By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
What began as a class project became a dream come true for two Pittsburg State University students.
When they graduate in May, Blake Broaddus and Devin Greenwood — both commercial graphics majors who graduated from Diamond (Mo.) High School — will have a resume that includes field production work for an outdoors television show.
But they may not need it. They’ll have their own show.
The two couldn’t have asked for something more suited to them. Each man said he grew up with a deer rifle in one hand and a camera in the other.
“I hunted with my dad as a kid,” said Greenwood, 23. “I harvested my first wild turkey at age 9 or 10, and then my first deer not long after, on our 80 acres.”
Broaddus, 25, was introduced to hunting by his best friend in middle school, and he harvested his first deer his freshman year in college.
“Meat in the freezer is a great thing when you’re a college student,” he said.
Watching television hunting shows such as “Heartland Bowhunter,” “Back Country Quest” and “Hallowed Ground Outdoors,” Broaddus and Greenwood began analyzing what they liked and what they didn’t.
What they saw inspired them.
“It struck me that’s what I wanted to do,” Broaddus said.
Their first project in a commercial graphics course opened the door. Each was to create a two-minute video, but they wound up with productions more than four times that long — Greenwood’s about hunting with his father, and Broaddus’ on managing hunting land for predators.
When “The Quest” crew member Dusty Altman saw the videos on a video-sharing website called Vimeo, he thought the two might be a perfect fit as executive field producers for the company’s outdoors shows. Produced out of Neosho, Mo., with a staff of Southwest Missouri outdoorsmen, “The Quest” will begin airing this summer in the Midwest and nationally in Canada. Fifteen episodes will highlight the life of an outdoorsman, including preparing for and going on deer, turkey and duck hunts, and spoonbill fishing.
“It’s about hunting, but it’s about more than hunting,” Broaddus said. “It’s going to show how outfits run. It’ll highlight how hunts are scheduled, what guides do on those hunts and pretty much everything that goes into a hunting expedition.”
Altman said he liked the quality of production the two achieved in their videos, but they also offered something else: “When looking for field producers for a hunting TV show, you have to find individuals who possess not only quality camera and production work but who possess quality woodsmanship skills as well.
“We do not always get the luxury of filming in a controlled environment in high-dollar production and audio studios. We can be filming from environments as frigid as minus 10 or 95 degrees, or pouring down rain or sleet and snow, all while being suspended from a tree stand that can be 25 feet high.
“It’s definitely a skill that doesn't happen overnight. Luckily for us, these two guys have spent countless hours not only behind a camera but also have years of experience in the outdoors.”
But there was a moment when the two thought that dream was lost, and Greenwood’s life was on the line.
On May 5, 2012, a week before finals at PSU, Greenwood accidentally pulled his Chevrolet pickup into the path of a northbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe train at a railroad crossing near Asbury, Mo. He was ejected from the vehicle, and suffered a broken pelvis and ribs, broken bones in his face, a punctured lung and lacerations. He spent 10 days in the hospital and the entire summer learning to walk again.
“When I came back to school in August, I had 18 hours of incomplete and 18 hours of actual classes,” Greenwood said.
He also worried that he would never be able to get up in a deer stand again. But by Sept. 15, he, Broaddus and a friend not only made it into the stand, they were able to film the hunt for another video.
And their dream resumed.
“I couldn’t believe that we were going to get to do something we loved and get paid for it,” Broaddus said. “It’s not a job. I could never qualify it as a job.”
Christel Benson, an assistant professor in commercial graphics who considers the two “excellent role models for their peers,” said their success was earned.
“It’s not every day you find students who get to combine their personal passion and career paths simultaneously,” Benson said. “They work very hard in and out of the classroom and have aggressively pursued projects that put them in the path of opportunity.”
That includes creating their own business, Antler Shed Media, which will provide photography, videography and design services for a variety of occasions.
“I toyed with Double B Media, and he toyed with Greenwood Photography,” Broaddus said of their initial thought to each start his own business.
“We thought about it for maybe two seconds, then decided it would be smart to team up,” Broaddus said.
After graduating in May, they plan to be fully operational within a year.
“The scary thing is not walking out of here under someone’s supervision; we’re walking out under our own,” Broaddus said. “It’s exciting, though, to know you’re going to leave school and be able to start your own deal hunting and fishing.”
And filming, Greenwood added.
“We’ll be doing two of the things we love,” he said.
Want to watch?
“The Quest" is expected to air on KSN in June, as well as in 13 million homes across Canada on the Wild TV network.