On Stage

Access Bellingham

As seen on TV

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

At 6pm every Sunday night, television viewers can tune in to Comcast Channel 10 or watch online as their friends and neighbors fill the screen as part of Access Bellingham. For the past two years, Eero Johnson of EJ Visuals has been helping bring people’s visions to life—whether it’s a sketch comedy show, a cooking how-to, live performances, documentaries or a dancing hamster.

Cascadia Weekly: How did you get involved with Access Bellingham?

Eero Johnson: I’ve been producing videos for years and I’ve been a fan of public access since I was a kid in Seattle. So when I was asked to teach classes and organize equipment for Access Bellingham, I jumped at the chance.

CW: Community members from all walks of life are producing television shows for Access Bellingham. What aspect of filming are they responsible for?

EJ: Participants are responsible for everything. That’s the model of public access, it belongs to us as the public. So we as a community are responsible for creating the station and making programs. And individual producers have full editorial control.

On any given night, you might walk in to find a retired business owner and a wacky artist working together on a project. Or a war veteran and a high school student. It’s really fun to see what comes out of that mix.

CW: What are the guidelines?

EJ: Public Access is non-commercial programming, so you can’t sell things or ask for donations. You also can’t break the law; for example, you can’t use copyrighted music. Other than that it’s pretty open. Also, you have to be a Bellingham resident since the program is funded by the City.

CW: What’s exciting about helping share these programs with the community?

EJ: I love turning on the television on Sunday night and seeing people I know, and seeing shows friends have produced. You’re going to find a lot higher production values on Netflix, but you’re not going to find a documentary about the Community Boating Center, or watch your neighbor singing onstage at the iDiOM.

CW: What’s involved in the upcoming Camera Certification class?

EJ: It’s a chance to learn about public access and the cameras and gear we have available. After someone completes the certification classes, we continue to meet every Tuesday night for special workshops or to produce shows.

CW: How else can people get involved?

EJ: Anyone can contribute a program. You don’t need to take the classes. Just make a video, put it on a thumb drive or data DVD and drop it off at City Hall. Then turn on your TV on Sunday night.

CW: How is the training and the use of camera and editing equipment free?

EJ: I think offering the training and the video gear for free is just another way the City of Bellingham is working to give as many people the chance to be involved as possible.

CW: What are your most memorable programs?

EJ: I like the shows that connect us with other local groups. I love the shows David Huss and his team are filming at the iDiOM Theater. I enjoyed working with our local horror film crew to produce the first episode of Bleedingham TV. Kate Nichols and Carol Baker just worked with Stand.earth to film musicians and poets supporting the Salish Sea.

If I had to pick one moment, it was when I first saw the dancing hamster in Patrick Timmins’ sketch comedy show, The Hidden Hamster. That was a moment that captures what I love about public access—that you just never know what you’re going to get.

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