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Meet Student and Photography Field Producer for Bentonville Film Festival
We had the opportunity to interview NWACC business student and Ozark Media Arts Festival (OMAF) Photography Field Producer Amanda Thattanakham. OMAF recently partnered with the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) to cover the inclusion-focused event and create the Student Media Creators program for high school and college students. The program offers students an opportunity to build their experience by capturing video, photo and social media content for the BFF.
As the photography field producer for the festival, Amanda was involved in choosing students for the program – including three NWACC students: Courtney Boyd, Diego Escobar and Amber Karnish - and coordinating the students’ efforts throughout the festival.
Read further to learn about Amanda’s experience, the Student Media Creators program, and the importance of pursuing an education in creative fields.
Amanda with NWACC student media creators, Courtney, Diego and Amber.
Hometown: Springdale, AR
Area of study: Associates of Science in Business
Graduation: Spring 2020
Future plans: Transfer to the U of A and attend the Walton College of Business.
Please explain your role as a photography field producer for the Ozark Media Arts Festival (OMAF) and your role
in the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF).
My role as the photography field producer for the OMAF started last year when I joined the Ozark Media Arts team. Regarding the OMAF, I am the festival director and was previously the communications director.
As the partnership between OMAF and Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) formed, my specific role to BFF was then the photography field producer. As the photography field producer, it is my responsibility to oversee the application process for potential photography team members, assign team members to events and areas at BFF, coach photographers to tailor to the needs of the BFF marketing team, gather all assets, curate what is sent to BFF for their usage on social media platforms and promotional materials, and design BFF testimonials, as well as photographing key events at the festival.
This will be my third year with the BFF. My first year, I was a camera operator for
the house media team as a senior in high school. Last year and this 2019 festival,
I’m the photography field producer. This will be my second year in charge of the OMAF
photography team that creates content for BFF. The BFF marketing team receives our
content and curates what is posted on their social platforms.
What’s the application process like for a student interested in joining the student media creator program?
The application process for a student is very simple. Students who are interested, fill out a form online where they are asked about their confidence in their photography, editing and interviewing skills and are asked to provide a portfolio. After an initial screening, I reach out to applicants to ask for more work, specifically portrait and event photography examples, and conduct a phone interview. Students then tell me about their qualifications in photography, editing and interviewing and share why they enjoy photography and why they would be the best candidate. Then, they are given a decision.
The biggest things that I’m looking for is their passion for photography, readiness, excitement to work and their technical skills. There are always events happening during the festival and they happen quickly. The ideal student media creator has a good attitude, a good eye, and is always ready to capture the moments of celebration of women, diversity and inclusion.
With each year, the number of student media creators grow. This year, there are 30 student media creators, 10 in photo, 20 in video and a few interns.
Since Trent Jones founded OMAF, the mission has been to connect education to industry
for the last eight years and thus the focus on finding student creators. OMAF values
align with BFF- we believe in inclusion and diversity. With that being said, we look
at applicants from high school and college institutions all over the state of Arkansas
and hope that with each student media creator we bring onto the team will bring in
Can you explain what a day working the BFF would be like for a media creator?
Student media creators will start their day at the OMAF/ BFF operations headquarters, receive their press pass and daily assignment, capture moments and share stories of the people of BFF, put together their days' worth of work, and then we turn around and deliver those assets to the BFF marketing team.
The students are always rushing from one event to the next, and then they're sitting
down, editing, trying to turn that around in time for the next event because BFF really
wants daily turn around, and we try to meet those goals every single day for all the
What’s been your favorite part of working this year’s BFF festival?
I think my favorite part is getting to learn about the student media creators - what they're good at, what they prefer, and then also sending them to stuff that you can tell on their face, it makes them uncomfortable because it’s out of their comfort zone, but that’s how they grow.
The students are in new situations where maybe lighting is not ideal, or they have
to move quicker than they would like to, or they don't have time to look over all
their work. It's shoot and go. It's watching them grow and learning from them and
how I can be a better leader and learning about their technical skills.
I understand that BFF has a number of blue carpet events for the filmmakers. Can you explain what a blue carpet event is?
Sure, we actually have four this year. The blue carpet is a time for all of the media to be there and interview the filmmakers that are present at the film festival. We had a blue carpet at Crystal Bridges. Filmmakers lined up, there are rows of media, photos here, videos here, and they just go down the line. We get pictures and interviews, and then they get to talk about why they love their film and the importance of Bentonville Film Festival, and then usually it follows or leads up to a premier.
NWACC President Dr. Jorgenson visiting with NWACC student media creators, Courtney, Amanda and Diego.
How do you think NWACC has helped prepare you to be a photography field producer and work a festival like OMAF or BFF?
I currently take all my classes online from NWACC. As an NWACC student, the distance learning program has allowed me to be flexible with my work and school schedule. The flexibility allows me to partake in unique opportunities such as working as the OMAF photography field producer for BFF and to serve as the festival director of the OMAF.
Regarding the courses that I have taken through NWACC, the Film Arts course taught
by Dr. Bolinder gave me the opportunity to exercise the creativity in my brain. Understanding
what elements are used to tell stories and how they are used, allows me to be a better
storyteller at the BFF. My classes through NWACC’s distance learning program have
also strengthened my communication and organization skills. My roles in both events
require organization and time management. NWACC has helped me with that.
Why do you think it’s important for students to major in creative fields such as graphic design, photography, videography, etc.? Why should it be encouraged?
All of these creative fields give us more platforms to tell stories. It would be a bland world if we didn’t have photographers to capture special moments, graphic designers to create something that evokes emotion, or filmmakers to share the stories that the world needs to hear. Majoring in creative fields should be encouraged because it is enriching and essential. We can solve problems through the work we do.
Interested in pursuing a higher education in the arts? There’s a place for you here. Visit nwacc.edu or call 479-986-4000 to learn more about enrolling at NWACC.
Interested in learning more about the Student Media Creators program? Contact Ozark Media Arts Festival.