The Making Of “The Australia Project”
Glenn Bronson Recounts How He And Ryan Walsh Created A Five-Part Series That Is A Testament To The Power Of Study AbroadBy Stacey Hartmann GlobaLinks NewsWire Editor
When most college students go abroad for education and adventure in a foreign land, they bring along a camera to capture some memories and maybe post a video clip or two.
Glenn Bronson and Ryan Walsh did this and so much more.
The duo – at the time ambitious broadcast and cinematic arts majors at Central Michigan University – cooked up a plan to go abroad and document their experiences and gain some class credit and industry experience along the way.
They ended up signing up for a 10-week Professional Development for Academic Credit (PDAC) internship through AustraLearn in 2007 at the Sydney Film School in Sydney, Australia.
The result was “The Australia Project,” a five-episode documentary now available as a DVD through AustraLearn at no charge by emailing Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Australia Project” is several stories in one, including:
- A guide for those who want to turn dreams of an international educational experience into reality.
- A snapshot of the adventures and pitfalls that come with international travel, studies or interning abroad.
- A personal story of how Bronson, from Flint, Michigan, makes his first trip overseas and learns to swim “outside the fishbowl” of his predictable college life of classes, studying and sleep, and how he learns to try new foods instead of continuing to rely on a steady diet of chicken fingers and pizza.
- A glimpse of the homes, workplaces and daily lives of Australians they meet along the way, from the airport shuttle driver, to home-stay host Cabby, to the whip-slinging owner of a small-town outback gear shop.
“A lot of what ‘The Australia Project’ is about is experiencing a place and about it being something different,” Bronson says. “That’s what we dealt with overall. We went in thinking there were animals everywhere and everybody was going to be fun loving. But you go to Sydney and it’s a big city and a big environment. It’s more about adjusting.”
Bronson, who graduated in May and now lives in Los Angeles where he is pursuing a television production career, served as “The Australia Project’s” somewhat reluctant host/narrator.
“The Australia Project” By The Numbers
2 ambitious broadcasting and cinematic arts students
10 weeks in Australia
80 hours of footage
6 months of editing and production
3 segments left on the cutting-room floor
2 hours (roughly) total run time
25 minutes per episode
“I really don’t care to be on camera, to be honest,” Bronson says. “But I was the only one who was going to be able to do that, so I didn’t mind taking that role.”
Walsh, who graduated in 2008 and also now lives in Los Angeles where he has worked on a variety of television production projects, including episodes of the “Dirty Jobs” series, served as “The Australia Project’s” cameraman. He, too, appears on camera in some scenes, depending on the activity.
“When I entered CMU as a freshman,” says Bronson, 22. “I always had the idea that I did want to study abroad or travel to another country.”
“Then, as I got more involved with the student-run TV station,” he says, “that’s when the idea sparked, that, hey, I might be able to match my interest in going abroad with my interest related to something in video.”
Both Bronson and Walsh had been involved with the campus television station, Moore Hall Television. They were familiar with their equipment and had been mapping out their plans for the documentary for some time.
The two began taping for their project long before they got on a plane, documenting their efforts to choose a destination, as well as the planning, paperwork and preparation involved in interning abroad.
“Leading up to our trip, we were raising money to do this,” Bronson says. “We got a lot of support from our campus community, the dean’s office, our college president and the College of Communications and Fine Arts.”
As they began their journey toward Australia, the camera became a near-constant presence and a window on a variety of their experiences, from getting lost in the maze of Sydney’s public transit system, to traversing rugged roads and small towns in the outback, to surfing waves off the Gold Coast.
All told, Bronson and Walsh shot 80-some hours of tape for “The Australia Project,” which once edited, comprised just two total hours of run time for all five episodes.
“We weren’t shooting anything and everything so we weren’t wasting our tape and wasting our time,” Bronson says.
For Bronson, the internship at the film school included being put in charge of planning a large-scale student film festival, securing sponsors, arranged venues, writing radio promotions, compiling 70+ student films for DVD distribution, and assisting staff with their new student enrollment program.
It was a busy schedule full of real-life professional lessons that made it challenging to also explore and work on the documentary.
“This was the first time any of us had produced a show on our own,” Bronson says. “It was the first time anyone from our school had shot a show outside the state or even the country.”
“There was a lot riding on it,” Bronson says.
Not only did Bronson and Walsh earn college credits and gain professional skills through the making of the documentary, but they also had their resulting work aired on both the campus television station and local public television station.
“The Australia Project” also has won several awards.
For Bronson, the project and interning abroad also taught some life lessons.
“It teaches you how to be independent,” he says, “and that if you have a will, you can get things done.”
Will there be future episodes?
“We’d like to go again,” Bronson says, “and totally focus on making a documentary that’s even better than this one.”Print
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