An inside look at a multimedia live production.

Director Alessandro Imperiale and Technical Director Billo Gatzonis (Photo: Rashika Williams)

By Briyahna Rice

On Wednesday, October 16th, Five Towns College co-sponsored the League of Women Voters Meet the Candidates Night from 7 to 9 PM in the Performing Arts Theater. The participants in the candidate debate were running for Suffolk County Legislative Districts 13, 16, 17, and 18.

Five Towns College regularly presents many great theater productions, sporting games, and outside events that have put the college on the map and many talented students in the spotlight. Producing a live political debate broadcast is just another great example. Mass Communication Division Chair, Thomas Calandrillo, explained how this opportunity came about:

“The League of Women Voters first approached Five Towns College three years ago to produce an audio PSA for them about early voter registration. They were so impressed with our broadcast and journalism students, that they asked if we would be interested in hosting a Meet the Candidates Night. The offer came at the perfect time as we were in the middle of reorganizing the broadcast and journalism programs to better prepare our students for the real world. An event like this, produced and co-sponsored by the Mass Communication division, is put together like any large election coverage you would see on television. It gives our students real world experience; from directing and technical directing in the control room to covering the event as an on-camera reporter.”

Five Town College’s Mass Communication division was front and center of the action, with a livestreamed YouTube broadcast, WFTU radio stream, and online coverage produced by students under the guidance of their professors.

Alessandro Imperiale, directed the event and was one of many students who played a critical role in the crew to make sure the production was prepared and professional. “In most cases, the preparation for an event like this is the same as any other. However, there is one key difference in the production phase, being that instead of trying to capture action and movement, you’re more focused on dialogue and a reasonable portrayal of everyone,” Imperiale said.

Along with Imperiale, Mass Comm students Imani Jenkins and Joseph Tejada operated the cameras to get the best shots for the college’s YouTube channel.

Joseph Tejada detailed his role on camera one, “What I’m going to be doing is getting more tighter shots for the candidates when they start speaking, just panning over when they rebut each other as well.”

Behind camera two, Imani Jenkins said, “I am doing most of the medium shots and panning back and forth from the podium to the desks.”

Jayson Troy worked the event from a different perspective, “I will be getting the questions from the audience so whenever they come in, I will hand them a piece of paper and a pen, and they can ask questions to any of the candidates on the stage,” he said.

As this was an all hands-on deck situation for the event, the students were focused on being a production team. “Teamwork is probably one of the biggest things here. Mainly, just having good communication, no pun intended. I know it’s our major, but having good communication from the control room all the way to the camera and all the way to Jayson Troy handing out the cards to the people to ask questions,” explained Tejada.

Briyahna Rice interviews fellow student reporter Emily Granados (Photo: Rashika Williams)

Just minutes before the debate began, Reporter Emily Granados had live interviews with Five Towns College President, Dr. David Cohen and then Dianne Slavin, LWV Director of Voter Services. Granados talked about her reporting goal for the night, saying, “I was just talking a little bit about what’s to be expected for tonight.”

In addition to Granados, the reporting team included Naja Cannon, Ross Perlow-Hanson, and me reporting for The Record Online, with student photographers Rashika Williams and Sage Albanese contributing the visuals. Additionally, many Mass Communication students attended the event and completed multimedia assignments for their classes.

Bobby Vaccaro operates the board for WFTU Radio (Photo: Rashika Williams)

WFTU Radio Station Manager, Matthew O’Leary and student, Bobby Vaccaro handled the radio broadcast as well as promoted the event over the airwaves, “We usually record a promo that airs on the station throughout the days leading up to the event. Also, we use our social media page to help try to get as many people as possible to tune in,” O’ Leary said.

After a successful broadcast, the League of Women Voters was pleased with the evening. Calandrillo agreed:

“It was a huge undertaking for the Mass Communication Division to produce a live multimedia production. It is one of the few outside events that the college sponsors and we wanted to make sure it came off without a hitch. Anytime you do something live, there is always another layer of stress. This teaches our students the importance of time management and troubleshooting, something that you can’t learn in a textbook. I am so very proud of the students and faculty for making this event a success.”