Pioneer Course Details

Throughout the Pioneer course you'll work on 4 short stories in small teams. You can expect to commit 6-8 hours/week for 10 weeks, starting Feb 3.

Here's what you'll learn and how the projects will work.

How Pioneer Stories Work

Every 1-3 weeks you'll form a new team and start a new story. Each story will have a different focus. We've shared a preview of a few of these below. Don't worry if these projects feel intimidating -- we run workshops to teach you how to make them happen.

Profile an Alum

Learn how to get in touch with anyone you want to and how to be an effective interviewer. Put your interview together into a compelling written profile on an interesting alumnus of your choice.

Produce a Video

Learn how to produce a video, start-to-finish. We'll teach you how to storyboard your project, find the right people to interview, how to use DSLRs and other equipment, and how to edit and publish using Adobe Premiere.

Pick Your Own

Your last project is up to you: you'll be able to take the skills you've learned to produce a story in any format you'd like. You can also team up with other Pioneers to produce a story with multimedia.

There are 3 ways we support you with each project.

1. Digital Media Studio

All Pioneers gain access to our in-house digital media studio, filled with fast computers and modern camera and recording equipment. Pioneers also gain access to our clubhouses. HC members come to our clubhouses at practically all hours of the day to hang out, work on projects, or do homework. Some stay for a few minutes, some stay for hours.

2. Workshops + Check-ins

Every week all Pioneers will come to HackCville for a workshop with our team. These happen on Sundays from 5-6:30pm. You must be able to attend this each week in order to commit to the program.

The Pioneer staff also hosts office hours each week to give personalized feedback on your stories and to give hands-on teaching time with our media equipment.

3. Demo Nights

Every few weeks, a few Pioneer teams will be asked to present about their projects: what worked, what didn't, and what they learned. These are informal, fun presentations to celebrate as a community the ups and downs of creating anything new.

These presentations kick off Community Dinners, a biweekly HackCville tradition. Community Dinners are when all HackCville members come together to hear about recent projects, have dinner and drinks on HackCville, and just hang out and catch up with friends.

Meet some of the Pioneer leaders and mentors.

Robby Keough

Robby is one of The Pioneer's Program Leads and helped to develop much of its curriculum. Video production and storytelling have been his passions for eight years. He's currently pursuing a career in documentary filmmaking.

Maya Korb

Programs Director

Christina Anton

Program Coordinator

Daniel Willson

Pioneer Founder + Mentor

Rachel Liesendhal

Program Lead

Mary Rockwell

Program Lead

Sarah Dodge

Sarah Dodge is an Elliewood Fellow, HackCville's prestigious designation for top graduates who pursue their own startups post-grad. Her photography and video experience is impressive and wide-ranging. She's filmed a documentary about refugees in Serbia and Greece, competed in the Virginia Film Festival, and completed hundreds of freelancing photo and video projects over the last several years.

What You'll Learn in The Pioneer

Here are the skills you'll leave The Pioneer with through our combination of interactive workshops and project-based learning. Read more here about the goals and outcomes for all graduates of HackCville.


Digital Media Equipment + Software

Knowing how to use video equipment, Adobe software, and digital publishing tools are skills modern storytellers need and employers crave. In The Pioneer you’ll learn all of this and more.

Mindset of Expert Storytellers

You'll learn the fundamental principles of storytelling and how to approach challenging interview situations, complex stories, and more.

Communication and Networking

Get trained on the critical communication skills everyone needs in today’s world. You’ll leave The Pioneer using LinkedIn like a pro, writing professional emails with ease, and confident you can talk to anyone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to have any background experience to participate?

No, you don't! This course is designed for a variety of experience levels, but most are brand new to the skills we teach.

What's the time commitment?

You can expect to commit 6-8 hours/week for the semester. You're expected to attend the workshops and check-ins every week. These are held on multiple days and times each week to accommodate everyone's schedules. You're also expected to work on your projects at HackCville outside of the workshops and check-ins.

Outside of those commitments, you're strongly encouraged to attend Demo Nights, Community Dinners, and other HackCville community events. This is the best way to get to know more people in our community of self-starters. You'll get more out of your HackCville experience and network the more time you put into it.

How do teams work?

You register for The Pioneer as an individual. You're welcome to register (and then work with) your friends. Each time you work on a new project we'll ask you to change your team. We'll help to facilitate creating teams if you don't work with your friends.

Who is this program for?

We have students from all backgrounds, years, majors, and experience levels participate. We'd love to have you participate, too!

I have more questions.

Great! You have two options. One, stop by our Open House on Friday, January 25 from 4-6pm at #9 Elliewood Avenue. We'll have our entire staff and many of our members present to answer your questions.

You can also feel free to email us at skills@hackcville.com and we'll get back to you as soon as we can!