Every year the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) honor the accomplishments of municipal television stations by giving them awards. This year, Village of Oak Park TV6 manager, producer, cameraman, and editor Joe Kreml won his 21st.
He won his latest awards for Still Fresh: 30 Years of the Oak Park Farmers’ Market,” which was produced to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Oak Park’s longstanding fresh produce institution. The film won first place in both the event and profile categories of documentaries. He also won first place in the public information and community awareness categories for The Return of Barrie Park, a documentary chronicling the cleanup and reopening last year of Oak Park’s infamous remediation project.
Kreml said the Farmers’ Market film was one of his favorite projects to date.
“That one was cool because it was more of a true documentary,” he said. “It was kind of a fun project because we talked to Marge Gockel who was really the backbone of that video. She was there for the start of the Farmers’ Market and had a lot of great stories about it,” he said.
Gockel’s expertise on the subject made Kreml’s job much easier.
“I do like the opportunity to let somebody tell the story, as opposed to someone else telling the story of it. I always like historical things when you give someone an opportunity to talk about something that they really are passionate about, and they just kind of wind up doing the work for you,” he said.
Kreml remains modest yet happy to have won the awards this year.
“It’s nice to get recognized. What’s nice about the competition is that it’s judged by your peers, and you get feedback on it and everything,” he said. “It’s judged on all these different categories: production, lighting, sound, but also on the content and how effectively you’re getting the message across. That’s kind of cool, to get that sort of direct feedback on it.”
Even though Kreml was presented with the award individually, he knows the creation of the winning films was a group endeavor. “It takes a collective effort. When you see movies and TV shows and they have a long list of credits, it’s for a reason. There’s just a lot of people involved.”
Joe Kreml grew up in suburban Bloomingdale. After graduating from Columbia College in 1991 with a degree in communications, film, and video, he got a job at Wheaton Village Hall as a public access producer. In 2000, after seven years with Wheaton, Kreml made the switch over to Oak Park Village Hall.
Of his career choice, he says, “I was just making videos and that sort of thing on my own with some friends of mine in college and then a job opened up [in Wheaton], and I started out working in public access and then moved on to government access when a job opened, and it blossomed from there.”
Working in Oak Park made his job a little easier, because there’s always something going on. “Oak Park makes it more interesting because there’s a lot of people who are pretty passionate about what they do, and so there’s some cool things out there to do videos on. It does make my job easier when you’re in a town like Oak Park where there’s a lot of interesting things going on,” he said.
He knows that some may find the films he produces unexciting, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, this stuff is boring,’ but, if you do it right, you can make anything watchable. You have to take into consideration who the audience is. Oak Park has talked a lot about what a unique community it is, and I think it’s cool to have some shows on there [TV6] where you get to learn who people are. It helps add to the closeness of the town. I live in Berwyn, and I don’t know who the police chief is; I don’t know who the fire chief is. It’s cool to add that community sort of thing. I could turn this on and say, ‘Hey, I know who that is.'”