Lights, cameras ... learning at MetroEast Community Media
He was sitting on the couch watching the first "Harry Potter" movie with his cousin when Dajour Mckinley was struck by inspiration — he wanted to make his own films.
"We were halfway through the movie when we looked at each other and said, 'We could do this,'" Mckinley said.
Despite having no formal training, Mckinley dove in head-first. The first video he ever filmed was a day-by-day vlog, or video log, where he shared what was going on in his life. From there he began to come up with his own plots and worlds, morphing his many ideas into short movies and episodes that he shared on his YouTube channel, "Primacy Mob."
About a year ago Mckinley, who had been self-taught, got hooked in with experts who helped guide his burgeoning film production. A friend of his told him about MetroEast Community Media, the Gresham-based organization that helps to empower local government, community groups and nonprofit organizations through media.
"I started taking all the classes, and have been here ever since," Mckinley said. "They pushed my limits, got me to do new things."
The 20-year-old learned how to operate things in the studio from the control room, got hands-on experience with high-tech cameras, attended a music video camp, and learned how to edit via new software. The classes and teaching helped refine Mckinley's directing and filming techniques.
"Be ready to learn. You have to pay attention," he said. "The first day I was so overwhelmed, but I learned so much here."
Now Mckinley is one of the interns at MetroEast, located at 829 N.E. Eighth St. Through them he has access to two full production studios and four edit suites. They also have cameras, lighting kits and two mobile units available for use.
"One of the most exciting aspects of our internship program is the development of their professional portfolio, which leads to paid freelancing and full-time employment opportunities," said MetroEast CEO Martin Jones. "Some of our interns even become paid contractors for MetroEast."
Opportunities for knowledge
For Erika Saito, interning at MetroEast was the perfect opportunity to explore hobbies while practicing her English. From Nagano, Japan, Saito is studying English at Pacific International Academy, via Marylhurst University, in Lake Oswego. The 21-year-old has been in Oregon for the past nine months, and during her time here she was told about the opportunity for interning at MetroEast.
"I'm interested in video and taking pictures," Saito said. "Even though I don't have any specific knowledge, it's a new experience and I like it."
With MetroEast, Saito has been editing videos, adding subtitles and effects to help polish them for final use.
"The people here are very nice and kind," she said. "It's advantageous because it's smaller and you can ask for help."
MetroEast tries to have between two to six interns, and many opportunities are available. For $25, anyone in the community can access unlimited workshops for a year. Training is available in both studio production and field production. Classes teach about the control room, cameras, directing, audio, editing and much more.
Teaching skills that are useful regardless of the industry, these are the same types of classes that hooked Mckinley.
"You could not even know what a camera or television is," Jones said. "There are no prerequisites."
For Jones, training through the classes and internships is an important way to help the community. There is a growing need for people who understand how to make videos and other media tasks inside of businesses and nonprofit groups.
"The crux of what we do is train everyone in how to use these tools to create their stories," he said.
Everything Mckinley has learned at MetroEast has helped him in his most ambitious project. He is using his new skills to create a movie, called "Dark City." The film follows three best friends who discover they have powers, from super speed to telekinesis. It was a story Mckinley wrote with his cousin, inspired by some of their favorite superhero comics and movies.
A lot of what Mckinley has done is through inspiration, following ideas he has seen in his own life. One movie idea he is working on is based on his time going to school in the Beaverton area, where he found himself the only black student among his peers. Another is for a comedy following two friends in the "hood" who stand out because of their nerdy hobbies. Even his most fantastic tales of powers are grounded in his reality.
"A lot of the stuff I've seen in my life has helped me come up with these ideas," Mckinley said. "Not a lot of kids my age in the place I live are doing this. I want to show kids without special abilities to play sports there are things like this open to them."
As for his time at MetroEast, Mckinley said he wouldn't trade it for the world. He has learned a lot while there, benefiting from being able to pick the minds of the 20 seasoned professionals who work at the organization.
"I'd love to be here as long as I can," he said. "I like the way they work and what they are doing for the community."
Favorite movie: any action movie
Favorite band/artist: Pentatonix
Favorite food: Dumplings
Favorite movie: "Chronicle"
Favorite band/artist: Kid Cudi
Favorite food: Pizza
Check out Mckinley's videos at http://bit.ly/2CYrSjx?