West grad to be among those featured in ‘The College Tour’ episode about UNI
By Andy Milone, The Courier I February 3, 2023
CEDAR FALLS — A 2020 Waterloo West High School graduate is making the most of his time at the University of Northern Iowa.
Ethan Ahrens, a junior studying digital media production, applied to be a part of the “The College Tour” series episode about UNI and was selected to share more with audiences about the hands-on experience he’s received while studying at the state school.
The university is hosting a special launch party for the premiere of UNI’s episode at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, 8201 Dakota St.
In mid-October, 10 students were filmed for the 30-minute episode focused on campus life and experience. UNI joins a group of about 80 higher education institutions that have their own videos as part of the Amazon Prime series created and hosted by Alex Boylan, a well-known reality show contestant, television show host, film producer and traveler.
“I wrote up my own script, and thought they would edit it heavily but they maybe changed two sentences,” Ahrens, 20, explained.
The small film crew then shot segments of him working and reading his script at Lang Hall while inside a campus television news studio, audio recording studio, editing lab, productions class, and the hallways of the building, but he’s not yet sure what made the final cut.
“It wasn’t long, maybe an hour and a half tops that I was working with them,” Ahrens said. “I was surprised at how calm the director was … You hear horror stories of people being on movie sets for three days, and I haven’t heard anybody say that film or TV production is an easy thing to be a part of.”
During the filming, Ahrens also got the chance to see some of the high-level cameras being used as well as learn about the various challenges and triumphs that happen on set.
“I’ve been interested in video production ever since I took an introduction class as a sophomore in high school, and I would make videos for fun of anything that came to mind,” said Ahrens.
His proud personal experiences range from documenting UNI students and faculty at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota as part of a research trip to making a short video his freshman year that revolved around a Haiku poem.
He hopes his path leads him to creating fun content on the side or as his primary occupation. One of his early ideas is creating videos that involves fun facts about crazy things to have happened in history. But he admits that he has to find a way to make them different from what else is already out there in the crowded market.
“I can tell you that I don’t want to be a vlogger or someone who’s reacting to various things,” he said.
Ahrens hopes to attend the free 6:30 p.m. pre-premiere party Wednesday in the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center lobby. The viewing follows at 7:30 p.m. in the center’s Davis Hall. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet him and other cast members and enjoy special treats.
Following the premiere, look for the 10 individual segments to be released gradually on official UNI web and social media platforms.
While Ahrens has seen an episode teaser with him shown for a second, he hasn’t seen any part of the full show yet. He’s excited to see the final product and what others have shared about their college experience.
“This will be something I can look back on when I’m 60 and will help me remember what I was like in college,” Ahrens said.