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Northwest Arkansas A/V festival to have strong U of O presence

October 16, 2014
By cnp
Posted in Communication Studies

One of the largest audio/video festivals in the region will have a strong University of the Ozarks flavor when it gets under way next week in Northwest Arkansas.

Spring Creek Festival 2014 will take place October 23-25 at the Jones Center in Springdale. The festival allows high school and college students to collaborate with professionals in film production, television, theater, music and photography. The second-year event includes competitions, workshops, leadership councils and college career fairs.

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Ozarks alumnus Trent Jones is the co-founder of the Spring Creek Festival, one of the largest A/V events in this part of the country.

Ozarks will be well-represented at the event. The festival was co-founded by U of O alumnus Trent Jones, who graduated from Ozarks with a degree in communications in 2002. Jones is the multi-media coordinator for the Springdale School District.  In addition, several students from Ozarks’ Radio/Television/Video program will take part in the festival and several other students and faculty members will attend.

In the Student Film category, Ryan West’s documentary, "Oh My: An Art Show by Abby Kern," and Billy Easley’s "Behind Gameday," will be screened. Also, Corey Pintado’s "KUOZ Productions Promo" will be screened in the Broadcast category.  A total of eight Ozarks students along with Director of Broadcasting Susan Edens and Professors Dr. Greta Marlow and Dr. Rhonda Shook will be at the festival to promote the University’s RTV and communication programs.

"Most of the high schools in Arkansas with A/V programs will be there, so we have a full day of interaction with those students and their teachers," Edens said. "They get to see our work and we get to see and sometimes serve as judges on their work. We will have someone from the Admission Office on the student information panel and we will do an interactive booth and be able to attend the workshops. "

After graduating from Ozarks, Jones worked in TV broadcasting for three years before going into high school teaching and administration in 2005. He said the idea for the Spring Creek Festival came about when he saw a lack of opportunities for his high school students to display their work.

"I would have all these students doing these wonderful projects and there was nowhere for them to showcase their work," Jones said. "We wanted an event where 17- and 18-year-olds who have a passion for film, or broadcast or photography could come and interact with other like-minded teenagers and meet with college professors and professionals and show their talents. We want them to discover the many opportunities that are out there for them."

Jones teamed up with Mike Gilbert, chief operating officer for the Jones Trust, to start the festival in 2013. The festival, which is completely free for all participants and audience members, is under the Jones Center umbrella. It drew about 400 entrants last year. This year’s event already has more than 600 entries and officials are expecting total attendance to exceed 700.

"From everything we can tell, this is the largest A/V festival of its kind in the Midwest," Jones said. "It’s been amazing how much interest there has been. We’ll have students from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas at this year’s event."

One of the unique aspects of the festival is a leadership council made up of representatives from secondary, post-secondary, industry and government. This collaboration is intended to build a stronger work-force in the industry.

"We want to figure out ways to better train our students and to get them on the pathway to ultimately having the skills and experience to be marketable," Jones said. "If we can help these students find mentors within the industry, it’s going to be a win-win for everybody. There are a lot of fun and entertaining things going on at this festival, but at the end of the day it’s about creating opportunities for these kids in a field that they love. A lot of festival promote products, but this festival is about promoting growth."

Jones said that a decade of teaching has made him appreciate even more the education he received at Ozarks.

"I left Ozarks with the skills to do well in the industry, but I also feel like I learned about the importance of providing opportunities for people who may be less fortunate and how important it is to give back to our communities," Jones said. "Professors like Dr. Jane Cater, Fred Kinslow and others have been very influential in my life and I think about those things I learned from them every day."