Being ready to step into a career is one of the hallmarks of an education at UW-Stout. A group of video production majors, including one already working professionally, are a couple of steps closer to that reality.
Recently, students in the Advanced Video Production class toured Cinequipt in Minneapolis, adding an important piece of industry knowledge: How a high-end video and cinema rental house and sound stage operates.
“It’s such a huge industry, but you don’t realize how small of a world it actually is,” said Jacob Phillips, a junior from Grantsburg who has started his own business, the award-winning JLP Films. “Big studios like Cinequipt are accessible to us, and they made us feel like a team. Everybody in the film industry has one goal, and that’s to create content.”
Classmate Marshall Jacklin, of Slinger in southeastern Wisconsin, who is eyeing a career in the outdoor national films industry, said the friendly reception students received from Cinequipt “just makes the filmmaking industry that much more enjoyable. You get a community or family feel.”
Because of the high cost of specialty equipment and logistics, videographers of all types including corporations, filmmakers, advertising agencies and television shows often rent studio space, cameras and supporting equipment for their shoots.
The tour included video equipment demonstrations, such as set-up and lighting. “Even the professors were geeking out about all the equipment,” Phillips said, noting a high-end Arri Alexa camera.
“They have so many cameras you don’t need every day,” Jacklin said. “The amount of gear was insane, like an armory.”
Cinequipt has been a mainstay of the Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Midwest film and television production community for more than 50 years. In 2021, it joined the nationally based Red Star Rentals, which has provided additional resources. Red Star is from Madison.
In 1993, Cinequipt supported the filming of Hollywood’s “Grumpy Old Men,” in Wabasha, Minn.; and on the day the UW-Stout students visited, a major Twin Cities corporation was filming in one of the studios.
“Taking the theory of the classroom and seeing those theories at work in the real world is a crucial educational piece for anyone,” said Mitch Thompson, Cinequipt branch manager. “Anytime a program takes the time to expose students to the nonacademic reality of this industry, they are really preparing their students to be better prepared to enter the workforce.
“It also begins to create connections. Savvy students take business cards, follow up with staff, discuss internships, get advice for an upcoming project or learn about finding ways to break into the business,” he added.
Assistant Professor Keif Oss, who led the trip, and other professors in the video production program encourage students to network with their classmates, alumni and industry contacts.
“Adding the Cinequipt tour to our repertoire of student experiences is an extension of the hands-on, industry-aligned relevance we seek to offer students,” Oss said.
The trip included several other instructors, as well as staff members Nick Dangeur, technical engineer, and Ed Jakober, media specialist, who support the program.
Students in the class also experienced an annual workshop on campus presented by Canon. They had hands-on opportunities to work with special video equipment, including for filming class projects.
The Advanced Video Production class in general exposes upper level students to a range of highly complex camera systems, audio equipment and studio/location lighting gear “that absolutely requires a focused team to operate safely and effectively,” Oss said.
Jacklin and Phillips are more than a year away from earning their bachelor’s degrees, but they came to UW-Stout already with video production careers in mind.
Jacklin enjoys hunting and fishing, and he works part time at the Menomonie Outdoors Sport Shop. He is aiming for a career in the outdoors industry, hopefully someday filming for the National Geographic or Discovery channels.
Phillips plans to start his career by growing his JLP Films, a wedding videography company. Recently, he received the 2023 Best of Weddings award from the Knot and the Couples Choice award from WeddingWire, leading national websites for wedding vendors. The awards, based on customer reviews, put him in the top 5% of wedding videographers nationwide, he said.
“Seeing that (recognition) unfold is an amazing feeling,” he said.
Inspired by YouTube sports highlight videos, Phillips started filming his high school football team in 2017 and then in 2019 a few weddings for family and friends, at first on a cell phone.
This year, he’s already booked about 20 weddings. He provides clients with a professional, 6- to 7-minute edited video with highlights of their day as well as raw footage of the full ceremony, speeches and more.
He also works for UW-Stout Athletics, creating mainly quick-turnaround sports highlight videos, putting in about 25 hours a week. Initially he was hired to focus on men’s basketball, but the sports information staff quickly realized his skill level and expanded his role.
One of his JLP Films efforts was a 13-minute documentary on the Blue Devil volleyball team. See more highlights of his wedding work, Blue Devil athletics action and highlights of a recent women’s basketball game.
Phillips’ other career aspiration is filming for a professional sports team, such as recent alum Connor Clark, a video producer with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League.
Phillips loves doing both. “Weddings are a little bit like sports. There’s just one game and you have to nail it. I thrive in pressure situations. It doesn’t feel like work.”