Jon Mark Beilue: Being the creative messenger


WT students work with Canyon on award-winning videos


It was a pretty simple and logical connecting of the dots.

Randy Ray, director of broadcast engineering and associate lecturer of media communication at West Texas A&M University, is also in his second two-year term as a Canyon city commissioner.

The city of Canyon, as well as the Canyon Chamber of Commerce, was in need of some promotional and marketing material.

Ray’s advanced video production class needed a semester project that would promote “service learning.”

The result were three videos of 59 seconds, 1:04 and 2:45 in length that promoted the city of Canyon and Canyon Chamber of Commerce, and a factual explainer on the city budget and how sales taxes and property taxes were used.

That’s three videos which now have been honored six times.

“I’m really proud of those students,” said Ray, who served as executive producer. “In doing what I do, it’s really easy to be critical. I can’t hardly go to a movie and not be cynical – ‘Why did they frame it that way? Why did they light it this way?’ But that’s just the nature of me being critical of media production.

“Having said that, watching these students work, I was proud of what they produced. I honestly believe they look very professional.”

The videos were produced in the spring semester and completed in May. Several students graduated, so this was a challenging test run on what it would be like post-graduation to work with a client.

Previous videos from the class included students traveling to Israel for a travel documentary for Texans for Israel that the organization used for educational and promotional events, and a 15-minute video for Fill With Hope, a hunger outreach under Canyon Hope Ministries.

“I really believe in the city of Canyon,” said Ray, a Pampa native. “I lived in Tennessee when WT made me a job offer, and I told my wife that if we move back, we’re going to live in Canyon because I love that community. I’ve lived here for 20 years and I’ve grown to love it even more. It’s the jewel of the Texas Panhandle.

“One of the things I thought Canyon needed was a little more marketing, a little more of tooting its own horn because there is a lot to promote.”

In separate videos in 2022, students worked with Canyon Mayor Gary Hinders on the city’s story, with executive director Roger Remlinger on the role of the Chamber of Commerce, and with Canyon city manager Joe Price on how the budget works and how various taxes are used for city services.

“I loved it and was tickled to death they won the awards they did,” Price said. “It was all them. I just did my thing. They got it there. Randy came in to take it from good to great. They put in the hard work and it paid off for everyone.”

A win-win for city of Canyon, WT students

WTStudents_Addys_22Photo: Students from the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities at West Texas A&M University won several ADDY awards at the 2022 American Advertising Awards, hosted by AAF Amarillo, on Feb. 17

Nine students were split into three crews. Jordan Conde, a digital communication and media major from Dumas, directed and edited and Jacob Toon, a digital communication and media major from Flower Mound, and Christian Guerrero, a digital communication and media major from Hereford, filmed the city videos. The Chamber video was directed and edited by Sophia Britto, a digital communication and media major from Amarillo, with Tomi Moralez, a public relations/advertising major from Plainview, and Pedro Lama-Colon, a December graduate from Bedford, in production recordings.

The budget video was directed and edited by Carson Bradley, a digital communication and media major from Plainview, and written by Kara Villarreal, a digital communication and media major from Anthony, who also did production recordings along with Andrew Helterbran, a digital communication and media major from Amarillo.

The videos were honored by the American Advertising Federation, the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers, National Electronic Media Association, and the Telly Awards.

“The biggest thing I learned was the importance of deadlines,” Conde said. “Randy was very strict on us in terms of deadlines which is a very real thing in the real world no matter what industry you’re in.

“A due date is very imperative, and he pushed us to get things done. I didn’t think I had the gusto to get things done, but there was teamwork and collaboration with the other creators.”

There are three phases of production. Pre-planning is writing scripts, deciding what needs to be shot and the message sent. Production is working with the talent on location and creating the shots, and post-production is the tedious amount of editing and putting the story in a cohesive and creative form.

“There was quite a bit of motion graphic work that went into the educational budget video,” Ray said. “Most people don’t realize the amount of work that goes into video production. When you go through all three phases, it can easily take an entire semester.”

Canyon got the videos it wanted, and the students got the experience they needed. Call it a win-win.

“Transparency is super important to me,” Price said, “and I’m trying to get us to the next level in transparency. I just wanted to educate our citizens. We had not done a budget video before and I thought it would be a neat thing to do. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s harder to reach people nowadays. You have to be proactive.”

For Conde, like the rest of the crews, he entered the process not so sure of himself and how the videos would look to now believing the finished work could have been even better.

“By far, the most time-consuming was post-production,” Conde said. “Some nights I would start editing at 6 p.m. and work on and off until 5 a.m. This was on multiple days because I wasn’t confident in myself. Accepting to start over again and make it better and have people look over it has improved my work ethic and the projects I created. Post-production is the most time-consuming and most stressful, but quite honestly the most rewarding.

Students learned that acceptable wasn’t enough and good often wasn’t enough either.

TAMIOawardPhoto: Megan Nelson, director of communications and community engagement for the City of Canyon and a West Texas A&M University alumna, congratulates WT students Christian Guerrero, left; Jordan Conde, second from right; and Jacob Toon, right; on their recent award from the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.

“We had to redo things three or four times to make sure the client was satisfied and to make sure we were satisfied even more,” Conde said. “There were times the client thought it was fine, but we knew we had the potential to give them something more. Looking back, I realize a lot of mistakes we made. I can say now we could do an even better job if we had the chance to do it over again.”

For Ray, the projects each year are part of “service learning” that he emphasizes. It’s where students use what they’ve learned in the classroom to benefit those in the community, especially non-profits and social service groups.

“They have an opportunity to develop civic engagement skills, work with community members while improving their interpersonal communication skills and production skills,” Ray said. “It’s just about working hand in hand with an organization.”


Top photo: Randy Ray, center,director of broadcast engineering and associate lecturer of media communication at West Texas A&M University, reviews a video produced for the City of Canyon with students Jacob Toon, from left, Kara Villarreal and Andrew Helterbran.





City of Canyon budget video: Gold Award from the American Advertising Federation; Award of Honor from Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers; National Electronic Media Association Grand Prize.

Welcome to Canyon video: Silver Award from the American Advertising Federation.

Canyon Chamber of Commerce: Silver Award from the American Advertising Federation; Silver Telly from The Telly Awards.


Do you know of a student, faculty member, project, an alumnus or any other story idea for “WT: The Heart and Soul of the Texas Panhandle?” If so, email Jon Mark Beilue at [email protected] .


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