Meet the stars
Eric Belanger, THIRD-year pharmacy major from Livonia, Mich.
Eric Belanger appeared in the commercial wielding a microphone during a segment featuring his band, the Dimers. The six-member band has played at campus events for the past few years, and its reputation garnered so much attention that the ONU Office of Communications and Marketing reached out to them to be a part of the video. He and the other band members were thrilled.
Belanger’s favorite part of the experience was working with the film crew. He described how filming the concert scene in the Bear Cave was challenging.
“I had to figure out a way to charge up with power and then grab the microphone stand but not move it at all because it’s so zoomed in,” he says. “It was an adventure.”
Belanger loves the small size of Ada and Ohio Northern University, but just because it’s small doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do – a concept he thinks the video definitely captures.
“Even though it’s in a town in the middle of 20 miles of cornfields, you still never get bored,” he says. “I was afraid coming here that I would have to travel to find things to do, but I rarely even leave campus or hit Main Street without finding something to do.”
He likes the energy the video exerts, and he believes people’s reaction to the video will reflect that energy.
“I don’t see how someone won’t like it, because it’s just a video of a bunch of people having fun,” he says. “That’s what ONU is.”
Mackenzie Zembower, senior communication studies major from Kenton, Ohio
All the shots in the commercial required several takes to get right, and Mackenzie Zembower’s scene of her running up the stairs in the atrium of James F. Dicke Hall was no exception. She found herself running up and down the stairs a number of times during filming, making for quite the workout.
“It was definitely a lot of work,” she says. “I sweated a lot running up and down the stairs, but it was really cool to see my angle versus what was actually shot. When they showed me the final shot, it was completely different from what I had pictured in my mind.”
Zembower was previously featured on billboards and other Ohio Northern University publications but has never appeared in a commercial before. There was an element of pride in participating, as she was proud to represent her school and her home.
“It is an absolute honor,” Zembower says. “ONU has been my home for many years, even before I was a Polar Bear. I love that I am able to represent ONU and, in a tiny way, help with the recruitment of new Polar Bears.”
Zembower thinks launching the hype video was a smart decision and will expose more people to the University.
“I’m really proud that the University went in this direction with their marketing,” she says. “As someone who has seen the University grow for the past 14 years, I am excited for the direction that this will take us and to reach out to students that may have never heard of ONU.”
Zembower also believes the video accurately represents student life at ONU because, just as shown in the video, there is never a shortage of things to do. From Baja racing to sports to metalworking, there is something for everyone.
As excited as she was to view the video for the first time herself, she is just as excited for others to see it and learn more about ONU.
“I think everyone is going to love it,” she says. “I can’t wait. I wish I could be in their shoes when they see the video. It’s just going to be a whole new perspective for a student pursuing ONU.”
Leah Casey, senior studio arts major from Seville, Ohio
For Leah Casey, one word sums up her experience participating in the commercial: awkward. Casey was featured creating artwork on a pottery wheel in the video, and, even though the filming didn’t exactly feel natural to her, her scene in the finished product shows not a hint of awkwardness and fits well into the video’s theme.
“The production was nothing like I expected,” she says. “I thought the crew would just set up and record us naturally working. Instead, they re-arranged parts of the studio and directed most of our movements, which felt really awkward.”
Casey initially became involved with the production when the art department asked some students to come in for filming, but she had no idea what she was in for. She had never participated in anything like this before, and she didn’t know the video would be aired as a commercial when her scene was shot.
“Had I known what an involved production it would be, I probably wouldn’t have agreed to participate, just out of nervousness,” she says. “But I’m glad that I did, and it was a fun experience.”
One of Casey’s favorite aspects of the video is the high energy and excitement it exerts and how the scenes are fast-paced, something she thinks is a true representation of campus life.
“I like how it kind of jumps from one thing to another,” she says. “The high energy of the video is really cool because you’re always rushing from one thing to another.”
