Digital Media Major Remains Grateful for BVU Collaboration

From his first day as a student, until his graduation, Zach Hess stayed busy behind the scenes with BVTV, filming and producing videos for a variety of events on campus.

On his first day as a Buena Vista University undergraduate, Zachary Hess participated in a production executed by members of the digital media program.

On his first day as a BVU alum, Hess did the same.

“In my freshman year, on my first day of class, I ran a camera for a segment being put together for the broadcast of a football game,” Hess says. “The day after my graduation this May, I stuck around on campus to direct the broadcast of the BVU master’s and Class of 2020 Commencement ceremonies for BVTV. I love that I was able to immediately help as an alum. It was an amazing experience getting to celebrate my peers who graduated at the start of the pandemic and witness the growth of underclassmen digital media students stepping up to leadership in a professional-level production.”

Hess’ experiences as a digital media major are taking him to Chapman University in Orange, Calif., where he’ll seek to earn his master’s in film production with an emphasis in film editing.

His Chapman University destination has a direct BVU digital media tie as that’s where “Growing Magic: The Mickey Mouse Cornfield Story,” enjoyed its West Coast premier in 2019. Hess, a sophomore at the time, accompanied the BVU contingent on that junket, as Hess spent the previous summer serving as Production Assistant for Jerry Johnson, BVU Assistant Professor of Digital Media.

“In my freshman year, on my first day of class, I ran a camera for a segment being put together for the broadcast of a football game.”

Zach Hess

“Premiering a documentary at a school is an interesting way to learn about that school,” Hess says. “I wrote about the experience of visiting the school in my admissions essay.”

When he lands in California, Hess will pick up an award before he begins class. His “Lakeshore Drive” science fiction mystery earned a bronze medal in the short-film category at the Los Angeles Science Fiction and Horror Festival on July 23.

“That was the first festival I’ve submitted the film to,” says Hess, describing his BVU senior capstone project that follows a reporter looking to uncover the mysterious disappearance of people in a fictional lakeside town.

Another Hess short film, “Date Night,” is an 11-minute production adapted from a Sheri Davenport screenplay and shot in the Storm Lake Public Library. The romantic comedy following two 50-somethings through their speed-dating foibles was nominated for an award in the students’ short-film category at the Iowa Motion Picture Awards. It will screen at the Iowa Independent Film Festival in September.

The honors help cap an undergraduate time in which Hess managed BVTV, served as an intern for IPTV, helped produce a podcast for The Storm Lake Times, shot still photos in Ireland, directed multiple live TV productions, and more.

Zach Hess, BVU digital media major.
Zach Hess

“Even during the pandemic, BVTV was very productive,” Hess says. “We did something like 48 productions through the course of COVID-19.”

And while the awards and ensuing opportunities are rewarding, Hess remains most grateful for the word he came to know best during his time as a BVU digital media member: Collaboration.

“In my time at BVU, I’ve worked with animators in the art department, with music students in music production, with coaches and professors, and even with Rich Crow, Director of BVU’s Institute for Agriculture, for the Beaver Drone Services they’re running,” Hess says.  “I’ve also worked with students in every grade. And that’s what I’m most proud of; that as a senior Station Manager, I helped prepare students to be leaders in this program after I’m gone. We brought freshmen in, just as I was brought in, and we made them want to collaborate, to create something great. To be a part of the team.”