If you tuned in to the Super Bowl, you may have noticed Hillsdale College’s commercial standing out amid a circus of Doritos, Bud Light, and Dodge commercials. Hillsdale offered the public a glimpse of the school’s refusal of federal funding and mission-focused education through its commercial. Behind it all was the Hillsdale College Marketing Department.
Although he was not primarily in charge of the Super Bowl advertisements, Video Producer Chandler Ryd ’18 oversees all writing, production, and filming of promotional videos for Hillsdale College marketing.
“In the marketing department, we’re telling stories,” Sarah Borger, digital content coordinator for the marketing department, said. “You can write those stories through a variety of ways. One of the strongest ways to tell narratives from around campus is through video. Chandler captivates the audience by telling stories that are compelling and draw in the viewer.”
While he took on the responsibilities of leading the department less than a year ago, Ryd is already leaving his mark. A quick look at his calendar reveals a slew of projects, such as filming online lectures, handling media promotions for both the college and Hillsdale Academy, completing a project covering the senior class gift, another major television spot for early 2020, and shooting footage from the Hillsdale Academy for three separate projects.
“For me, the life cycle of a project is about three months from shooting the video until it’s done. Sometimes it can be faster, but it can be tricky when there are five projects to work on,” Ryd admitted, chuckling.
But Ryd did not anticipate becoming a filmmaker when he first attended Hillsdale College.
“I did it because in high school I intended to be an English teacher after I graduated,” Ryd said. “I always loved creative writing. However, that turned into a love of film-making right before college. Right about sophomore year, I began to realize this was something I wanted to do.”
Ryd began working for Hillsdale’s marketing department as a blog writer during his freshman year. However, as a sophomore, he quickly transitioned into the role of video production assistant to Sam Brown, the former head of video production. From managing files, to logging metadata, to editing videos, Ryd worked three years until his graduation from Hillsdale in 2018. Shortly thereafter, Brown accepted a job in the White House and offered his old job to Ryd.
Deciding to stay at Hillsdale College to work as the head of video production was not an easy choice as many opportunities had emerged in Los Angeles for Ryd.
“It was a choice between ‘Do I want to be here in Hillsdale with more creative control, or do I want to go to a place like LA and potentially work on bigger projects, meet more people, but have a very small role?’ And probably not a creative role until several years into it.”
Ryd ended up accepting the position of video producer for the college, initially on an interim basis, and eventually, due to his stellar work, his role became permanent.
The creative process varies with each of his videos.
“The general process is to come up with an idea, plan it out, create a script or moodboard,” Ryd said. “You plan it, you shoot it, and you edit with continuous rewriting.”
Depending on the budget and demands of the particular project, video production generally takes three to six months, with the first month dedicated to coming up with the concept and writing the script, and the last month focused on putting together a cast, preparing the studio, and scheduling the shoots. Filming usually takes three to five days, followed by weeks to months of post-production editing.
Nate Neveau, senior and member of the Hillsdale College basketball team, spoke to his experience in front of the camera for the marketing department.
“I had never been a part of a video production prior to working with the video production team,” Neveau said. “Sensing my slight discomfort, they eased my nerves and made the experience enjoyable and productive. During my time with the team, their blend of professionalism and personality impressed me.”
Given an ever-diversifying mediasphere with new outlets for content popping up daily, Ryd and the marketing department must adapt their creative styles to the habits of the American consumer, including social media platforms.
“You have to make the video work on platforms like Facebook where they will see the first portion of a video without the sound but still want to share the video after hearing it,” Ryd said.
Despite the complexities of the information age and new media outlets, Ryd says he’s excited for the possibilities in the future of video advertising for Hillsdale.
“It’s a personal, creative journey,” Ryd said. “I’ve become a lot better at brainstorming ideas and coming at a project differently than I have before.”
Despite differences in each production process, Ryd explains that the central message does not change from video to video.
“A big part of marketing is recognizing that all the same reasons I love the college, the mission and the classes, are why people outside the college love the college.”