Junction Arts Media Teams with TA to Document the Making of “Godspell”
October 19, 2023
What does it take to make a high school musical theater performance come to life? A newly released documentary collaboration between TA and Junction Arts Media (JAM), aims to shed light on the process.
This spring, Thetford Academy partnered with Jordyn Fitch, Junction Arts Media’s (JAM) community relations producer, to document the making of the musical Godspell. From lighting to costumes, choreography to set design, Fitch and TA’s Spring Musical class set out to give the world a behind the scenes look at the creative and technical work involved in the show’s production.
Fitch’s time with TA was funded by an Artists in Schools grant from the Vermont Arts Council (VAC). These grants “support quality, multi-day arts experiences in schools with Vermont teaching artists in residence and encourage collaborations between schools, youth, artists, and arts organizations.” VAC’s support has helped bring many teaching artists to TA – from Shakespeare actors to poetry slam-masters – and is a valuable way to connect young people with new, creative experiences.
For Fitch, working with TA’s drama program was a perfect fit. “I was really excited about this specific project,” she said, “I remember brainstorming with Carrie [Brennan] about wanting to do a residency here at TA, but not knowing exactly where to dive in. And when she mentioned the musical theater class, I immediately thought, yup, that’s the winner.” As a “bonafide techie,” Fitch has always loved participating in productions and being a part of the creative community they foster.
Drama teacher Jeff Seabaugh was excited, too. Working with Fitch, he said, “was a wonderful experience, offering students – on both sides of the camera – a glimpse into the world of documentary filmmaking.” Over the course of the semester, Fitch visited the Spring Musical class regularly and trained students to use the film equipment. Fitch and TA sophomore (now junior) Hugo Billiau shot the B-roll, filmed interviews with the show’s cast and crew, and took still photos of the auditions, rehearsals, and production.
The team’s goal was not only to capture the technical aspects of a musical production, but also the community created through the creative process. “As a filmmaker, the most fulfilling aspect of making films is the collaborative nature of the medium,” shared Fitch. “It’s just a bunch of creative minds coming together to generate a new, shared vision. I love that, and I think theater, specifically musical theater, is very similar in that nature.”
For the students, the experience was both exciting and educational. Billiau, who spent time both in front of and behind the camera, says he learned a lot. “”It was fun and rewarding to work with Jordyn and JAM to create this documentary. I got hands-on experience with filming techniques and camera equipment, and I feel prepared to use these skills in a more professional setting.”
The finished product is now on JAM’s YouTube page and as Fitch put it, “outside audiences…will now get a peek behind the curtain into the beautiful community that formed from Godspell at TA.” And hopefully, Seabaugh added, it’s just the beginning of many more collaborations between TA and JAM.
Lead photo credit: Dan Grossman