Alumnus garners double regional Emmy win

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BGSU alumnus Jordan Schmelzer ’09 has parlayed the skills he gained and the motivation he received as an undergraduate into growing achievements in his field. Schmelzer won regional Emmys for his work in the TV production of “We’re the Shazzbots!” which he calls a quirky program for kids and families. The program secured prizes in three categories.

“I was awarded Emmys for Best Overall Directing and Best Overall Editing for all non-live entertainment in the Ohio Valley region, which includes Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia,” said Schmelzer, who majored in visual communication technology (VCT) at BGSU. “I was awarded Emmys alongside my co-director and co-editor, Matt Hubbard, and our teammate Joel Jackson also took home an Emmy for Best Overall Set Design.”

The Shazzbots started as a local band in Columbus, Ohio, in 2008. In 2014, Schmelzer was introduced to Ian Hummel, the front man and creator of the Shazzbots universe. Hummel was looking to create a TV show. “Two years later, Ian and I, along with our small team of friends and our humble Kickstarter budget, were able to produce a 40-minute TV pilot,” Schmelzer said.

In addition to his work with the Shazzbots, Schmelzer is an in-house video editor for Express, a fashion retailer based in Columbus. He’s responsible for developing creative video advertisements with high profile talent such as Stephen Curry, Karlie Kloss and Emily Ratajkowski. His ads have been featured online, in broadcast television, Times Square and in hundreds of retail stores internationally.

As a VCT major, Schmelzer found that the coursework provided a comprehensive background in a variety of skills that are necessary to produce media. “Not only did I study video production, but also photography and graphic design. Both have played a huge part in my career,” he said. “In fact, I know now that learning graphic design principles is one of the best things a video editor can do. It might not immediately seem like editors are designers, but they are. I’m challenged with designing and laying out copy in nearly all of the videos I edit, and understanding design really helps step up my game compared to other editors.”

In addition to his coursework, Schmelzer found invaluable encouragement in his mentor, Dr. Gene Poor, Hamilton Endowed Professor of Entrepreneurship. “He taught with such exuberance and made the classes exciting. He didn’t believe in providing busy work and he made time after each class to talk with students who were just rushing to talk to him, like myself.”

In 1973, Poor started the VCT program in the College of Technology while serving both as a college professor and business entrepreneur. His encouragement led Schmelzer to trust his own skills and become an entrepreneur.

“Gene inspired me to become self-employed, and I was from 2005-2015,” Schmelzer said. “In fact, I survived the Great Recession thanks to his influence. After graduating, no one was hiring in Columbus where I wanted to live, especially for a newbie videographer. However, thanks to Gene’s inspiration, and support from my family, I started passing out business cards instead of resumes and eventually garnered enough business to stay afloat.”

Starting out had its challenges, and the work did not necessarily always reflect Schmelzer’s ultimate goal as a videographer. “When I started I was freelancing and taking whatever media-related job I could get,” he said. “I did legal depositions, weddings and made videos, and made both videos and also websites for small, obscure companies. After a while I was able to work on larger projects with bigger companies and eventually work with clients like Nationwide Insurance, Chipotle, White Castle and several others. I even shot some news stories for ABC’s ‘20/20’ and for MSNBC.”

Through the variety of projects that he has worked on, Schmelzer said he has found his passion as a creative. Over 10 years later, he’s starting to realize his niche, which is directing and editing. While he enjoys the technical and creative aspects of filmmaking, his passion is the creative side.

“I like coming up with the concept and making sure the communications are clear, clever and can cut through,” he said. “While going out on a shoot is definitely the fun part, I personally feel like crafting the story in the edit room is more rewarding, so I can say I like that part most: crafting and releasing the final piece.”

Since the beginning of his career, Schmelzer has increasingly developed collaborations with other filmmakers. His work has evolved from being personal to being more collaborative.

“I always wanted to do things on my own in order to prove my capabilities, but as time passes, I’m realizing that does nothing but create limits,” he said. “Not only can it be more fun to work with others, but it can drastically improve the end product, it opens so many doors and opportunities. ‘We’re The Shazzbots!’ was a monumental achievement that could certainly never have been done alone.”

While he enjoys creating advertisements for their short and clever content, his greatest enthusiasm lies in music videos, an area that he hopes to gain more experience in. “Music videos are my biggest passion, and my biggest idols in the industry are music video directors like Chris Cunningham, Mark Romanek and Spike Jonze,” he said. “Creatively speaking, music videos can break all of the rules of filmmaking, and the creative possibilities are limitless — hence, why I started working with The Shazzbots. The concept of the show was based around music and ideally includes a music video per episode.

In the future Schmelzer hopes to repeat the success he has had in advertising with music videos. “I’d like to continue to grow in the advertising industry and work on awesome projects like I have been,” he said. “I’d like to break more into the music video industry and grow my portfolio in that area.”  

He also has hopes for future productions of “We’re The Shazzbots!”

“Eventually, I’d like to have my own creative agency that focuses on only the most creative and exceptional commercial content,” he said. “I’d also love for ‘We’re The Shazzbots!’ to take off.” Schmelzer and the team are looking to secure funds and distribution to continue the development of the brand and program.