‘The Living Classroom’ receives two Bronze Telly Awards

Sarah Griffith and Jon-Paul Bakaric released a video called “The Living Classroom” in April, and now the video has won two Telly Awards — Bronze Winner for Sound and Sound Design and Bronze Winner for Videography/Cinematography.

“It’s awesome that we have this award, but I think the more important thing is just the fact that getting this video out and getting the awareness around it and highlighting what these people have been doing — I think that’s the best part about it,” Griffith said.

Griffith and Bakaric work for Oakland University’s Communications and Marketing (UCM) team, and pitched the idea as opposed to being assigned for it. The video was a short documentary on the two biological preserves as a whole, and it highlighted the efforts students and faculty were putting into the preserves. 

“I’ve always been very passionate about environmental sciences and I almost went into the environmental science program, but I decided to do the film program with hopes that I would always be able to combine the two,” Griffith said. “This is the first video that I was able to really work on to combine those two passions together.”

Griffith was able to get hands-on experience while shooting the video, and there is even a point in the video where she can be seen planting flowers alongside the students and professors. 

She went on to say the most difficult part of making the video was trying to piece everything together. The video first began as a feature of the prescribed burn, but the group working on the video continued to go back for more footage to cover other things — such as how students were going to research the aftermath of the burn.

Another goal for the video was to help establish OU as a leader in the fight to protect the ecosystem and the environment in general.

“The preserve is pretty unique to Oakland because there’s a lot of other campuses that have preserves but they’re not right onsite, on campus, whereas the students and faculty here can walk 10 minutes down the road,” Griffith said. “I think it’s great to show prospective students what Oakland has to offer and that the professors are doing amazing work. […] Hopefully it does help to put Oakland’s name out there.”

Griffith went on to say that working with the professors and students was one of her favorite parts because of how much she learned from them. She would learn while shooting the footage and can now identify invasive species herself, just as it was taught through the video.

While this video was very important to Griffith personally, she also believes it is important for other people to watch and learn more about the bigger picture.

“It is part of a larger issue that is our relationship with the environment and with the Earth and a lot of things we’re facing nowadays, like climate change,” she said. “I think something like this is good to just show people a different perspective and hopefully make them think in a slightly different way, reframing how we think, because a lot of people might have grown up in areas that didn’t even have this type of landscape.”

Next up for UCM are more Research Series videos and Legends of OU — but that does not mean this is the last of the longer form documentaries.