Cameras and boom microphones took over a second-floor area of Woodland Middle School in Gurnee for a safety video production that featured students, teachers and local police.
Gurnee police and Woodland Elementary District 50 collaborated in Friday afternoon's production. It'll be geared for school employees who didn't receive formal training about lockdown procedures because they were hired in the middle of an academic year.
Woodland officials and police began discussions about the district's safety and security measures in place after the December tragedy in Newtown, Conn. They agreed the video will fill a gap until the new employees receive the annual, in-person lockdown training at the start of the next school season.
Crime prevention technician Tom Agos, who spearheaded the project, said the video will enhance the safety and security protocols.
"I think we're going to find that there's many, many school districts that have a need for this," Agos said. "We certainly have a need for this in our three (Gurnee) school districts."
About 60 volunteers participated in the production, including Gurnee officers, Lake County sheriff's deputies, Woodland children, teachers, and students from Columbia College in Chicago. Columbia College's crew received extra credit for handling cinematography, lighting and technical support for the DVD that will be offered for free to schools across the country.
One of the scenes, directed by Columbia television instructor Matt Till, occurred in a second-floor middle school classroom where high-grade lighting, cameras and microphones were used. Woodland teacher Ellen Crahan checked the hallway and called seventh-grade students Riley Doyle and Morgan Niesen to the room for a "hard lockdown," which means danger lurked inside the building.
"Anyone out here?" asked a calm Crahan before noticing the girls. "Ladies, ladies, come on."
Crahan eventually directed three rows of students to a closet in the classroom.
Television and voice-over actor Chris Agos, the police crime prevention technician's brother, helped to assemble the volunteer crew. Chris Agos and Woodland Associate Superintendent of Education Lori Casey greet viewers to open the scripted video.
Chris Agos, who appeared in a recent "Chicago Fire" episode, said he saw an opportunity to create a professional video after his brother mentioned the idea to him. Tom Agos originally had planned to work with another police employee in producing the DVD with an iPad.
"I thought it was a great idea," Chris Agos said.
Columbia College's students will boil down about two hours of footage into a 10- to 12-minute video. They are expected to have a final product in about five weeks.