All along, the goal of the MAPS Media Institute has been to train students for jobs in film production. That's why it is so gratifying for executive director Laura Henderson that the program has attracted some high-profile paying clients recently.
"We are doing more in-house work than ever before," she said. "We're very excited."
MAPS was formed in 2004 at Corvallis High School as a state-approved accredited art class, but in 2009 evolved into an after-school media arts program serving all five Ravalli County high schools.
Right now, MAPS students are working on five important projects for a wide variety of paying clients: State Farm Insurance, Montana PBS, the Office of Governor Brian Schweitzer, Montana Vocational Rehab and the Ravalli County Fair.
"This reinforces our curriculum goal of having our students involved in real world media production," said MAPS founder/president Peter Rosten. "And it also helps pay for the program. This is proof that public/private partnerships work. This is something that public education should consider."
The first client came when Rosten showed officials from State Farm Insurance a PSA that MAPS students created about the dangers of texting and driving, and the insurance company gave them a grant to produce four more PSA-style messages.
The kids will have help writing the messages, Rosten said, but they will be heavily involved in the production.
"Our kids are phenomenal technicians, but writing is still a skill you cannot learn as quickly as learning Final Cut Pro," he said.
Last year, MAPS students produced a history of their own program for Montana PBS, and were asked to record a second installment that will air this spring.
Also last year, MAPS students produced a math/science PSA with the governor's wife, Nancy Schweitzer, and were asked to do another one this year.
"They are paying us to do another spot," Rosten explained. "The big idea is it is about being good neighbors. So we'll deliver that in the spring and it will air statewide."
As a way to give back to the community, the program is also producing a documentary about the Ravalli County Fair pro bono.
"This is a community service effort," Rosten said. "Deb Rogala, the fairgrounds manager, asked us to shoot a behind-the-scenes of the fair. The content of the show will be "Meet Ravalli County." The kids did it as a thank you to the community, and they had a lot of fun filming it."
Lastly, the students are working with the Montana Vocational Rehabilitation program to produce a segment.
"It's a program for disabled young Montanans," Rosten said. "They came to us last January, and we worked it out around June, after we agreed on the fee. One of the original MAPS students, Luke McLean, went there and he got some interviews and some B-roll. It was just so positive and upbeat. So we are producing a piece on how it can help, what it does, and it's a really inspiring piece. It's great that we have Luke on board helping the current students. Perhaps it's indicative of one of our goals, which is once you've gone through MAPS we will hire you to be a teacher."
The MAPS students are also working with the after-school program at Corvallis High School. Henderson said that she just wants people to know that her students are interested in working with the community.
"MAPS is out in the community," she said. "It's nice for people to know that we are trying to include everybody."
For more information, visit online at www.mapsmediainstitute.com.
Reach reporter David Erickson at 363-3300 or email@example.com.