Current History: How the Video Club Met the Covid Pandemic During 2021

Following is the text of a report given on February 24 at the 11th Annual Goldie Awards Banquet by Lucy Parker, club Publicity Director and Past-President, presenting a “2021 Video Club Review.”

Good evening. How about that line-up of videos in a Covid year!! I’d say we’ve got a creative bunch of members!

While we wait for the votes to be counted, Marsha has asked me to go back through our 2021 Videograms and website posts to bring you a short “Year in Review” – so let me just start with the bad news to get it out of the way.

Photo by Barbel Dagostino

Over the close-to-10-years that I’ve been in involved in the Video Club – and my first job was as Membership Chair – we’ve seen steady growth – from about 130 members to 150 – 180 – 190 – until we topped 200. And we ended 2019 with 236 paid members, about 10 percent of them non-residents.

But in 2020, we had 147 paid members – a 38% drop — and last year, we ended up with 142. I don’t think we’re the only Village club to see falling numbers, even though we’ve done a great – and very creative – job of keeping our programs going during the pandemic. In fact, some of our classes and Forums have drawn more participants on Zoom than in-person.

But about membership – some of you may recall that in 2020, the Camera and PC Clubs offered a free year of membership, while we opted to keep on charging. So part of our membership decline is simply due to Covid and its restrictions. Another big factor is that we decided to offer all of our Zoom classes free of charge instead of our usual $5 per session charge – and we waived our usual requirement that all students join the Video Club. This policy had been an important source of both new members and income – and we lost it for the past two years.

So – more bad news — the pandemic has also had an impact on our treasury. Our long-time Treasurer Bob Kulpa told me, “We’re running in the three-thousands now – and I like to see us in the four-thousands, where we were for a long time.” Fewer paid members, no income from classes, and less money from donations explain the drop. During the past two years, we’ve done fewer of the video projects for clubs and individual residents which bring in donations. In fact, our Lab and Studio were shut down after March of 2020 and for almost half of 2021. The Video Lab reopened on June 15.

But now for the good news. What happened with Video Club activities in 2021?

Well, we scored some firsts. Thanks to Stephanie Brasher, Don Hill, and others, we participated for the first time in the Village’s popular Fourth of July parade. We issued our first Summer Learning Opportunities Schedule. We also launched a new monthly half-hour television show, “Eyes on Books” – produced in the Video Studio by Video One Productions. The show emphasizes a reader’s point of view, with the hosts discussing selected books and then talking with their best-selling authors – who, so far, have appeared on the show via Zoom. Planning for “Eyes on Books” began in August and the show debuted in December.

Which brings me to another highlight for 2021 – our representation on Village Television – coordinated with the station by Tom Nash. We were there with bells on!

Not only did our monthly travel show, “Beyond the Gates,” continue with new episodes every month – Dana Point in February, Costa Mesa in March, Laguna Niguel in September, Huntington Beach in November – and more – all requiring day-long remote shoots for the hosts and crew. Suzanne Savlov is the producer of both “Eyes on Books” and “Beyond the Gates,” by the way. One creative lady!

Tom Nash’s “Laguna Woods Stories,” also continued to introduce viewers to residents with interesting life stories every month – produced in the Video Studio with Tom hosting. And Fred Harshbarger continued to produce not one, but two monthly shows for Village TV – “Video Club Spotlight,” featuring videos by club members, and “Jazzing Around,” featuring Fred’s original West Coast jazz footage.

As for leadership, most of our team stayed in place during 2021, as they have again this year – but last year two new leaders joined our Board – Doug Sainsbury as Globe Liaison and John Glassco as YouTube Administrator. Personal priorities later forced John to take a leave of absence from club acitivites, but we’re fortunate that he’s been replaced as YouTube Administrator by a new club member – Ward Cushman.

GRFsupport for the Video Club also continued last year – thank you, GRF!! We received over $6,000 in equipment from our 2020 request. In the Video Studio, new equipment included a wireless mic system, a teleprompter, and lights. In the Video Lab, it included a $2000 iMac computer, a ceiling-mounted projector, and seven two-foot-by-five-foot tables, creating a classroom-style seating arrangement. Installing the Lab upgrades took an additional $2000 out of club funds – an unusual expense which further hit our treasury last year.

Our monthly General Meetings – in general – have taken a beating. First on Zoom, then in-person, then cancelled.

