Former Lane multimedia students are working on the fourth season of the reality show Graveyard Carz at Welby’s Collision Center in Springfield.
The show was originally made to document the repair of a 1971 Plymouth Barracuda. Today, it airs on Discovery’s Velocity channel and documents the restoration of classic Chrysler vehicles, some taking years to be properly restored to their factory condition.
As the show has grown in popularity, room for local talent behind the camera has grown as well. Devin “D.L.” Watson is a former Lane student who started working as a producer for the show in 2012.
“My job is (to) outline the episodes,” Watson said. “I formulate and come up with the vision for the overall show.”
Before his gig with Graveyard Carz, Watson learned how to edit by trial-and-error and watching tutorials.
“I would re-edit a 17-hour season into a (shorter) movie, so I could watch the entire season in two and a half hours,” he said.
Watson started projects like this when he was in his late teens, before he began at Lane. The fundamental knowledge and experience he gained from this process helped him get to where he is today.
“I think that it has helped me become a better filmmaker. You have to know how to edit a film before you know how to shoot a film. You have to know how it’s going to edit in your mind. That way you’re not wasting anybody’s time on set,” he said.
After studying on his own, Watson decided to attend Lane. The college experience provided him with the atmosphere he needed to take his skills to the next level.
He attributes his success, and that of his team, in part to Lane multimedia instructor Jan Halvorsen, Lane Co-op coordinator Teresa Hughes and other members of the Lane staff.
“If it weren’t for Teresa Hughes I wouldn’t be here. It was because of her recommendation,” Watson said. “The most valuable class I ever had was Jan’s (Concep-ts of Visual Literacy) class … . (It) helped me out a lot. There were concepts that I knew about from being exposed to media, but I had no idea what they were called or why they were used. I just knew about them.”
Because of the support they received, Watson and his creative team have decided to give back to Lane by offering qualified students the opportunity to participate in internships. If the internships work out, it is possible to be hired-on.
“We’ve had three or four students that come from Lane and get school credit for helping us out on the show,” Watson said.
There are more than five others on the filming staff that have attended or graduated from Lane.
“I’m only as good as the people I work with. Every guy here has valid input and is essential. We basically all came from Lane,” Watson said. “Ninety percent of the crew here is from Lane.”
Lane multimedia graduates Sam Chambliss and Dan Bernard assist in the making of the show. Chambliss’ primary responsibilities are camera operation and production.
“I basically run camera. I mainly make the show. I’m production so I turn the camera on and off. Sometimes I am given tasks of directing. We’ll do interviews with the guys after a shoot,” Chambliss said.
Bernard works in post-production and editing. Chambliss and Bernard met at Lane during a lighting class.
“The biggest thing I got out of (school) was teamwork.” Chambliss said. “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know and how you get along with people.”
Chambliss decided to drop his shy and introverted nature in order to begin networking in his multimedia major.
“I needed to switch things up. I said, ‘I’m going to make friends with whoever is sitting next to me,’ and it happened to be Dan,” he said.
The merging of these creative and tech-driven minds was a happy accident. Bernard had been recommended by Lane Art and Co-op Instructor, Teresa Hughes.
“I was ready to go into the co-op, then Teresa was like, ‘There’s a guy, I think you have good personalities. You would fit. They’re trying to get this reality show up and running.’ It all just fell together,” Bernard said.
Bernard was among the first to intern for Graveyard Carz. These interns go through an extensive testing process that ensures they have the skills to keep up with the show.
“One of the training exercises that we do when we have new people come on to the show is we give them a camera and we tell them, ‘OK, follow me.’ Then we run around the shop and they have to try and keep us in focus and know how to change their exposure from going inside to outside,” Watson said. “They go through crazy experiences learning how to use their camera so that way, when they’re actually filming the show, they know how to do it.”
Lane recently announced that funding for the arts will be taking a hit. Watson is concerned that this will be a challenge.
“I think it’s a shame that they are cutting funding for the arts. It’s going to make it harder for people who are into multimedia to find work and it’s going to make my job harder to find those people,” he said.
Halvorsen said the department’s financial situation is unfortunate. She believes the issues with funding keep students from freely exploring their options and interests. She has seen similar issues take place since she started teaching and is confident that the department will adapt.
“We’ve encountered these challenges in the past. It might not be that the class is eliminated entirely, it just might not be offered as many times,” she said.
Halvorsen worked closely with Watson during his time at Lane.
“D.L. fully participated,” she said. “He sat down right in front. He participated and he didn’t hold back.”
Before Halvorsen became an instructor at Lane, she worked for different independent producers as an assistant director, location manager, as well as other miscellaneous jobs.
“When I was working I hired a lot of Lane students to work for me because I knew what they could do,” she said. “One of the strong points in our program is our ability to place students into work experience. They allow you to get connections in the industry. A lot of students end up employed out of their internships.”
These internships can take students to unexpected places. The guys filming Graveyard Carz are not what you would call “car crazy.”
“I know more than I would’ve known (about cars),” Chambliss said.
“I don’t know anything about cars. I feel like I’ve grown more of an appreciation and desire to see it completed, since I’ve seen them in their destroyed infancy,” Bernard said. “And seeing that journey and that progress and all the work that goes into it from numerous facets.”
Despite the budget cuts, Watson is still optimistic when it comes to his cohort’s passion for multimedia and filmmaking. He encourages students not to get discouraged, but to keep working hard toward their goals.
Halvorsen said, “There’s no getting out of the hard work. Network: help other people. Get your name out there as someone who is reliable. If you make a reputation out there as someone who will help and pull their own weight in a project, that totally holds in the professional world.”