Becoming Buzzy: Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

issue 01 | spring 2015
Talk of the Walk - Spring 2015

It was one of those days when the weather couldn’t at all decide what to do—winter in the morning, sunshine by late afternoon, lots of wind in between. Members of the Denison communications staff met up on the cold side of the day, watching the sun rise over East Quad, working to set up a series of campus scenes on the path from Doane to Swasey Chapel for an admissions video aimed at prospective students.

The idea was to have Janyce Caraballo ’17, a theatre major, make her way through campus and talk to the viewer about student life, as videographer Patrick Smith walked backward, filming, and trying not to trip. Along the way she would encounter a host of props, delivered just after sunrise by the Physical Plant staff: a full dorm room set up on the path leading from Doane to Knapp, complete with two beds, two desks, and a few Denison pennants. She would find a couch and an old TV as she rounded the bend to Chapel Walk. She would find a chemistry lab and a classroom, complete with whiteboard, desks, students, and Associate Professor Nestor Matthews holding court. The hope was to show how intellectually challenging and fun campus life can be, and students are a big part of that. So along Caraballo’s walk, she would encounter students studying in that fake dorm room, and more playing video games with intensity on that couch. She would see hockey players playfully duking it out and members of Tehillah, one of Denison’s a cappella groups, singing. She would pass student musicians and dancers and Homesteaders (and, yes, one of their chickens)— even Buzzy, Denison’s unofficial mascot, makes a cameo by doing yoga in the grass outside Beth Eden. Though plenty of students had volunteered to be a part of the video shoot on a chilly Sunday morning, we still needed extras. The magazine’s associate editor, Rose Schrott ’14, grabbed a seat in the campus scene and even fooled a few of her fellow actors into believing she was a current student; Jack Hire ’74, director of communications, became a chef for a scene focused on campus food; and Jason Bowles, our web content specialist, became the farmer delivering fresh produce to campus.

As roles filled that morning, it became clear that we still needed someone to crawl inside the Buzzy costume, throw that giant head on, and assume Warrior pose. I’ll admit that I’m a tad claustrophobic, but I knew I would be much more believable as Buzzy than I would be as a 19-year-old learning psychology from Matthews. So I grabbed that big ol’ buzzard head and made my way to the yoga mats.

Throughout six takes, Janyce walked from Doane to Swasey, talking over the Hilltoppers, who playfully tried to interrupt her time and again, hoping she would give them the go-ahead to burst into song. I’ll admit I poked fun at my role. At one point I asked Associate Professor of English Diana Mafe not to tell her students this is what one does with an English degree, and I hollered to anyone who would listen, “I am a communications professional, you know,” as I adjusted the fuzzy feet that covered my sneakers. But the truth is, I really did have a good time.

In the end, the communications group headed to Broadway Pub to debrief. We laughed—a lot—sometimes with tears welling up in our eyes. I’m not one for team-building exercises. Standing on a ladder and hoping my co-workers catch me mid-fall is not on my to-do list. But this made us a tighter crew. So tight, in fact, that in his delirium from building sets through the nights prior to the shoot, Jason Bowles blurted out, “I love you guys. That’s where I am right now.” We all agreed that he needed sleep.

When we headed home that afternoon, sunburned and tired, I thought of a line from the video that comes just at the end as the Hilltoppers finally get their cue to sing. Though Janyce was referring to students when she says it, I think it applies to all Denisonians: “We’re all in. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Maureen Harmon, Editor

Published July 2015
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