Griffons in the (Production) House

As the state’s designated Applied Learning University, Missouri Western is uniquely positioned to offer opportunities that extend beyond the classroom. These hands-on experiences enable students to grow, explore and ultimately grasp how the knowledge they learned in the classroom works outside the walls.

One such opportunity emerging from Potter Hall, but available to students of all disciplines, is Griffon Production House (GPH). Originating from conversations between students and cinema professor Thomas Brecheisen, GPH encourages students to hone their craft in cinematic arts, learn how to work with others toward a common goal and see how pieces of the big picture fit together.

Students from any major can participate, with opportunities ranging from production and camera operation to editing and special effects. With a variety of projects, students can find an opportunity that sparks their cinematic passion.

GPH is truly a student-led applied learning opportunity with three affiliates: GPH Live!, Griffon University and Fauxtoreality.

GPH Live! films and produces video of live performances on campus and in the community. Recently, to help overcome the restriction on live audiences, more than a dozen Missouri Western students from cinema, music and art worked in collaboration with A/V students from Central High School in St. Joseph on two video productions of Central’s musical, “The Addam’s Family.” 

“This was a sweet moment because we helped these wonderful students … share their hard work and talent with their family and friends who couldn’t see them live,” Brecheisen said. “It’s one of my most cherished experiences, and I’m very proud of our students’ service to our community.”

The possibility for collaboration with Missouri Western’s research students is impressive, too. Through another affiliate, Griffon University, students produce videos of Missouri Western research in short, easy-to-digest formats that can be easily consumed in today’s fast-paced, digital world.

These productions rely heavily on greenscreen, motion graphics and visual effects. Post-production visual effects are the essence of the third affiliate – Fauxtoreality. “Visual effects [VFX] aren’t just spaceships and aliens,” Brecheisen said. “VFX artists are the only artists who don’t want you to see their work. It should be invisible to the audience to increase their suspension of belief.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” Brecheisen added. “Students are learning these new techniques, and that makes our BAA unique across the country. We’ve infused [VFX] in our program so the students can start using it.” The unparalleled opportunities provided to students through this program prepare them to enter the fast-paced career field upon graduation by keeping them up to date with industry standards.

Ultimately, these students are using the techniques they are learning in the classroom. And these experiences afford a great advantage when starting their careers.

“I don’t want them to be job-ready when they graduate. Because of GPH, students will be job-ready before they graduate,” Brecheisen says. When going for a job interview, he says he doesn’t want them to hear “you’re hired,” but rather, “Where have you been all my life!?”

Although still in its infancy, GPH is certainly a house we’re glad to have on our block! 

          – Contributed by Patti Long

artisting rendering of a student looking through a camera