We began holding them via Zoom in 2020 and continued for a while last year with some interesting speakers from the Biola University Cinema and Media Arts faculty – plus presentations by club members John Glassco on stop-motion animation and Fred Harshbarger on filming an African safari.

In February, we moved our whole Annual Short Video Contest to Zoom, including the voting, since holding an Awards Banquet was not an option. A surprise entry came from a Bulgarian teen, Nicol Ivanova, who heard about our contest through her photography school. We showed Nicol’s video and later sent her an honorary Goldie award. Once again, Suzanne Savlov turned the contest videos into an hour-long TV show, which aired on Village Television and can now be seen on the club’s YouTube channel. The contest also received feature coverage in the Globe.

Then in September, things began looking up. After a long, summer hiatus, we returned to in-person General Meetings with Village Management Services CEO Jeff Parker updating us on the Village during Covid. In October – again in-person – VMS Information Technology Director Chuck Holland discussed our IT system – including a blow-by-blow account of the system-wide Russian computer hack VMS suffered during 2020 – and how the situation was handled – along with a discussion of our current move to the cloud and to greater data security.

In November, General Meetings hit a road block, as Covid-related staff shortages curtailed the use of most Village facilities – including evening and weekend use of our Lab and Studio. The Board suspended monthly General Meeting until further notice. The one exception is our already-scheduled program coming up on Thursday, April 21, when Los Angeles videographers Leah Glauberman-Silberman, founder of Living Memories Videos, and her associate, Chelsea Zhang will present a video-illustrated program entitled “Leave Your Legacy”  here in the 19 Restaurant at 6:30 pm. I hope you’ll plan to come!

Classes, Forums, and Short Film Showcases fared better than General Meetings in 2021. We continued our Learning Opportunities Program, offering classes via Zoom – and even, for the first time, adding a Summer Learning Opportunities Schedule to our two regular listings – Winter-Spring and Fall-Winter. Several new classes were introduced – including a very successful 10-session Video Production Workshop taught by Tom Nash throughout the summer.

The Coral VideoStudio and Apple Forums also continued their monthly meetings via Zoom. The VideoStudio Forum still meets on Zoom, led by Wolfgang Kutter. The Apple Forum returned to in-person monthly meetings September, led by Stephanie Brasher.

To enhance what we could offer to members over Zoom during the pandemic, we stepped up Short Film Showcases from quarterly to monthly – many thanks to Stephanie Brasher and Starkey for their efforts assembling the shows! In September, we returned to quarterly in-person meetings – and, by the way, a list of past Short Film Showcase videos is posted on the club website – to view or review them over YouTube.

Another item in the “2021 Good News” category was our annual Summer Bar-B-Q, chaired by Marsha Berman and held on July 11 on the Clubhouse 2 side patio – a new and unexpected location that we may use again. The Bar-B-Q was a big success – and we were finally able to present our 2021 Goldie Awards trophies in person to the winners – Stephanie Brasher, Don Hill, and John Glassco.

Finally, last year we were able to resume a new Video Club tradition – the production of short dramatic films.

In 2018 and 2019, with Tom Nash building up our confidence, Video One Productions produced the Video Club’s first two short dramatic films. The initial film, “Write It Down,” enjoyed a gala premier and Video Club Open House at our January, 2019, General Meeting – with wine, cheese, and an enthusiastic crowd. Thanks to Covid, our second film, “What? You, Too?” had its similarly-planned premier abruptly cancelled.

Last year, we resumed short dramatic film production. “The Hole in One” by Doug Sainsbury was chosen in September from eight original scripts submitted by residents and former residents. Some of the entries came to us by way of a new three-session class on “Scriptwriting for Short Dramatic Videos” which Gila Zalon and I had taught in April. Our advisor, Tom Nash, tapped me to direct the film – a real learning experience I can tell you! – with John Kelly as Producer and Jack Crawbuck as Director of Photography.

With the help of Sheila Bialka as our Dramatic Advisor, we assembled and rehearsed a great cast, headed by Jules Zalon and Artie Rosenstein. We shot the film during November and December. The author, Doug Sainsbury, was our Golf Advisor, and we assembled a great crew for remote shoots at the driving range, the Par 3 course, the 19 Restaurant, and other Village locations.

“The Hole in One” is now in post-production with Suzanne Savlov as editor – and we’re hoping to hold a premiere and Video Club Open House in late spring – God willing and “the crick don’t rise.”

So that does it for 2021. Thanks to all of you for being part of our Video Club journey during a memorable year.

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