“North Carolina State Parks: Environmental Jewels,” will air on UNC-TV at 10 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6.
“We want to bring to the public’s attention the value, the natural resource and cultural value, of our state park system,” Linden said.
Jonathan Howes, the former secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, co-taught Media Journalism 562: “Science Documentary Television” with Linden. Howes passed away in 2015, and the documentary is dedicated to him.
“He was the inspiration for the course, and he was the perfect guy and accompanied most of our shoots,” Linden said.
The documentary was created by teams of students consisting of a producer, assistant producers and script writers, with Linden serving as the executive producer. Each team would go on a scouting trip to a state park and conduct interviews.
Nine of the pieces researched in class are featured in the documentary.
“I’m really proud of the students,” Linden said. “There were 20 student producers and nine script writers.”
Shooting was done by UNC students as well as UNC-TV videographers. Most of the documentary was made during the class.
“The shoot schedule was very, very tight,” Linden said. “(The students) pretty much set up the shoot schedule as if it were a military operation.”
The documentary was completed in summer 2016. Brooke Benson, assistant field producer, and Alasdair Wilkins, a graduate of the Science and Medical Journalism Master’s Program, accompanied Linden on two scouting trips.
“My favorite part was seeing it all come together in the larger piece and getting to firsthand help with all those transitions that became an integral part of showcasing our state parks,” Benson said.
The four-year project allowed students to explore other fields beyond science. Besides research, students learned about the filmmaking process and communication skills through interviews.
“It was like trying to put together a puzzle and simultaneously making the pieces at the same time,” Wilkins said.
Linden and his students hope to educate people about what North Carolina has to offer and show the vulnerability of the environment through the documentary.
“(The documentary) was a nice, sort of, epilogue to my time in N.C. Generally, it was a nice epilogue to working with Tom,” Wilkins said. “I have enormous respect for him and everything he does.”