Dani Horbiak’s love for making videos began when she was in middle school, has continued throughout her college career and will presumably lead to her eventual career path.
“When I was in middle school, my best friend Katie and I started making these silly videos,” explains the senior media production major. “We started making music videos for fun, then we started making videos for some of our class projects instead of writing papers or giving presentations.”
“It was so nerdy, but these are the types of things that got me interested in videos and taught me all of the mistakes that I had to make before I figured out what I was doing,” Dani says of her early days involving television and film production.
During her sophomore year at Marist, Dani was enrolled in a lower-level video production class. In the class, she was paired with fellow student Nick Tormey to create a video as part of an assignment. Although they produced a decent project, the duo weren’t satisfied with the outcome.
“We weren’t super happy with it so we said we wanted to try again with it. We wanted to make something better and the Silver Fox Awards [Marist award show for videos produced on campus] were what gave us that drive to do so,” Dani says.
Dani knew exactly which direction she would travel to make a video that was better than the last. “I know things tend to go viral around Marist when they are showing the campus off, with all of the people, the atmosphere and the beautiful views,” Dani explains.
So when she realized that ‘Uptown Funk’ by Bruno Mars was one of the most popular songs at the time, she knew what she had to do. “I dressed myself up as Bruno Mars, and Nick and I just went out and shot footage of me lip syncing and dancing [to ‘Uptown Funk’] around different places on campus,” Dani says.
After almost an entire semester of production, Dani and Nick completed the video and submitted it to the Silver Fox Awards—where it won first place. “We won!” Dani says. “It was amazing for us, and I’d also received a lot of attention from my friends who had seen it. There was even a teacher who showed it to her entire class.” At this point, Dani knew video production was the thing she was most passionate about. “Working on that project was incredible, and then having a lot of the [Marist] community agree, that was really big,” she says.
After her 15 minutes of ‘Uptown Funk’ fame were up, Dani continued on her path to video production success. During her junior year, she worked as the video producer at the Pare Lorentz Center at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt House in Hyde Park, N.Y. This position then led her to get in touch with one of the coordinators at Viacom’s Nickelodeon.
“The people at Nickelodeon were really impressed that I had the FDR experience, but they picked someone else, and that was really hard for me,” Dani reflects. She continues, “But then, they said they saw me as a really great potential candidate, so they recommended me for another position and I ended up getting that one.”
Dani spent the summer 2016 before her senior year as an ‘On-Air Promos’ intern for Nickelodeon. She loved the organization so much that she applied for a second internship with them, and during the fall 2016 worked as a ‘Talent and Casting’ intern who researches and auditions people who have the potential to be the ‘next big thing’ on Nickelodeon.
In the future, Dani hopes to work in entertainment television, and pictures herself at a company like Viacom or NBC. In the meantime, though, her time spent at Marist is not going to waste. She works at the Media Center in Lowell Thomas, is the vice president of Marist College Television (MCTV) and produces the MCTV game show ‘Outside the Box.’ No matter what the future has in store, Dani will never forget how she got her start and fell in love with video production.
“The point where I realized my passion and that really got me into this whole thing was making music videos with my middle school best friend,” she explains. “Doing something with someone you really care about, and then seeing that the videos were something that other people really connected with, that was the first moment I knew I really loved this.”