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Local cameras ready to flim Punxsy’s story for WPSU-TV’s ‘Our Town’

August 11, 2011

WPSU-TV producers Whitney Chirdon (left) and Jessica Peters discuss the “Our Town: Punxsutawney” project Wednesday with local residents at the Jackson Theater. (Photo by Tom Chapin/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — About 20 local residents heard about WPSU-TV’s proposed “Our Town: Punxsutawney” Wednesday evening in the Jackson Theater, with several story ideas suggested and cameras issued to those ready to start rolling.

“You get to tell us what you want in the show,” said Jessica Peters, who, along with fellow WPSU-TV producer Whitney Chirdon, described the process of coming up with ideas and stories, filming scenes of those stories and talking about them before all the stories are edited and prepared for a revisited “Our Town: Punxsutawney” set to air in October.
The first “Our Town: Punxsutawney” aired in 2000. It was a WPSU viewer who recently watched “Our Town: Reynoldsville” who suggested to the station that after 11 years, it revisit Punxsy.

WPSU-TV serves 29 counties in western and central Pennsylvania.

“We get to come in and tell the good stories,” Peters said.

Attendees got to see an example of another “Our Town,” an episode about DuBois, in which Bruce Cornelius discussed the DuBois Barbershop Choir.
Peters said the station is looking for between 20 and 25 stories for the upcoming, hour-long “Our Town: Punxsutawney.” Each story — running about two minutes each — must have a volunteer to narrate the piece.

Narrators need not come up with an elaborate script. Chirdon said, “We turn a casual conversation into a narrative to go with the story.’
Peters and Chirdon had a few pieces of video and recording equipment for those prepared to begin filming right away. They also stressed the fact that there is no such thing as too much footage.

“Never think you’re giving us too much, because you’re not,” Chirdon said.

“Whatever you talk about, you need photos or video to back it up,” Peters added.

Residents who wish to film footage of a story have between now and Sunday, Aug. 21, to do so. That day, the producers will collect the footage for all the stories and conduct the interviews that pertain to the stories.

Those who film footage are welcome to use still photos as well, provided that photos — such as framed pieces — are not too large. The producers will have a scanner on had during the interviews to scan photos and return them to their owners on-site.

Once producers have edited the final cut of the program, WPSU-TV will host a screening for only those who took part in the show’s creation, as well as a live studio event when the program airs in early October.

“This is your story, so you give us the tools to tell your stories,” Peters said.

IDEAS, PLEASE
Some possible ideas discussed for the new “Our Town: Punxsutawney” — set to air in early October — include service and social clubs, industry, volunteer fire companies, history, Punxsy’s huge population of recreational walkers and even chili cook-offs.

Think you have a good story, too?

Even if you missed Wednesday’s informational meeting with WPSU-TV for the “Our Town” project, there’s still time to get involved — but the sooner, the better.

Tips for appearing on camera and production manuals are available at the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce downtown.

For more information, to suggest or begin filming a story, contact Jessica Peters at 814-863-6224, or e-mail jessicapeters@psu.edu, or Whitney Chirdon at 814-863-6634, or e-mail whitney@psu.edu.

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