Ben Brodsky, c’17, produced a video chronicling his KU experience with familiar campus scenes sure to resonate with alumni. After posting his homage to his alma mater on social media, the video quickly went viral, generating more than 100,000 views during the first week of KU classes. Students and alumni alike could relate to his moving images and the poetic word play provided by Brodsky’s classmate and collaborator, Amie Just, j’17, profiled here. We caught up with Brodsky to go behind the scenes and learn more about the project and his KU journey.
Ben, we love your video. What inspired the project?
During my second year at KU, I took a class called After Effects where our professor showed us a short called “Traditions.” A combination of the cinematography, KUs rich history, and the intentional rhythmic storyline combining both narration and film left me inspired. I wanted to create something that left viewers feeling the same emotional connection and pride in our University as it did to me. On top of that, I’m always looking to grow as a filmmaker and this style of short allowed me to challenge myself.
(Editor’s note: We remember that video! We profiled KU alumnus and spoken word poet Topher Enneking, who was involved in the project, in 2014.)
How do you want Jayhawks to react after watching it?
As I said before, I want viewers to feel an emotional connection to KU and pride for their campus. At the same time, I want all future Jayhawks to see this video and become excited about the 4-year journey they’re about to embark on. With KU’s rich history, there are so many traditions and experiences all Jayhawks share. Experiences that are multi-generational. As the narration and scenes cuts to different locations on campus I want viewers to see themselves having those experiences.
I want alumni reminiscing about the hours they spent camping for basketball, the classes they sat through at Budig Hall, the organizations they met at Wescoe Beach, and the feeling that, while we all become Jayhawks, the Jayhawk becomes apart of us.
I want them to be present in that shared KU experience, whether they’re a future Jayhawk who is looking forward or an alumnus looking back. Everyone who goes to KU–and even people who just visit–know there is something special about our campus and culture. As those who live it, we understand it. For those who don’t live it, I hope they’ll understand it through this video.
We definitely think they’ll understand after watching. So how would you describe your KU experience?
Throughout high school, I struggled to find myself. I remember the day my twin brother, Sam, and I received our acceptance, it was an easy decision for us to attend KU. From the first time I stepped foot onto Jayhawk Blvd to walking through the Campanile at Graduation, KU was home. I was supported academically by incredible professors who continuously challenged me and my skills. I was supported socially by the community I found in fraternity life, and I was supported professionally by my friends and other community members who gave me the opportunity to create films for them. KU was everything I was hoping college life would be and more.
Now that you’ve walked down the hill, what’s next?
I am passionate about cinematography and media, as I hope my video, KU- A Journey, showcased. My twin brother Sam, and I started our own video production company in the Minneapolis area called Brodsky Productions. Right now, we are focusing on creating our business plan so that we can continue to grow and provide spectacular cinematic and emotionally moving short films for our clientele. So far, we’ve provided photography and videography services to create documentaries, music videos, wedding videos, event recaps, retail and product spotlights and much more. We’re hoping as our company develops, we will find our niche and focus our efforts in that direction. We’re also hoping that as we continue to meet and network with professionals in the area, we’ll find mentors who are eager to help us grow and succeed. So far we’ve been very fortunate and we’re excited to see where the future takes us!
No doubt your talents, developed and honed at KU, will take you far! But no matter how far you fly beyond the golden valley, remember–as your video reminds all Jayhawks–that there’s no place like home! Rock Chalk!
“As new Jayhawks arrive on the Hill, it’s hard not to get nostalgic about our four years.”
Before Ben Brodsky walked down the Hill last May, he could sense it was coming. That feeling of nostalgia that all alumni understand was becoming all too real, and Brodsky, c’17, wanted to hit save and preserve his time at KU. Fortunately, the talented film and media studies major had shot hours of footage during his time on campus; timeless scenes that also captured a place in time.
His memories. His journey. But one with which we could all relate.
Brodsky got right to work, even before walking down the Hill. With the help of his twin brother Sam, b’17, he founded Ben Brodsky Films and Photography in 2013, applying his talents and education to projects for clients. As his commencement loomed, one project became more personal.
