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Teamwork Extraordinaires: The Kathie Green and Jill Clark Story

By: Cassandra Eiler

April 28 – Tuesday of the final week of the semester…the final week of actively working on the Indiana Crossrails project that has so wonderfully fulfilled my life for the past 4+ months. I’m reflecting on everything that has happened in that time period. A memory from this past weekend comes to mind:

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Naperville, IL – I’m driving the equipment van down a busy street in Naperville. Kathie sits in the passenger seat with the camera, and Jill acts as DJ with the throwback 90s music on her iPod from the seat behind me. Up ahead of us, lights start flashing and the railroad crossing gates lower as the sounds of a freight train fill the air. While most people may sigh impatiently in this situation, the three of us cheer enthusiastically.

“A TRAIN!!!”

Kathie rolls down the window and automatically starts filming. We’re advocating for passenger rail, but at this point, we pretty much love trains of all shapes, sizes, and types.

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I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about mass rail transit, trains, and documentary film this semester. I know the difference between light rail and commuter rail. I know how impactful these transit systems can be in a community. And I know that trusting the director of photography is essential, especially when she’s Kathie Green and knows what she’s doing.

That actually leads me to my main point: how much I’ve learned about people, mainly the aforementioned Kathie Green and Jill Clark – the infamous DP and AC team that has rocked this project. I’ve learned more from these two amazing women in the past couple of months than I could’ve imagined.

Kathie taught me the functions of a documentary production team, the roles of all the members, and the importance of not freaking out with nerves before conducting an interview. Through her example, I saw proper ways to demonstrate authority on set and lead an efficient production team. Considering I practically lived with Kathie and Jill on interview days and b-roll weeks, I picked up information about camera functions, lenses, filters, and lighting just from listening to Kathie teach Jill. Most importantly, I saw how to support and love my team members, how to constantly see the beauty and excitement in the little things – whether that’s coffee, a sign for a nature preserve, or flowing water (seriously, you should’ve seen Kathie at the Indiana Dunes), and how to sleep anywhere. That’s mainly referring to her habit of curling up like a koala bear in the passenger seat of vehicles while I drove at night and then always waking with a start to apologize for falling asleep; at a point, all I could do was laugh at her predictable and unnecessary apology – with as hard as she worked all day, she had to sleep sometime.

In similar fashion, Jill had her own wisdom to unknowingly share. Every single day, without fail, she demonstrated the most positive attitude imaginable. I can almost guarantee that most people have not seen someone as excited to build the camera rig, switch camera lenses, or pull focus as Jill Clark. She jumped – almost literally – at every opportunity to help someone out with any aspect of this project. She navigated and kept the crew alive and sane in Chicago, she had snacks at the ready for Kathie at all points in time, and she set new fashion examples on every set with her flannel shirts and bandanas. I learned an invaluable amount about staying enthusiastic and casually walking down sidewalks for b-roll shots from this irreplaceable team player.

In a few weeks, Kathie will be moving to Arizona to begin her amazing new job as a trail conservation worker, helping to preserve the trails in national and state parks out west. She’ll get to live her dream of being immersed in the outdoors while taking care of the landscape that she so passionately loves. Ball State, Indiana Crossrails, and especially this blog writer will be sad to see her go, but she has brought so much to the Muncie community that I can’t help but feel overjoyed as she begins the next step in her life.

Jill will continue at Ball State for another year, stepping into her own role as a director of photography for a number of projects. I have the very good fortune of getting to work with her in the fall semester, and I’m beyond excited to see how she carries her enthusiasm into this new role. I have no doubt that she will affect the lives of her own ACs in the same way that Kathie has affected ours.

I have already gushed enough about these two, and I could definitely brag about them more, but I’ll let their work on our documentary and commercials from this semester say the rest. I just know that my life – both personally and from a TCOM-related standpoint – has been significantly impacted by these wonderful women.