By Tanner Kent
The Free Press
MANKATO — A little while ago, students and faculty in Bethany Lutheran College’s Media Arts program had a crazy idea:
Why not make a music video for one of the country’s fastest-growing bands, a band who’s earned audiences with David Letterman, Craig Ferguson and Conan O’Brien in the past year and boasts a 2012 recording that has spent a ridiculous 51 consecutive weeks on the Billboard charts for best-selling bluegrass album?
Problem is, that band hadn’t exactly asked for a video. And Bethany students weren’t even sure if they wanted one.
Nonetheless, students in BLC’s “Advanced Production Management” course made a mock website trumpeting the new partnership and teasing band members with a taste of Bethany’s award-winning design virtuosity.
To everyone’s surprise, Trampled by Turtles agreed. The video for “Midnight on the Interstate” debuts during BLC’s Speechless Film Festival on May 3-4.
“We knew it’d be a longshot to pull off,” said Kurt Paulsen, one of two instructors in the program along with Andy Overn. “But we wanted to go after a Minnesota band that would care about us doing the video.”
Though Trampled by Turtles formed in Duluth, frontman Dave Simonett hails from Mankato. The band’s last two albums — 2010’s “Palomino” and 2012’s “Stars and Satellites” — have garnered huge reviews, and its tours have been largely sold out for the better part of three years.
But BLC’s Media Arts program doesn’t come without its own mantel of accolades. Though the tiny, liberal arts college has an enrollment around 700 students, the program has become something of a broadcasting heavyweight.
Its productions are regular award-winners at the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts and its acclaimed “Maverick Hockey Weekend” show was nominated for an Emmy in 2010. Students in the program regularly earn internships with such organizations as ESPN, Disney, FOX and MediaCom.
“We’re trying to establish ourselves as having the ability to work with a variety of clients, and with a variety of sources,” Paulsen said. “We want students to leave here and immediately be able to work at that caliber.”
The video will be filmed using stop-motion animation combined with an elaborate series of cityscapes and 28 handmade, wooden puppets. Filming will likely begin in the coming days and continue for the next two to three weeks.
Paulsen said Bethany is not charging money for the video, but will be able to keep all of the props. In addition, students in the course are also creating a music video for a Texas-based string band, White Ghost Slivers, and a branding campaign for Drive A Tank in Kasota.
To see more examples of work created by the Media Arts program, visit: www.blc.edu/_media-arts/portfolio.html.