LAKEWOOD RANCH — With its own television studio, a channel on Bright House Networks and active YouTube and Facebook accounts, Lakewood Ranch Communities has embraced video as a promotional and informational tool.
The community presents everything from celebrity interviews and real estate tours to concert footage and event coverage, giving residents and curious visitors an intimate view into what it means to live on the Ranch.
But, unlike other broadcast organizations, which employ an entire crew of photographers, videographers, editors and hosts, Lakewood’s video production department operates on the hard work of Public Relations and Promotions Manager Candice McElyea and her sidekick, Cameron Helwege, Lakewood Ranch High School’s resident video whiz-kid.
As station manager, Helwege, 18, has his hand in just about every facet of video production. He began working with Lakewood Ranch last June and has since become the go-to man behind all the cameras and editing equipment at the community’s TV studio.
After getting the job, Helwege immersed himself in the studio, learning the idiosyncrasies of the unfamiliar equipment and teaching himself the new editing software.
“It took about a week,” he said with a shrug.
Now, the station is Helwege’s second home.
“He’s the guy who knows everything about everything,” McElyea said. “He basically runs the whole TV station by himself.”
Helwege produced his first work as a journalist in elementary school when he participated in Braden River Elementary’s after-school newspaper club and its News Crew announcements. He received his first camera at age 14, and after starting classes at Lakewood Ranch High, Helwege took advantage of the school’s celebrated TV production and musical theater opportunities.
“I’ve always been interested in film — starting with the BRE News Crew, and everything pretty much built from there,” Helwege said.
At school, Helwege satisfies his love for production working in stage management, lightning and rigging for the drama department and also as a producer for the school’s live television program.
“I really enjoy running the equipment,” Helwege said.
After school, Helwege spends nearly every afternoon inside the community’s station or on location with McElyea shooting footage at a variety of events. Recently, Helwege produced a feature on an upswing in Lakewood’s real estate market and a tour of The Out-of-Door Academy’s new black box theatre.
Following graduation, Helwege said he plans to keep working in television production and hopes to land a position in news for a larger network. He particularly loves the floor manager position, which involves working with on-air talent, directing cameras and making sure the show flows smoothly.
Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].
SEE CAMERON’S WORK
Cameron’s work can be seen online at YouTube.com/user/TheLakewoodRanch or on television on Bright House Networks channel 95.