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November 22, 2016

By Drew Kartos

I think it’s fair to say the Vail Valley is no longer the hidden gem it used to be, that is, when peering in from the outside. However, as a local, I’ve learned that there is still much to be discovered about its mixed bag of interesting people. That’s why I turned to digital storytelling, and with the help of High Five Access Media (HFAM), I’ve been able to share my own powerful stories.

Like the Vail Valley, High Five Access Media is also no longer a hidden gem; nevertheless, not enough people take advantage of their services and expertise. As a new marketing coordinator for a local nonprofit, I was looking for ways to engage the community, and, like all nonprofits, I had a budget the size of my son’s piggy bank. My organization already had a membership to High Five Access Media, so I took advantage of their community producer training program and learned the ropes. Of course, my young-at-heart behavior and their sense of humor led to the production of a video tutorial with who else for a host... a skeleton called “Bones.”

The “Bones” video rightfully went viral among the crew and I was subsequently asked to run the camera for their live show, The Community Project, which tells the real stories of the valley and provides exposure for local musicians and organizations. Not only was I stoked to continue developing my camera skills, but I felt empowered and honored to be a part of the community’s voice. But, why would they take a chance on me? After all, I had just narrated the voice for a gangly skeleton. Needless to say, I was honored and proud to be a part of the HFAMily.

Looking back, two years of recording The Community Project has been one of my most purposeful endeavors and I’ve learned to be a better digital storyteller from J.K. and Holly, as their passion and expertise naturally rubbed off on me. I’ve even had the chance to produce my own content and air it on live TV and the internet.

High Five Access Media has allowed for the space and support to refine my digital storytelling skills and meaningfully create quality content. I can’t thank them enough for teaching me the art of digital storytelling and helping me bridge the gap between my stories and an audience. I continue to appreciate how HFAM breathes life into this valley by providing insight through the eyes of the locals. The value they bring to this valley is priceless in the sense that they are preserving our one-of-a-kind culture, even sharing it with outsiders – who still can’t figure out how to use our roundabouts.

Drew Kartos is a High Five Access Media community producer. If you’re interested in learning about video production, sign up for a High Five Access Media workshop. You can find out more at Media Education.