Springfield-Clark CTC student turns interests into his own business

Kolton Rice has a lot in common with other current high school seniors. The Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center digital media student is hopeful to walk across a stage to graduate, making the most of his time while quarantining at home and eager to begin college in the fall.

Yet there’s a big difference between Rice and his peers: while some may have part-time jobs, he runs his own business, OpenEye Studios, a media production services company offering photography, video production and design.

When not doing homework or attending to business, Rice is a member of the Springfield Arts Council’s Youth Arts Ambassadors, and has traded in treading the boards of the stage to helping behind it on the technical side. His latest accomplishment was spending two weeks to pull together several videos of fellow Ambassadors singing to present a virtual choir concert.

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In just two short years, OpenEye is opening eyes, churning out eight videos for political candidates, CTC and, of course, the Arts Council. He’s also done senior portraits for fellow students.

“My clientele is growing rapidly and it’s really just taking off,” said Rice. “I like the idea of owning a business. Video marketing is one of the best ways to send your message, it mixes it all together.”

This isn’t even Rice’s first business venture, just a big step up. In his early teens, he performed as a magician at various events and loved the performing arts.

His professional aspirations took off when Rice took a chance to intern for Ethan Dewhurst of Champion City Media, sparking his interest, also gaining knowledge from other area media specialists including Eric Mata and Rod Hatfield.

He also has a strong support system of adults including his parents and teachers.

What he recognizes is what an audience wants. While his fellow Ambassadors were presenting scenes and learning performing skills at the iTheatrics workshop in Atlanta in January, Rice was learning technical skills from professionals.

“My style is who I am, it’s what I do,” he said. “I love the Ambassadors and performing, but this is what I want to do now.”

For the virtual concert, Rice got together with Arts Council arts education director Krissy Brown and chose the song “You Will Be Found” from the Tony Award-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen” that was fitting for the time we’re now in.

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The project consisted of individual Ambassadors singing the song amounting to around 20 videos, with Rice’s job making them work as one. Rice estimates he worked up to 40 hours on the project, which debuted on April 2 on the Ambassadors’ Facebook page.

“It was kind of a pain with all those videos to go through, but super fun when you see it all in play,” said Rice. “It’s really beautiful art when it comes together.”

He plans on using the video for his work portfolio and will search for other projects while trying to finish his senior year, which he hopes isn’t just online. Rice had three school projects put on hold due to the stay at home order.

This fall, Rice will enter Ohio University’s Integrated Media program, with long-term plans to take his business to the next level, possibly in one Ohio’s big cities.

For now, he just wants to make senior year memorable for more than what the pandemic may take away.

“It’s kind of a strange time, a lot is unknown,” he said. “There’s prom and graduation. I want to walk across that stage. With the power of technology, we can make it happen, I have faith.”

For more information on OpenEye Studios, go to https://openeyestudios.com/.

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