BRATTLEBORO—For the fourth time in seven years, Brattleboro Community Television Production Manager Roland Boyden earned the station an award from the Alliance for Community Media for his annual outreach film.
This year’s entry, “Surprise! There’s a TV station in Brattleboro,” is a four-minute montage, produced by Boyden, that introduces viewers to the public access station, answers questions about community media, and shows clips from its programming, including some behind-the-scenes footage.
Boyden, who began working with BCTV 12 years ago — a few months before he graduated from high school — is leaving the area at the end of May to move with his partner, Paige Martin, to Philadelphia.
“It’s the end of an era,” says the news release, which goes on to note, “Over the years, Boyden’s technical abilities and enthusiasm for community media transformed the station into one of the most productive and innovative stations in Vermont, with 1,500 new local shows created annually."
This year’s Alliance for Community Media contest also gave BCTV a Hometown Media Award for “Overall Excellence in Public Education or Government Access.”
The award “recognizes an organization for its overall operational activities and programming efforts,” according to the category description.
It was the second time in three years that BCTV received the top prize for stations with budgets under $300,000. To enter the contest, BCTV submitted a 15-minute video with excerpts from 13 programs produced by staff and volunteers in 2017, along with details about BCTV’s services and reach.
“Every year, we make an outreach video just for our own uses,” Boyden said. “We try really hard to make it look modern, with lots of engaging graphics. It’s fun for me, and a good reminder of all the good things we do.”
Public access and local news are two big passions for Boyden.
In 2011, he developed a 15-minute short-form news program, “5:45 Live,” that aired on BCTV for five years.
“I was really into news writing and coverage, and I wanted to tackle live production and working on a deadline,” Boyden said.
Boyden served as the show’s anchor, and he wrote the news stories. “The boots-on-the-ground filming was all volunteer,” he said, pointing out how much he loved working with the large group of camera operators. “I’d come into work and there were all these cards on my desk with notes from the crew about how they got good footage,” sometimes for unanticipated stories, he said.
Interest in video production came at a young age for Boyden. “I had a Hi8, a real cheap tape camcorder, and as a kid I made music videos and action-adventure films with my friends,” he said. “It really resonated with me as a creative outlet."
Through the public school system, Boyden received the training and experience he needed to get paid employment through BCTV. He took classes with Michel Moyse at the Windham Regional Career Center’s digital filmmaking program, where he helped make a feature-length film.
That experience led to Boyden’s meeting Tim Wessel, who served on BCTV’s board of directors at the time, and Wessel introduced him to the station’s management. Soon after, in 2006, Boyden began working as a part-time assistant technician.
By “absorbing the general production stuff,” and learning to interact with members of the public who wanted to produce programs at the station, Boyden worked his way up to a full-time job in 2010.
At the end of May, he will end his career at BCTV and move to Philadelphia, where he has a few summer freelance gigs lined up.
Boyden, who is 29 years old, said the time is right to move to a city. “If I wasn’t going to leave sometime soon, I never would,” he noted. “It’s a pretty tough decision, especially leaving this station, which I love, but it’s time to see what else is out there for me.”
“I’ve been working here since I was 17. It’s exciting to have some open space to try new things,” Boyden said.
He wants to stay in public access television because “I do really love it."
When asked what he’ll miss most about BCTV, Boyden said “being part of the process of getting people more confident” in their ability to create a program, especially if they show up with no technical skills and little comfort with production.
“There’s a lot to be gained shepherding someone else through the process,” he said, and that includes his own continuing production education. “We try to make the barrier as low as possible,” he said. “You just need an idea, and if you’re willing to spend a little time on it, having no technical experience is okay.”
“I’ve made good friends with the volunteers and staff, and I’ll miss them,” Boyden said.
‘Someone who is kind’
When searching for a new production manager, Boyden said “we wanted someone who is kind,” and has technical skills.
BCTV found that person in Brian Bashaw, who began training in early May.
Bashaw came to BCTV from Falls Area Community Television, in Bellows Falls, where he served as the technical director.
Bashaw, a Bellows Falls native, moved to Brattleboro last summer when his partner, Nicole Plympton, got a teaching job at the Academy School.
“I liked working at FACT, but I saw the job and said, ‘Why not?’ It’s a better commute,” Bashaw said.
Although he said he plans to “continue [Roland’s] legacy the best I can,” he noted “in this world of video, change happens rapidly.” One change Bashaw would like to make is to form a club geared toward making a short film, possibly one per year, where participants can learn writing, story-boarding, and producing.
Bashaw said he appreciates the chance to start before Boyden leaves, so he can shadow him.
“Roland’s been here so long. He had a hand in designing the studio,” Bashaw said.
If Boyden could give his successor one piece of advice, what would it be? “To stay enthusiastic about people’s ideas, even if it’s not your interests,” he said, and added, “you’re their tech support, and you’re part of their team."
“It’s a communal learning process, and especially with editing, it’s a group effort. Stay excited to be a part of that,” Boyden told Bashaw. “That enthusiasm keeps the volunteers excited."
Bashaw is already on his way. “I love tech and learning new things, and making new connections. I’ve met a bunch of producers and volunteers [at BCTV] and they’re really cool people,” he said.
“That’s what public access is: a space for the community to come and get their creative juices flowing, and we give them support. That’s what I’m excited about,” Bashaw said.
Bashaw wants people to “come say hi” to him at BCTV, whether they are newcomers or people who “haven’t been here in awhile."
“Maybe we could help them with their future television project. That’s what we — and I — love to do,” Bashaw said.
“It makes me feel better about leaving, being able to hand off all those relationships we’ve built to Brian,” Boyden said.
“If Roland dares give me his number, I’ll send him a lot of text messages” with questions, Bashaw admitted.
Boyden said that’s fine: “I’ll miss talking about HDMI cables!"