BELLINGHAM - Aspiring filmmakers could soon learn how to produce and submit content for the city's public-access television channel after City Council voted this week to provide money for a pilot training program.
At the regular Monday night meeting on Aug. 11, the six council members present - Jack Weiss was absent - approved $50,000 for public training and equipment, such as cameras, software, computers and other items needed to produce high-quality shows.
As a first step, the city will host informational meetings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 9 and 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Ave. The sessions will cover basics like when, where and how to submit videos, and give city staff the chance to gauge what might be needed for public equipment and training, said Brian Heinrich, executive coordinator in the mayor's office.
"We want to know what is it you want us to provide," Heinrich said. "We also want to make sure people know the rules. For instance, you can't violate copyright and it will be non-commercial, so we'll go over what that means."
The second step in implementing the program will be training. The city plans to request proposals using input from the information sessions to look for trainers who might teach people how to use city equipment, record audio and set up lighting. The training also could cover topics like how to tell a story, Heinrich said.
The money is coming from franchise fees paid to the city from cable provider Comcast/Xfinity. The city will use those funds to pay for the yearlong trial, during which about six hours per week will be set aside on the city's existing government cable channel, BTV10, for public-access programs.
The city will accept video submissions starting Sept. 15. City staff members will not exercise editorial control over the videos and simply will queue them up for the allotted time, Heinrich said.
The first videos could air between 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, and midnight Oct. 6. For videos that are 10 minutes or longer, staff may be able to publish a schedule online beforehand so viewers can tune in to catch a specific show.
Full details about how to submit videos will be put on the city's website in the next few weeks.