Category Archives: College – Social

Post-Grad Life: The Road Trip

[This article is part of a series. Read the first two pieces on 15Four and Z*Con].

This past semester was the most stress I’ve ever faced in school. I can remember multiple times where it felt like I was drowning in the amount of work I had to do. Senior year is expected to be tough, but I was holding down two part time jobs, trying to freelance, finishing up a double major, and preparing myself for the post-graduate life.

I distinctly remember one night when my roommates were out of the apartment and I was all alone. I hadn’t been home in a number of weeks, I’d had a tough schedule, and I was in the middle of writing an article on deadline.

The thought occurred to me that Red Lobster is bull&*#!

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Post-Grad Life: Film and Free Work

[This article is part of a series. Read the first piece on 15Four and the follow-up piece on Maine].

Around the same time I picked up the internship at 15Four, I got a call from Justin Chiet, an old friend and colleague from school. Chiet had been working on the behind the scenes videography for a crowd funded zombie film called Z*Con for a number of months. The production, headed by local director Michael Dougherty, had pitched a proof of concept to online donors in the hopes of funding their feature. The film was funded with a successful Indiegogo campaign and Chiet was booked to serve as the film’s camera operator.

Having worked with Chiet’s production company in the past, he invited me to work as a Grip/Electric swing on the film. Although crew would be working for free, Dougherty’s production company, Big Damn Films, is a registered 501©3, where any proceeds from his films goes to fundraising and advocacy for charities related to the film. Proceeds from Z*Con were going to the American Red Cross, Kids Need to Read, a to-be-named national animal rescue and Big Damn Films. I could take comfort in the idea that despite working for free, I was working for a good cause!

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Post-Grad Life: A Summer Internship

[This article is part of a series. Read the follow-up pieces on Z*Con and Maine].

After 17 years of rigor and toil, I’d had enough of the education system. From behind the counter at my video rental job, I called Towson University’s graduation office to give them a piece of my mind:

“Alright buddy, listen up! I’m ditching this cow pen and there is nothing you can do about it!

“Sir, you have the required number of credits to graduate. I’ll file your paperwork now.”

“Yeah, well, you tell everyone down there that Mark Burchick is flying the coop! Towson won’t ever forget the name!”

“Can you please spell your last name to insure the documentation is correct?”

“Yeah, that’s B as in Yeaaaaah Boyyyy! U as in Uhhh-huuuuh!”

Needless to say, I had devolved into a mess of a human being after so many years of structured preparation for “the real world.”

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The Crossroads of Science, Art and Storytelling

So I came across this article in my Facebook Newsfeed and was intrigued by the headline. I wasn’t expecting much, but was quickly blown away.

It wasn’t till after reading it that I went back saw that it was written by Robert Krulwich, the gentleman who inspired me to practice journalism. There is a beautiful and engaging crossroads of art, science, storytelling and journalism that he taps into.

In my sophomore year, my Towson professor Dr. Peter Lev introduced my class to NPR’s Radiolab, which Krulwich co-hosts. The strength of his storytelling ability inspired an audio documentary project on Sleep Paralysis that I co-wrote with James Ficklin, seen below.

My hope is that come graduation, I’ll have some free time to continue merging my interests in the sciences and arts, whether that be in documentary, journalism, or otherwise. I’m forever indebted to Krulwich’s awesome examples and I hope that you find his writing as unique as I do!

A Brotherhood of Boards

(Featured image courtesy of Katie Simmons-Barth).

Where most people saw a paved road on a steep hill, Towson’s longboarding community saw an opportunity.

“3 am, when the sun goes down and there is no one on Cross Campus, we own that street,” said Kevin Abelmann, 20, a psychology major.

Abelmann brought a group of friends together one evening to longboard down Cross Campus Drive, and he invited spectators to watch and cheer them on. The response to their downhill venture was immediate.

“I mean the other day, my goodness. We had people texting us,” Abelmann said. He pointed at his enthusiastic grin and laughed.

“This was our reaction for like an hour long.”

Abelmann is the vice president of Towson University’s Glider Alliance, a group of students united in their love for longboards.

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Hosting a Film Series

[Originally posted on Sept. 18, 2013 at]

As the co-president of a coed media production fraternity, Lambda Kappa Tau, I find myself constantly planning social events in the back of my mind. As we head into our Fall rush period, I wanted to insure that my fraternity brothers and sisters would have a relaxing and fun opportunity to hang out together before having to meet dozens of new recruits. This thought occurred to me at our semester’s first meeting. In that moment, looking around the room at all of my friends and colleagues, I decided that I was going to host a Fall film series.

I’ve gradually come to decide that my screening series would be focused on movies that either are about making movies, or offer an opportunity to talk about the filmmaking process. For example, I intend to screen American Movie, a documentary about a Wisconsin-based filmmaker attempting to make an independent horror film with his family and friends, later in the semester. The film has so much rich content to talk about for an audience of media producers, including the passion with which Mark Borchardt, the filmmaker, approaches the project and how he gathers his resources. In addition, beyond the horror film that Borchardt intends to make, the documentary itself is an incredibly moving story told in a very objective way. Continue reading Hosting a Film Series

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe

The following is a speech I gave introducing the category of “Documentary” at LKT’s Halfway There Festival at Towson University:

In 1980, at the premiere of documentarian Errol Morris’s first film Gates of Heaven, director Werner Herzog boiled and ate his shoe in front of a live audience. What would prompt a man to eat his own shoe, you ask? Herzog himself explains the logic behind the decision, “It should be an encouragement to all of you who want to make films and are just too scared to start… and who haven’t got the guts.”

Allow me to take a step back and explain. Herzog had noticed Morris’s incredible ability to find story material and to interpret it. The man was a genius who had yet to realize his full potential. We’re talking about the guy who went on to make The Thin Blue Line and Fog of War. In order to encourage him to get ANY film made, Herzog offered to Morris that if he could ever complete a single film, he would eat his shoes.

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