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CCHS grad directs PBS series

Maxx Walters edits material for the PBS series "Step It Up with Steph" that he produced, directed and edited.
Maxx Walters edits material for the PBS series "Step It Up with Steph" that he produced, directed and edited.

PBS will gain a new show this January, directed, produced, and edited by Maxx Walters — a 2014 Creston Community High School graduate.

Walters, the son of Shari and John Walters of Creston, currently works as the content creator for Chicago Helicopter Experiences while freelancing on projects such as “Step It Up with Steph.”

The six-episode show slated to air nationwide on PBS in January features self-help and weight loss coach, Stephanie Mansour, who has appeared on Dr. Phil, the Today Show and CNN. Each episode will focus on a topic that affects women, such as weight loss, perfectionism and low energy, with women who are facing that challenge as guests. A nutritional expert and a topical expert will also be on hand to give advice.

This is the second iteration of “Step It Up with Steph.” The previous version, produced by a Chicago company, failed to make it out of the local market. In 2018, Mansour approached Walters about reviving the show with him as producer.

The episodes will each end with a follow-up segment where Mansour talks to the guests one month after the original taping to see how they have fared following the advice.

Walters said the process of putting together the show has taken some time. They began in August 2018 with two months of preproduction — writing, lining up guests and experts, scheduling, finding locations, and hiring a crew — followed by two months of taping the interviews and segments.

“We’d shoot one day a week,” Walters said. “They were 14-hour days, early morning starts and hectic schedules. After that it was all post-production.”

Although the project had to be completed by January 2019, once it was submitted to PBS’s national producers, more work was necessary. Walters has spent the last year making the changes they required, editing and correcting the footage.

Walters said he was in the process of submitting the final changes this week.

Preparation

Walters has been preparing for this job since he was in high school. He was in the Environmental and Spatial Technology classes, better known as EAST and now known as CAST, at CCHS, working on the end of the year video among other projects.

“I found any opportunity I could to work on video productions,” Walters said.

While in high school and college, Walters also filmed and produced his own videos on wide-ranging subjects such as sports, friendship, weddings and music for a YouTube channel, MAXXW5. He continues to add content to the channel.

Walters participated in Future Business Leaders of America, theater, choir and large group speech at CCHS, while also maintaining a four sport schedule. For speech, he helped create a short film that went as far as All-State and he went to nationals with FBLA in video production.

After graduation, Walters attended DePaul University in Chicago, where he met and interned for Mansour. He graduated in June 2018 with a degree in digital cinema.

What’s next?

Walters said within the next few years he would like to move to Los Angeles to work on film making in the Hollywood area. In the meantime, he will continue working full time for Chicago Helicopter Experience and fitting in freelance work in videography and editing.

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