A professor speaks to a group of students sitting in the film viewing room with black and white film on the screen over his shoulder.

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York College duo’s shared passion for video helps local food bank

Eleni Mitchell and Lexi Biscotto head and shoulders

It was fate and videography that brought together Eleni Mitchell ’19 and Lexi Biscotto ’20 in the spring of 2019. Although the two didn’t know each other, they had intersecting paths at York College of Pennsylvania. Both were Mass Communication majors, had the same internships at the College, and volunteered at the York County Food Bank filming videos.

Lexi and Eleni didn’t meet until WHTM-TV, the ABC affiliate in the Harrisburg-York-Lancaster market, announced a Give Local York “PSA showcase.” The competition invited local nonprofits to submit a 30-second public service announcement (PSA) for greater exposure. The York County Food Bank reached out to Lexi and Eleni for help creating a video.

“We hadn’t really spoken before,” Lexi, from Scranton, Pennsylvania, remembers. “But we both knew that each other worked for the College and the Food Bank. It blossomed into a friendship for both of us.”

Drawing on classroom experience

Both Eleni and Lexi, then a senior and a junior, respectively, didn’t have much experience outside of the classroom. They drew on knowledge from their video classes, including editing, camera operation, lighting, and special effects. “They really drove it home with all of the classes, and each year, things got a little bit tougher and a little more involved,” Eleni says about her video classes.

Lexi and Eleni also worked together on an impactful idea. At first, they considered re-purposing old content with new voiceovers. But a light bulb went off for Lexi during one of their brainstorming sessions as she thought about what would move people: filling up a fridge.

The duo started their video with the shot of an empty fridge and statistics about how many people in the community go hungry. Then, they sped it up to show Lexi filling the fridge full of food, symbolizing what the Food Bank does for community members. “It was a very powerful simple message about what exactly they do in the community and why we need them,” Lexi says.

Surprise awards

Both Lexi and Eleni received credit for their work through an independent study, and they ended up winning WHTM’s competition. However, the videos went much further after their advisor, Professor Jeffrey Schiffman, saw the potential in their finished project.

He entered the PSA for two awards: Best PSA with College Broadcasters Inc. and Outstanding Television Public Service Announcement/Campaign with the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters. Lexi and Eleni’s project won both.

Lexi describes feeling shocked when she found out they won the College Broadcasters Inc. Award. “I actually was walking through Target with my boyfriend, and I saw that WVYC had retweeted College Broadcasting Inc.’s tweet about us,” she says. “So, they were tweeting off all of the winners, then they did first place, and Professor Schiffman retweeted it and sent it over email to us.”

Both, though, took away something greater than the wins. Eleni says the process helped her gain experience while supporting the Food Bank. “I think we both just worked really well together on that video,” she says. “It turned out great, and I’m so happy that it’s getting awards and getting people talking about it. I hope that it can bring more awareness to the Food Bank.”

Lexi says she took away how important it is to give your all when you’re working on something for another person—even when it’s just a volunteer opportunity. She also recommends waiting for the perfect idea, such as their fridge full of food. She says, “It’s so much more powerful and important to sit on your ideas for a while and then make them come to life.”