Augustana students test out their music video chops in new class | Music

For students at Augustana College, the week before final exams is often filled with cramming for tests and preparing for presentations.

But that’s not the case for one of Joe Flynn’s classes, Entertainment Media, this term.

Flynn’s grade in that course relies on how many people watch a music video he and his group filmed for Iowa City-based musician Brooks Strause.

The new class, unlike any of Flynn’s other courses, is part of Augustana’s entertainment and media industries, or ENTM, certificate program.

“We weren’t sitting in lectures taking notes,” Flynn said. “We treated it more like a job.”

The program, which offers a resume-building partnership with Fresh Films, a film studio on campus, is one reason Flynn, a Chicagoland-native who is studying marketing, was drawn to Augustana College. The class is taught by instructor Estlin Feigley, a 1993 Augustana College graduate who founded Fresh Films.

The students released their videos on YouTube earlier this week and have about 10 days to garner as many views, comments and shares as possible. You can find two of the videos attached to this story on

Each group was assigned a musician or band with relatively small social media followings — from 800 to 2,000 likes on Facebook — to serve as clients.

They got creative with their video ideas, enlisted current or former Augustana students as actors and filmed music videos at area sites, such as their college campus, Rozz-Tox, the Talbot Memorial Bridge (formerly the Centennial Bridge), Lincoln Park, Vander Veer Botanical Park and the Mississippi River bike trail.

Kaitlin O’Brien, a junior who is studying communications and theater arts, and her group created a music video for “Go,” a soon-to-be released song by Chicago-based band Razorhouse, fronted by Mark Panick.

From story mapping to editing in post-production, O’Brien said the class “opened my eyes to how much work goes into this process.”

“As challenging as it was, I think this will help my career and help me get a job later on,” she said. “It’s something I can put in my portfolio.”

O’Brien and her team brainstormed with Panick via Facetime calls and then invited him to the Quad-Cities for filming. Panick was happy the students “actually got” his music.

“I merely advised them to be brave and to make art they could live with,” Panick said in an email. “They used the song as a platform to express an opinion about love and I couldn’t be happier with that.”

Along with the “fun and games” part of creating the video, Panick said the group also got a taste of the business side “when they learned there is a whole process to releasing a video and getting maximum traction and views.”

That’s where the next piece of the project — the marketing — came in. In an effort to spread word about his group’s video, Flynn reached out to local media, including the Quad-City Times, earlier this month. He said getting the newspaper to share the video would, along with “forcing our friends to watch it,” help drive viewership. Their final grades will be based on more than viewership, but the group with the biggest online presence will get extra points, he said. 

“We wanted to contact everyone we knew in the community,” Flynn said. “I figured as many people as possible is best to get our artist’s name and our video out there.”

O’Brien and Rachel Frances, a student in another group, also sent emails to the Quad-City Times. Frances, a sophomore business marketing major, hopes to pursue a career as an agent or talent searcher. 

“I’m taking away a lot of real life experience from this,” she said. “As soon as I saw this was a class, I was hooked and wanted to be part of it. It’s related to what I want to do in real life.”



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