Casey also appreciated how the video represented a wide range of groups from campus and had “a little taste of everything.”
Hercilia Carrion, third-year law student from Miami, Fla.
Hercilia Carrion's experience exactly embodies the very essence of the video – the unexpected – because her participation was totally coincidental. In the video, she appears enthusiastically pointing at a book during a group-study session.
When she was studying in the library the day of the filming, hitting the books was primarily what was on Carrion’s mind – not being in a commercial. The crew initially asked her to move so they could shoot the scene but then decided to ask her to participate.
Carrion was actually familiar with the production process and had done filming for commercials before, so, ironically, this part of the experience was exactly what she expected. Thus, the spontaneity of the situation was the most memorable part of the experience for her.
“I was studying at the moment, and I was not expecting it at all, so it was a nice little surprise. It was fun, definitely,” she says.
Carrion feels it was comical that the scene required her to “pretend that I was talking about the law,” since she was actually doing just that when the filmmakers asked her to be a part of the shoot.
Carrion thinks the video brings a lot to the table for viewers and depicts the vast land of opportunity that is Ohio Northern University.
“I think viewers are going to learn that there are so many things to do at the University, so many things to get involved in and so many majors that they can pursue,” she says. “I think they’re going to feel like it would be a nice, exciting place to come to.”
DeMaje Jones, sophomore music education major from Sandusky, Ohio
Many scenes in ONU’s broadcast television commercial, “The Unexpected,” took take after take to get right. DeMaje Jones’ surprise party scene only took one.
Jones happened to be in the right place at the right time when he was pulled into filming, but he had no idea what was about to happen. He had been welcoming new members with his music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, when he noticed some commotion going on across the hall. The film crew later approached his group and asked for a volunteer, to which Jones enthusiastically agreed.
“The crew said, ‘We’re not going to tell you what for, but we just need you to walk through that door in 30 seconds,’” Jones says.
So in a leap of faith, he waited his 30 seconds and then walked through the door to a surprise birthday party set. As his reaction in the video clearly shows, he was indeed genuinely surprised. Everyone began to sing “Happy Birthday” and had agreed to insert the fake name Alex – a coincidental irony, since Jones’ fraternity used to call him Alex as part of a running joke.
Jones says the presence of the surprise party scene within the video holds a deeper meaning that speaks to the very title of the video, “The Unexpected.”
“There’s always something spontaneous that can happen,” Jones says. “I feel like my scene, in a way, is a metaphor of how surprising your time could be at ONU.”
Jones, who is from Sandusky, feels that the video will help attract students like himself from new areas of the state. When asked how he feels about appearing in the video, Jones playfully says, “I’m personally going to feel like I’m a super star.”
Patrick Jeffries, a Master of Science in Accounting candidate from Cleveland, Ohio
What began as a spur-of-the-moment decision for Patrick Jeffries resulted in him appearing in two of the video’s business-themed scenes, both shot in James F. Dicke Hall.
Jeffries first appears in the scene featuring Mackenzie Zembower hurtling up the staircase in the atrium of Dicke Hall. When she reaches the landing at the top of the stairs and peers over the railing, Jeffries is seen enthusiastically throwing his hands up in the air. His second appearance is in the classroom scene, where he is seen speaking before a large group of students.
Jeffries’ participation in the video was spontaneous, as he happened to be nearby right before the crew was about to start shooting. The classroom scene called for a full classroom; however, there were only a few students present. What could have been a conundrum turned into a great example of quick thinking on one’s feet, when the crew and those assisting rounded up a couple dozen students, including Jefferies, within a span of about 30 minutes.
“The crew needed extra people, and I was recruited,” he says. “I mostly joined on a whim.”
Appearing in the video makes Jeffries beam with pride, as he is so delighted to have represented his school in a positive light.
“I have so much pride in being a Polar Bear, and it is a pleasure to be a ‘face of the University,’” he says. “I honestly smile every time I think about it.”