The man behind the camera

ALLEGRA THATCHER
CRITIC’S CORNER COLUMNIST

Many of us around campus have seen him. He appears beside you, in front of you, with his camera and captures priceless moments of your college experience.

You don’t see him again until a few weeks later, when he turns up at another event. We’ve all been wondering: Who is the man with the camera?

His name is John Novotny, and he hails from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. His official title is the Creative Director of Video Production, and, not surprisingly, he works for the Marketing Communications Department.

Like many others, Novotny was led to the university through Dr. Scott Hahn. Since he joined the university family about 10 months ago, he has the unique opportunity to work closely with Hahn through “Franciscan University Presents.”

Before coming to Franciscan, “I was a Facebook follower of Scott Hahn,” said Novotny.

Apparently, the professor posted that he was looking for someone to take a job. Novotny took the chance and submitted a resume.

Now the overseer of “Presents,” Novotny said that “it’s been exciting thing to be part of something that has so much impact on people’s lives.”

Hahn had a large impact on Novotny as well, who listened to nearly all of Hahn’s cassette tapes just after graduating college.

“I remember purchasing a bunch of his tapes and playing  them over and over again until I had them all memorized, pretty much,” said Novotny.

Novotny’s background in freelance work for the Park service, which he described as an  “incredible job,” but had to leave due to financial pressure and the economy, led him to start  looking all over North America for work.

Novotny said, “(Franciscan) is very similar in odd ways just because of the sheer amount of variety on campus … (though) it’s a much smaller space.”

He has brought the landscape and documentary skills he learned while working for the Park service, and he employs them to oversee video production from a marketing perspective for the  marketing department.

Novotny said that the spirit of the community on campus is something that has encouraged him, despite many changes.

“It’s a new environment for me,” said Novotny.“I threw myself into it with a lot of passion and a lot of work last fall. That’s why you’d see me out at all hours shooting events.”

Regarding the subject matter of his photo shoots around campus, Novotny said that while what  he photographs is very project driven, he looks for “general campus life … everything from sports to academics to spiritual life of the students.”

Novotny said one day he particularly enjoyed was one spent photographing and filming with Father Gregory Plow, T.O.R. and the Priestly  Discernment Program.

“It’s (surprising) how much variety there is on campus as far as what’s going on,” said Novotny. “There’s always  something interesting going on.”

Novotny has enjoyed working with students as much as photographing them for his various projects.

“I learn from the students,” said Novotny. “They bring fresh ideas.”

The man with the camera also gets to see a side of the campus beyond the outside appearance.

“I was able to see things that I think a lot of staff weren’t able to,” said Novotny. “It was a huge blessing.”

Novotny said his favorite project thus far was the very first one, making an admissions video for the school.

“It was challenging and I was new to the university but I was able to immerse myself in the culture,” said Novotny.

Novotny said to complete the project, he drew on archival material as well, shot in the 1970s during which Father Michael Scanlan, T.O.R., was president. The results of Novotny’s projects, such as promotional videos which have recently been shared by countless students on social media, are evidence that his hard work has been a success.

“My overall experience at the university has been very rewarding,” Novotny said.

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