Broadcasting projects can lead anywhere. One took Ray Kalas, an independent producer before he started teaching at County College of Morris, into the world of film noir.
“Our client, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, came to us with a challenge: show their cargo agents how the airlines moved packages from point A to point B worldwide,” recalls Kalas, professor of communication at County College of Morris. The solution: follow a Sam Spade character tracking a package from New York to Casablanca.
“We shot the film in black and white, hinted about what was in the package and turned it into a contest. The cargo agent who guessed the package contents would win a trip around the world.” Participants had to watch the videos repeatedly for hints. The film increased the airline’s cargo tonnage by millions of dollars.
“It was like making a full-length movie except we did it all in a 10-minute video,” says Kalas. The film won a CLIO, ORCA (Dutch award) and International Television Association Award. Kalas wrote and produced the video on a modest $300,000 budget.
He says his entry into broadcasting was inspired by the times. “I’m part of the first TV generation. I remember the tiny square box in the big cabinet and wanted to be part of it.”
First he served in the Air Force and was discharged near San Francisco. “Coincidentally, that was the location of one of the largest broadcasting schools in the world – San Francisco State University,” he recalls.
“To work in the entertainment industry is not working; it’s fun. And not doing the same thing every day – perhaps that’s the most exciting thing.”
After decades in the field, he decided to take on a new challenge: teaching what he learned to a new generation of broadcast professionals.
“I found that I enjoyed teaching more than being in the field,” says Kalas. “I love seeing students get excited about what they do. Knowing you’ve really reached someone is gratifying. I don’t know of any other job where you come home at night and feel as much a sense of accomplishment as that. I love working with students. They keep me going. I have not had a bad
day in 14 years.”