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Students Help With Production of Local Musician’s DVD

Penn College mass media communications students, from left, Jeremy L. Swiger, of Pine Grove%3B Seth H. Heasley, of Montgomery%3B and Jonathan R. Hurr, of Franklin, assist with video production of the 'Down by the Tool Shed' children%E2%80%99s music DVD.Local children’s musician Alice “Allie” Weiler recently recruited students in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s mass media communication major to assist with producing a new DVD series.

Nine students offered a weekend in January to lend their hands to and learn from a film crew from Mind’s Eye Music Studios in Williamsport, which taped the children’s DVD, titled “Down at the Tool Shed,” in the college’s video production studio.

“It was a great experience, and I really enjoyed working with Bruce (Huffman, instructor of media arts and video production) and all the students from Penn College,” said Scott Francis, producer/engineer at Mind’s Eye. “Having worked with numerous students over the years at the Uptown Music Collective, where I teach music technology, I was happy to see so many turn out to get some “˜real-world experience’ with this project. The facilities were great, and Bruce and all the students were so willing to help out in any manner that we needed; this really contributed to the success of the project.”

Students operated cameras, assisted with audio and in the control room, and helped to set up and tear down sets for the project.

Mass media communications students Justin L. Wisser and Shanee B. Robinson operate cameras.Those who helped were David E. Davenport Jr., of DuBoistown; Jonathan R. Hurr, of Franklin; Seth H. Heasley, of Montgomery; Shanee B. Robinson, of Newark, Del.; Crystal L. Smeal, of Morrisdale; Jeremy L. Swiger, of Pine Grove; Thadeus M. Waters, of Selinsgrove; Brian K. Williams, of Williamsport; and Justin L. Wisser, of Williamsport. Huffman supervised the studio sessions.

Robinson, who operated a camera and took photos of the production, said: “It gave me the experience of actually working professionally with a company doing this kind of work. It is something I can put on my resume and an experience that I can take with me.”

“The students really impressed me with their knowledge and poise in the studio,” Weiler said. “Having never done studio work before, my cast and I were rather tense. The students were not only very skilled as camera and studio technicians, but they made helpful comments that really put us all at ease.”

The “Down at the Tool Shed” DVD features three episodes that are designed to give children valuable skills they can take with them throughout life, including self-confidence, positive self-esteem, and the ability to follow their dreams.

“This DVD was written and produced with counselors, teachers and parents in mind,” Weiler said. “It was intended to be used as a teaching tool in kid-friendly environments.”

Gail Brown, as 'Tasha,' and Allie Weiler rehearse a scene.Weiler is an elementary-school counselor who has worked with children in schools for 20 years. Her entertaining method for teaching kids came about when she realized she could combine her love of singing and songwriting with her motivational and educational lessons. She released two CDs of original children’s music, “We Don’t Monkey Around” (1999) and “Chase Your Dream” (2003). In the years since the releases, she has taken her live show on the road with performances at festivals, schools, conventions and day-care centers.

“My show just kept evolving,” she said. “At first I was solo and that was fun. Then I started asking friends and family if they would be in my shows to help and play different characters.”

With the additions of a cardboard puppet house painted to look like a tool shed and assistance from “Tasha the Tool Girl” (played by Gail Brown), a direction for her next project began to form.

“My fans kept asking when I was going to release another CD, and I began to seriously ponder the idea of producing a DVD for kids,” she said. “I decided to let the tool shed lead the way, and the theme and title of my DVD started to become clear.”

The completed DVD project may be used to solicit consideration from public television stations or other public venues. It may also be released independently, with portions of the proceeds donated to children’s charities.

Weiler’s “Down at the Tool Shed” DVD is scheduled for a mid-April release.

“I feel especially happy with the finished product, and am glad at how wonderful the process of getting there turned out to be,” Francis said. “My hope is that all the students who participated feel the same way and could walk away having learned from the experience.”

'Little peepers' prepare to help with the 'Let%E2%80%99s Learn From the Frogs' episode.In addition to behind-the-scenes participation by mass media communications students, several children who attend the college’s Children’s Learning Center helped make up the cast of the “Let’s Learn From the Frogs” episode. “The kids, although a little nervous at first, were so adorable in the studio,” Weiler said. “I know the frog-pond segment of the DVD is going to be a huge hit with the fans.”

Weiler said she is grateful for the support she has received from Penn College, family, friends and the community. “Having had this opportunity to take an idea and turn it into a dream has been one of the best experiences of my life. For this, I am very thankful,” she said.

For more information about Weiler’s music, e-mail her or visit online .

For more information about the mass media communication major and other academic programs offered by the School of Integrated Studies at Penn College, visiton the Web or call (570) 327-4521. For more information about Penn College, visit online, e-mail or call toll-free (800) 367-9222.

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