The result of the effort that he began as a student and finished as an alumnus, was a three-minute and forty-two-second video that was posted on social media this week, as students returned to the Hill to start the fall semester. Almost immediately the video became a viral sensation, with views topping 100,000 in the first three days.
Naturally, this time of year makes all of us remember what it was like heading off to college.
“Feels like yesterday I was jumping out of the mini van, unloading my college dorm room onto the hot Kansas pavement,” Brodsky posted on YouTube. “I remember my mom telling me ‘these are the best 4 years of your life, enjoy every minute of them!'”
Brodsky offered his own advice to freshmen flocking to the Hill.
“To all incoming Jayhawks,” he added, “experience everything you can; there is no limit to what you can do.” On Facebook, he added a shared sentiment.
“New Jayhawks, we hope you love this place as much as we do.”
Brodsky could have been referring to all alumni when we said “we,” but in this case, it was a nod to his project partner and collaborator, Amie Just, j’17, who scripted the video. Her words, which resonate with all Jayhawks, constitute a poem she calls, simply, “Home.” (Read our interview with Amie Just here.)
We love the combination of moving images and words that so beautifully capture the KU experience, drawing us closer together and to our beloved alma mater.
“Through the good times and the stressful ones,” he concludes, “KU was, and will always be, home.”
The following poem was penned by Amie Just, j’17, as an ode to her alma mater, simply titled: Home. Just wrote the script to accompany a video produced by a KU classmate, Ben Brodsky, c’17, celebrating the KU student experience. That video project, titled “KU: A Journey” has been viewed on social media more than 100,000 times by KU alumni, students and Jayhawk fans. And we agree, it is absolutely glorious to view. The images are beautiful, and the words, read by a familiar-sounding announcer, are sure to resonate. We talked to Just about her role in the project, and we’ve reprinted the poem, with permission, below for Jayhawks to enjoy.
This is home.
As tulips and sunflowers bloom, curious minds blossom too.
From Fraser Hall to Wescoe Beach, Allen Fieldhouse to Budig Hall.
This is home.
As tulips and sunflowers bloom,
curious minds blossom too.
Atop Mount Oread, nothing is out of reach.
From Fraser Hall to Wescoe Beach,
Allen Fieldhouse to Budig Hall
This is KU.
The future fills these classrooms.
Growing in expertise and insight,
dispersing elsewhere as the whistle blows.
We’re different, every one of us.
Ranging from business to journalism,
Knowledge flows through this golden valley we call KU
There’s no limit on where we come from or what we do.
From the first night, to the last.
Jayhawks, we are meant to be.
We are KU, born again anew.
Waving the wheat isn’t just for crops.
Seeing The Phog isn’t just for rainy days.
Lottery. Camping. Late Night.
the stories of yesterday tossed in the air as newsprint confetti.
The Rock Chalk Chant and Alma Mater sung loud and clear.
Tradition is KU.
This place becomes a part of you.
And we all become a part of this place.
Champions are born here.
Leaders are cultivated here.
Innovation is pioneered here.
Basketball grew its roots here.
Dreams become reality here
KU is us. KU is you.
But it doesn’t last forever here.
There’s a time to leave the nest.
Descending down the Hill for the very last time,
walking through a tower of remembrance for commencement.
Dressed in cap and gown, graduating Jayhawks march down the Hill of education and memories.
For one last time, the Rock Chalk Chant hums, for this is now our Alma Mater
No matter where we Jayhawks fly,
No matter how long we’re away,
Our absence is only temporary, as
KU will always be home.
We spoke with Amie Just, j’17, one of the collaborators behind the viral video sensation titled KU: A Journey. Just worked with KU classmate Ben Brodsky, a KU film studies major we profiled here, and contributed the script that would accompany the video footage collected during four years of campus shoots. The script might have otherwise been a stretch for the sports journalist Just. However, with the alma mater as her muse, the writing was poetic, and she titled her poem, which can be read here in its entirety, Home. Get to know the writer behind the behind the video that has resonated with so many Jayhawks in our exclusive interview with Amie Just.
What inspired you to write the poem for this video?
Ben (Brodsky, c’17) texted me in mid-April saying that he wanted to collaborate to make a video highlighting four years of memories at KU. The original idea was that the video and the accompanying poem would be a collage of the meaningful experiences we had in Lawrence.
