Emmy Award-winning director to host filmmaking workshop

The ICA and the VCU Robertson School partnered to host a workshop featuring Jesse Vaughn. Photo by Noah Mondon

Emily Richardson, Staff Writer

The Institute for Contemporary Art and the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture are hosting a two-part workshop starting Feb. 9, featuring award-winning director and VCU alum Jesse Vaughan.

Over the course of his career, Vaughan has been nominated for 64 Emmy Awards and has won 36, according to Vaughan. His practical workshop, presented by the ICA’s Community Media Center, will explore the art and fundamentals of filmmaking through scene blocking, rehearsals and camera angles, according to the ICA website.

Vaughan’s connection to VCU and Richmond runs back to the 1980s, when he was a student in the broadcast journalism program and working at WTVR-TV6, according to Vaughan.

By his junior year at VCU, Vaughan was directing the weekend news at CBS 6. At 22, he started at NBC where he worked on shows like “Meet the Press,” “NBC Nightly News,” and “The Today Show.” The rest of Vaughan’s directorial work includes commercials, music videos and feature films, according to the ICA.

Emmy Award-winning Jesse Vaughn will host workshop with the ICA and the Robertson School. Photo courtesy of Jesse Vaughn

Now, he is the chief marketing and communications officer at the Richard Bland College of William & Mary, where he makes content promoting higher education to young people, according to Vaughan.

At his workshop, Vaughan said he wants to help students and community members understand what it takes to be successful in filmmaking.

“There’s certain things that studios and advertising agencies look for in terms of your knowledge about filmmaking,” Vaughan said. “It goes beyond the classroom and it’s more practical knowledge.”

The fundamentals of filmmaking are consistent across formats, Vaughan said. Some of those fundamentals include how to cover a scene, how to shoot a scene and how to coordinate your project.

“You see Michael Jordan go up for his fancy layup, but when the ball hits the glass, he knew what the proper spin was to get it in the basket,” Vaughan said. “You can take all these risks and chances creatively, but underneath all that there’s some basic fundamentals that need to be adhered to.”

The workshop is a collaboration between Vaughan, the Virginia Production Alliance, the ICA and the Robertson School, according to the Roberton School’s Instagram post. 

The workshop compliments the mass communication program’s recently-launched concentration, media production, which covers a number of principles of filmmaking. 

Andres Fontan Sanchez, a student in the media production program, plans to pursue a career related to filmmaking. The media production program has helped to develop a versatile skill set he might not have in a film or photography program, Sanchez said.

“I’m not just a videographer, I’m not just a photographer,” Sanchez said. “I feel like when a job comes up in terms of media production, I’ll be able to do different things.”

Sanchez plans to attend the workshop as an aspiring filmmaker, one of the reasons being that he has met Vaughan in the past at a Virginia High School League Film Festival. At the festival, Vaughan encouraged the high school student filmmakers to pursue their goals, Sanchez said.

Chioke I’Anson, ICA’s Community Media Center director, said everyone can benefit from media production regardless of their path or major.

“We all watch movies, music videos and videos on our phones,” I’Anson said. “Knowing about the production of those things helps us to become better consumers of the media that we encounter.”

When you see the effort that goes into something like a video production you can appreciate it more, I’Anson said.

“Your receptivity and criticality will increase if you know more about how the thing is made, what it took, the kind of work that went into it and its vision,” I’Anson said.

The workshop begins Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Institute for Contemporary Art, finishing with a second part at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond on Feb. 11.

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