the district’s formation, in February for Emmy consideration. The team learned last month it was nominated for a regional Emmy, given by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter.
“It speaks to the talent and expertise of the team,” Superintendent Casteel said. “I was such a nag for the last three or four years. I wanted something to preserve the district’s history for other superintendents down the road. I was thinking just slap something together. But they really created something beautiful. They exceeded my expectations with what they created. It’s phenomenal ... I am so thrilled for them.”
Chandler Education TV is up against projects from PBS stations in Tucson and Salt Lake City. The announcement will come Saturday night at a gala at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“The voting is complete. We’ve already either won or lost,” said Holland, who wrote, directed and edited the 25-minute production. “Either way, this has been incredible. It’s absolutely mind blowing to be nominated. It’s pretty unusual for a school district to be nominated, so it’s a huge honor to be in the same class as two PBS stations.”
That honor also falls on the rest of Holland’s crew: Earnest Robinson, producer and lead researcher; Tim Wong, art director and animation supervisor; Dennis Fries, artist and animator; Gabriel Contreras, videographer and modeler; and Julian Felix, character artist and animator.
“I watched it in amazement. They made this thing come to life,” said John Prothro, the project’s narrator and a Willis Junior High history teacher in his 19th year in the district. “It was a grand learning experience; I learned a lot about Chandler and its beginnings. I think this whole thing has been great.”
Part I covers 1910 to 1914. Part II, which was put on the station’s YouTube channel last week, chronicles the district from 1914-22. Part III picks up the story from there and brings it into modern day.
“Once you start a project like this it never really ends. History doesn’t stop,” Holland said. “With Part I, we were just kind of feeling out way through it. We streamlined a lot of things for Parts II and III. Part III is really strong.”
So does that mean Chandler Education TV could have more Emmy nominees on its hands?
“I think there’s a pretty good chance of that,” Holland said.
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