Made in Medford fosters community connection
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 08:10
For Tufts students, the community of Medford may be easily overlooked in comparison to Somerville’s highly accessible Davis Square. Recently, Made in Medford, a website intended to promote community events, has reached out to Tufts students to fill the void.
Junior Laura Lasko acknowledged that a disconnect exists between Tufts and the communities by which it’s surrounded.
“When you walk off campus, it becomes very clear you’re either in Medford or Somerville,” she said. “There’s not a whole lot of integration with the community. Tufts is very much its own part.”
In an effort to change that, junior Amir Mosallaie has been hired to explore the Medford community for the Made in Medford site through a web series specific to Tufts.
Made in Medford is a component of Project Open Voice, a much larger initiative that consists of a set of websites hosted by Comcast that are dedicated to hosting videos featuring six different trial communities, including Medford.
Comprised of strictly video content, Project Open Voice is a relatively new and ambitious concept that works to strengthen the reach of public, educational and governmental programming and to celebrate the spirit of local communities.
The Made in Medford site includes videos profiling the Medford High School Marching Band, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Malden River Festival. The site also publishes a listing of local activities, and the simplicity of its video streaming makes the site extremely user−friendly.
Additionally, Made in Medford only hosts locally produced content in the hope that it will create more meaningful ties with the viewer. The site makes a special effort to connect with local producers, like Mosallaie, within the Tufts and Medford communities.
Mosallaie has been hired to produce two videos a week for the site and has been encouraged to film a variety of subjects within Tufts and Medford. This encompasses the Tufts Community page, a recent feature on Made in Medford.
“They gave me a lot of freedom about what I can do,” he said. “I film a lot of stuff on campus, and I go and shoot stuff in Medford.”
Mosallaie has so far documented Tufts Community Day, several a cappella groups and many other events on campus, and he hopes to get involved with other Tufts organizations. He also plans to shoot more events in Medford, such as the Medford Arts Festival and the Fall Festival.
“There’s a lot that can happen on campus,” he said. “It’s just about who’s willing to be in front of the camera.”
The site has allowed Mosallaie to expand beyond topics related to Tufts and Medford by giving him the option to create his own web series, “Social Butterflies,” which he produces with Lasko.
According to Mosallaie, they hope to create eight episodes for the web series, with one produced every two weeks. They write together and cast their friends as actors in the series.
“We’re inspired by ourselves,” Mosallaie said. “We’re inspired by each other’s quirks and awkwardness, and that’s what leads to interesting interactions.”
The first two episodes focus on Mosallaie and Lasko as two awkward freshmen encountering the opposite sex. It’s filled with uncomfortable moments and eccentric comments.
“Essentially we’re playing exaggerated versions of ourselves,” Mosallaie said.
Despite focusing efforts on writing and directing, both act in the show in order to facilitate production. The second episode was written, shot and edited within 24 hours, Mosallaie said.
Mosallaie admits that writing and producing his own web series is new to him, as is the idea of seeing his face on the front page of the site.
“Our videos, the ‘Social Butterflies’ videos, have gotten the most traffic of any video on the site,” Mosallaie said. “When you go on Made in Medford, it’s our faces, which is insane because we have no idea what we’re doing.”
Lasko hopes that their success matches that of TUTV’s original series, “In Motion,” a show with a large following that featured many students in the production process.
“I hope that the website can pick up some kind of following here,” she said. “We’re trying to get the following that ‘In Motion’ sort of had.”
Mosallaie and Lasko also hope the series can further connections among the small Tufts film community.
“We just want people to know that we’re making ... and we’re writing stuff and ... acting,” Mosallaie says, “[I] hope that motivates people to do the same and reach out to us.”
The local aspect of Project Open Voice ensures that each producer must use the resources available in their community, however limited they may be, according to Mosallaie. Yet this local focus is an important aspect of the project, and for Tufts, building strong connections can help to foster a link between college students and their surrounding communities.
“We’re between two worlds,” Mosallaie said. “Go on the site [and you’ll] see Medford in big letters. There’s a Tufts Community channel on the site. We’re definitely trying to include the Tufts community.”