FX prepares students that want to continue doing film related studies for the future

The FX logo

The FX logo

What school can say that their announcements are almost entirely student-run and visually captivating? FHC can, all thanks to Forest Exposure

FX began in the late 1980s/early 90s while Media Communications teacher Jeff Manders was a student teacher for the teacher who created it. That teacher decided a new form of communication—broadcasting visual announcements, instead of listening to them over the intercom—would be a great addition to FHC’s regular school day. 

When Manders took over 13 years ago, he felt the need for an updated system. The equipment being used was old—stuff that he used in college in the late 80s. But soon, FX’s old broadcasting equipment was modernized. 

I had a friend of mine who worked out in Detroit for a broadcast company,” Manders said, “and they were updating a bunch of stuff, so they gave us some equipment. And I updated a few things using that donated equipment. Like I said a few years ago, the school board approved [of a] total upgrade, and going digital and HD. We can stream online now, so that’s pretty cool.”

Not only did Manders want to refurbish the technical part of things, but he also wanted to redo the set over this past summer. Many students pitched in and helped create the new set, redoing the lights, and basically just changing the whole look of the show for the new school year.

FX would not be possible without student help, or student interest. Many students applied to take Media Comm without any broadcasting/film background, but Senior Paris Gooch was ahead of the game. 

Paris was a YouTuber around the beginning of her freshman year, gaining inspiration from one YouTuber in particular. 

“[Princess J] really inspired me to really get into making YouTube videos,” Paris said. “And at the time, she was younger, like in high school. And that’s when I started to really want to do it. She really inspired me; we are friends now.”

Since joining FX, Paris has taken a liking to the control room. Making graphics, running the camera column switcher, and reading emails are what happens in the back, and more. She describes managing the control room as like “being in control of the show, but not actually being on the screen.”

A lot of training goes into running FX, specifically the control room. But what happens when the responsibility of creating graphics is given to someone who does not have a clue what their doing?

A lot of training goes into running FX, specifically the control room. But what happens when the responsibility of creating graphics is given to someone who does not have a clue what they’re doing? 

“I was trying to do graphics,” Paris said, “and I didn’t know what I was doing with it. I was trying to hurry it up. It was not done before the show started. So [Manders] started screaming, it was so bad.”

Even through times of struggle, Paris still feels like she can rely on her teammates to get things done and ready for production. It takes tremendous amounts of creativity and teamwork to create each episode, and that’s what some members seek in taking the class. 

Senior Allison Kelly views FX as a creative outlet for her. It separates normal classes—such as math and English—from being able to create videos and have fun with friends. 

“I do really love the live TV aspect,” Allison said. “It’s really fun. This doesn’t really reflect well on the class, [but] when someone messes up on air, it’s really funny. Everyone in the studio starts laughing, and it’s overall a really fun class.”

With the number of leadership students apart of FX, the show is almost entirely student ran. This leaves a lot of opportunities for students to have almost complete control of what is being produced. They have lots of freedom within the class, and Allison really enjoys that. 

“We are in teams of three or four people,” Allison said, “and we get to pick our own story topic every two weeks. And obviously, Manders has to approve it, but usually, it’s not that hard to get approved. And we can just kind of do whatever we want.”

There’s obviously a line that you can’t cross; there are things that you can’t say, things that are just common sense not to say. Things that would get emails from outside teachers, Senior Savannah Blue says. 

“With a normal day-to-day banter,” Savannah said, “we don’t really tell him what we’re going to say. We just say whatever we want, except some things have not been allowed to be said. He’ll get emails from teachers, but I would say we have a good amount of creative liberty.”

Many stories require lots of out-of-school efforts, such as filming sporting events. Students have to film two events each quarter for the first semester. Then in the second semester, FX students have the Film Fest, where students will create mini-movies, which requires a ton of outside work. 

Savannah isn’t one to be particularly fond of the process of making these movies, mainly because of her experience last year. 

“Last year there was a lot of drama in my group,” Savannah said, “so I didn’t enjoy it. Also, I was the main [character]. I don’t like acting. I’m not good at it.”

Kids who do continue on to study film in college seem to benefit from FX greatly, with some students even coming back and saying that the first two or three courses cover things that they have already learned by taking FX, Media Comm, or Film Projects. 

Manders believes that taking FX really prepares students for a successful, media-filled future—if they choose to do so. 

“It’s not a real TV studio,” Manders said, “but it definitely gives them that experience right off the bat. And to do a live production with 20-some kids all working together and communicating together within five minutes, we cram a lot in five minutes. It moves really fast. Every day in the class, [students are] planning interviews. If it’s something they’re interested in, they do a  film project at the end of the year. If kids are more interested in going into film and creative storytelling, entertainment type storytelling, they get some experience with that.”