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Making 'Midlife' - viral vid leads to USNA Web show

Dec. 23, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Midshipman Produces an Inside Look at MidLife
Midshipman Produces an Inside Look at MidLife: Midshipman Produces an Inside Look at MidLife
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Midshipman 2nd Class Adam Vetere, right, records footage Dec. 13 of the annual ball run ahead of the Army-Navy game for 'MidLife,' his web series about midshipmen at Annapolis, Md. (Mike Morones/Staff)

A year ago, Midshipman 2nd Class Adam Vetere made quite a splash online with his co-produced Naval Academy “Gangnam Style” spirit spot.

That video earned him a talking-to from academy officials because he was filming in some campus settings without permission. But now he’s back on YouTube, and this time he’s got the academy’s wholehearted support.

Vetere is the host and vision behind “MidLife,” a Web series featuring “the extraordinary things midshipmen do in their free time,” Vetere said.

“ ‘MidLife’ is just a fun Web series that is mostly meant for parents looking for information on what their kids are doing, other than the typical, ‘I’m here to serve’ response,” he told Navy Times.

The show is a collaboration with academy public affairs staff, who put out a call at the beginning of this school year for mids to produce media products that go behind the walls of Bancroft Hall, where the mids live and spend much of their free time.

“So, in essence, we gave them free rein to produce photos, videos, stories, spirit spots and social media content in the hopes of, one, better engaging the mids as an audience for these public affairs products, and two, allowing the external audience to see exactly how talented the mids are,” academy spokesman Cmdr. John Schofield said.

Vetere is a general engineering major and track and field athlete who took a video production class in high school and has been working on his craft ever since. Together, Adam and his twin brother, Mark, set up DoubleBond Productions, a YouTube channel showcasing their work.

Mark is also a midshipman second class, but he’s not working on “MidLife.”

Thanks to the brothers’ Gangnam incident, Adam Vetere said he became familiar with the academy’s public affairs office. He presented the “MidLife” idea and Schofield said his team was “all in.”

“At first I had no idea where to start,” Vetere said. “It took me about a month and half to try and get the first episode together. But once I did have the first episode together, I had the next three already set up.”

The first episode went live Nov. 13, documenting the live broadcast of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” from campus in honor of Veterans Day. Next came Movember, about a group of mids’ efforts to grow mustaches during November to raise awareness of men’s health.

The good will continued in Episode 3, a feature on the annual Lights-on-the-Bay Christmas lights showcase at Sandy Point State Park, Md. The Midshipman Action Group put together volunteers to help set up the lights, which are sponsored by the local Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Episode 4 is due out Jan. 8, and it’ll cover the festivities surrounding the annual Army-Navy football game. Midshipmen won handily Dec. 14 with a 34-7 final score.

(See all the episodes here)

Vetere said he’s not sure what’s next for “MidLife,” but he’s toying with the idea of highlighting the Dark Ages, a three-month period at the academy with no breaks or holidays.

“I’m thinking of putting together a little skit or something like that with some of the other mids in my company, to try and lighten the spirit,” he said.

Though public affairs gives feedback on the content of the shows, both Schofield and Vetere said that the administration is minimally involved.

“Their videos will effectively and accurately showcase and chronicle mid life only if we steer clear of exerting too much — if any — editorial control,” Schofield said.

Vetere said that, after his experience following the “Gangnam Style” video, he’s got a better idea of what’s allowed.

“I mean, I have to keep it within good taste,” he said. “And I’ve worked with public affairs for so long that I know what they’re looking for, and what I can and can’t do.”

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