Last fall, in his first year in the marketing management program at U of G, Bruce Sargent petitioned to take a third-year web development class. He’d made some forays into website development as a high school student and knew he wanted to learn more. The professor said yes, and Sargent says: “It was my best course of the year.”
That course also gave him the skills he needed to start a successful summer business that included being hired to shoot video of actress Amber Marshall of the CBC television series Heartland.
Sargent applied in the spring to the Summer Company program run by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade for start-up funds to create his Farm Boy Productions business. Successful applicants are given $1,500 to get their companies started; Sargent put the money towards the purchase of the camera he needed to make high-quality videos and still pictures.
Because he grew up on a dairy farm near Enniskillen, Ont., Sargent decided to specialize in agricultural clients. He feels that decision made his business stand out when a directory of Summer Company businesses was put together by the program organizers; he was soon getting calls from agricultural clients.
“I was really excited, though, to get an email from the Wilson H2 Ranch and the chance to make a video with Amber Marshall,” he says. Wilson H2 Ranch boards horses and offers trail rides but also runs a riding camp for kids each summer to raise funds for their Horse Wish charity. Horse Wish was set up to make horses available to people who might otherwise not be able to afford the riding experience. Sargent describes one example of a person assisted by the charity: a member of the military who suffered from post-traumatic stress and found that riding and working with horses helped him recover.
Amber Marshall, who shows off her riding ability in Heartland, is the official spokesperson for the charity, and the children’s camps bear her name. After a test shooting that went well, Sargent was hired to film her and some of the campers to make a promotional video. The young campers also received a DVD preserving their horseback accomplishments.
“I bought a ‘green screen’ and took it to the farm,” says Sargent. “Then we had three days of shooting ─ the first two with the campers, and the third day with Amber Marshall.” The green screen, he explains, allows him to edit the film so that it looks as though the campers are talking with Marshall. The final version will soon be on YouTube and local television stations.
Now that he’s successfully completed a summer of work, including regular meetings with the mentors assigned to him, Sargent has to complete a final report in order to receive a second $1,500 cheque from the Summer Company program. “I plan to invest that back into the business,” he says. “I want to keep the business going and keep building on it. I’ve already been approached by a cattle show to do some live streaming to the Internet.”
His Horse Wish assignment, though, was definitely the highlight of last summer. “This is what I want to do ─ videos and web design for agricultural organizations and businesses,” Sargent says. “To have the chance to also work with a national television star made it all very exciting. I see this helping me in my studies at the University, too, because it’s real-life learning.”