Ben, the talented videographer that he is, had 1,000s of hours of video that he’d taken over the course of his college career and wanted to create something powerful with some of those clips. I thought it would be a good way to wrap up my time at KU, so I decided to go for it.
I wrote at least 25 different versions of the poem. I reworked some phrases, scratched full lines, changed words to different synonyms, restructured and moved things around dozens of times as well to get something I was proud of. The original piece I worked up maybe has one or two lines that are the same from the final product. I’m definitely not a poet — I’m a journalist. Those two writing styles are quite different, but I’m happy with how it turned out.
How do you want Jayhawks to react after watching it?
I want Jayhawks to feel a full range of emotions. That’s what I was trying to convey with my word choice. While we were at KU, we all had just about every emotion flare up from time to time. I wanted people to smile. I wanted people to laugh. I wanted people to feel a sense of belonging, nostalgia and homesickness. I wanted the words to make Jayhawks fondly remember their time at KU.
Words can be extremely powerful, especially when they’re paired with incredible images. I couldn’t have expressed all the feelings people had when watching this video in words. That’s why I chose to be minimal with them — let the viewers have their own feelings about what they were seeing and hearing. Different Jayhawks have different memories from the Chi O Fountain or Wescoe Beach. Being selective in word choice lets people go back to those memories and relive those feelings. I think that’s why people are having such a positive reaction to it. No one is telling them how to feel; They’re just feeling.
How have people responded after seeing it?
Several of my friends have reached out to me and said that they cried watching the video because it made them really miss their college experience. I never meant to make anyone cry, but I feel really honored that something we created elicits such a powerful response from people.
Other people said they got goosebumps or chills or a feeling they couldn’t explain. I get goosebumps every time I read the words of my poem or watch the video, or, truthfully, every time I think about this project. I’ve done a lot of writing in my day, but very few pieces have given me such a sense of fulfillment like this.
More than 80,000 times this video has been viewed on Facebook with more than 1,400 shares and 1,000 likes (editor’s note: as of this writing, views have eclipsed 100,000). That just demonstrates how incredible KU and the student, faculty, staff and alumni base is. These two recent grads put together a sentimental video about the University of Kansas and it hits home with all of us for different reasons. That’s just how special this place is. That’s the reason we wanted to do this in the first place — just showcase how much KU means to all of us.
Can you tell us about your KU experience?
I was a journalism major with minors in English and Human Sexuality. I spent the majority of my time in Memorial Stadium, Allen Fieldhouse, Stauffer-Flint or the Kansan newsroom in Dole. I didn’t exactly have the traditional student experience since I covered Kansas football and basketball for the majority of my time in school, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Going to sporting events was part of my education. I learned a lot that way and it absolutely prepared me for where I am now.
Because of my work as a student journalist at the Kansan, I had the opportunity to string for the Associated Press, contribute for the Topeka Capital-Journal and intern for the Washington Post all while I was in college.
I was also a member of Omega Phi Alpha. That was a huge part of my collegiate life because giving back to the communities I live in is really important to me. That’s also why I gave my time as a Journalism Student Ambassador and served as president and public relations director and gave back on the Journalism Student Leadership Board on the diversity committee. I was really fortunate to have the opportunities that I had within the J-School and sharing those experiences with others was something I enjoyed. Recruiting future Jayhawk Journalists to a journalism school that I helped make better is something I’m really proud of. Going to KU was the right choice. No other place in the world could have given me the experiences and opportunities that the KU J-School did.
What are your plans after KU?
After graduation I accepted a job in Missoula, Montana, covering University of Montana football for the Missoulian and all Lee Montana newspapers. I tell people that Missoula is an alternate universe version of Lawrence. I get a lot of the same vibes by walking around downtown and on campus. But there just happens to be mountains on all four sides with rivers skirting through.
I’ll try to get back someday soon. Maybe Kansas football can schedule the Grizzlies as a future FCS opponent? One can hope.
Yes, one can hope! Thanks for sharing your KU experience and this wonderful poem with KU alumni, Amie. We hope to see you come back “home” soon. Rock Chalk!