Posted Date: 08/26/2016
By Dixon Land, Sun Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
JONESBORO — Students at Nettleton High School have many different options for electives at school. Included in that catalog is the Nettleton Video Production classes taught by Craig Miller.
Since 2010, Miller has been equipping the next generation of video production experts in his beginner and intermediate video production courses, designed specifically to teach and inspire students to fall in love with film.
"We go through school with all of these challenging courses and then we come in here, and it's almost like a break because it's stuff that we really enjoy," junior Cole Morgan said. "It's stuff that we are going to be able to take with us outside of school as well."
The program at Nettleton High School is so popular, Miller said, that the classes have wait lists every year. With all of Miller's combined numbers in the program, he said that they have about 130 students learning video production.
"It's a very popular program here," Miller said. "I have three fundamentals classes and for the second year students, there is an intermediate class. Sometimes students take it one year and decide it's not for them and then others decide that this might be something for them and they end up taking another year of it."
The classes encourage students to participate in a number of different projects and rarely are students lectured by Miller. In fact, Miller said that he thinks that learning how to operate a camera is, "all about doing it and learning." And while the students are able to learn by doing, they learn with some of the most advanced and professionally used software in the video business — final cut pro.
"It's what they use in Hollywood productions," Miller said.
The students have participated in many different projects, including some sports-related projects, some fictional short films and the occasional music video. Alongside some of the long-term projects, Miller has his students take turns filming important school events like homecoming, plays and choirs.
"We make DVDs for those kids because it's something they'll probably cherish for the rest of their lives," Miller said.
The work from Miller and his students have paid off. Since the founding of the program six years ago, Miller said that his students have won multiple awards at the annual Arkansas State Communication Day, where high school students from around the state compete for awards in various media. Their music videos have placed first every year since 2010.
For the students, however, it's more than just about the awards.
"This will certainly prepare me for the future," said junior Dylan Conaway. "For me, it has given me an inspiration to learn about filming and videos that I can build a life with if I wanted to. With these skills, you could do everything from filming videos for big companies to filming weddings and things like that on the side."
"This class is cool because it brings a lot of different kids together to do one thing," sophomore Conner Barnes said.
Miller points to two graduates as examples of how much impact the program has already had on students. Cade Carlton currently works in sports radio and serves as the sports editor of The Herald at Arkansas State, but first gained his love for broadcasting from the program, Miller said. Miller also pointed to Tyler Morgan, a video student at the University of Central Arkansas.
"Craig Miller not only helped me learn how to better make videos, but he gave me chances to prove it to myself and to everyone else and the subtle lessons I learned about being my true self and being more outgoing have stuck with me even today," Morgan said.
The program's productions can primarily be seen through YouTube at their YouTube channel — www.youtube.com/nettletontv — where the students' work has been viewed by more than 1 million people. Miller said that he hears on many occasions that people overseas with connections to Nettleton will watch the documentaries or tune into the live sports broadcasts.
"I'm so thankful that Nettleton is doing this for the kids. It is an unbelievable opportunity for students today," Miller said. "We're teaching kids how to write, how to brainstorm, and then we're rolling the camera, and then we spend several weeks just working on post-production ... they're getting exposed to something that just might be their career."