Garnering more than 69,000 views on YouTube and landing USD on party websites across the web, senior Byron Banasiak’s coproduced Dakota Days video last year documented the crazy and drunken escapades of college students during the university’s homecoming week. This year, Banasiak, now an alumnus, was back behind the camera filming for a new Dakota Days video set to be released Nov. 11.
Banasiak, who graduated from USD’s media & journalism department last May and has recently been working for USD marketing communications & university relations, is responsible for a large part of last year’s D-Days videos — a sequel to one that came out in 2013.
He said the new D-Days video will be much better than the past ones. The reason for this, he said, is that more people were anticipating him at their parties and were more willing to work with him.
“On Monday (of D-Days week) I went to a party, and there were like 100 kids there, on a Monday night of D-Days!” Banasiak said. “They advertised the party as ‘the D-Days video guy is coming here,’ and people just did whatever. I could tell them to do whatever. I was like a magician, and the camera was my wand.”
Mason Horacek, a USD alumnus who now works at Lawrence & Schiller, a marketing agency based in Sioux Falls, coproduced last year’s D-Days video and he believes the new video will be better than last year’s.
“If students thought that the D-Days video for last year was good, then they have no idea what is coming for the one Byron is making right now,” Horacek said.
Born and raised in Vermillion, Banasiak spent his first year of school at South Dakota State University before transferring to USD.
“I went to SDSU because all my friends went there…,” Banasiak said. “(During) my time at SDSU I would come back (to Vermillion) a lot, and when I would come back, I would party way more at USD. There are just so many more interesting people here… I just could never picture myself graduating there.”
Banasiak saw the first D-Days video and was inspired to make the second D-Days video, which he contributed to in 2015, along with Horacek.
“He (Horacek) made the first minute, using clips that I filmed, and he edited, and then the last four minutes were mine,” Banasiak said. “I saw the first D-Days video that Mason made, and I loved it. Senior year was my last year, and I really wanted to document it well. The reason I did it was just so that I could have something to remember USD by.”
Banasiak has had a passion for recording parties for several years.
“In highschool I would film stuff,” Banasiak said. “Like, Old Lumber Company, we used to own that, my family. It was a fitness center at the time, but we went out of business when the wellness center opened. I used to throw parties there in high school. I just had my iPod. I would film just stupid stuff my friends would do. I was always the guy recording everything.”
Over the years, Banasiak has developed as a storyteller.
“One of my more vivid memories of working with Byron was when we were in class,” said Teddi Joyce, a professor in the media & journalism department, who had Banasiak in several classes. “It was a writing class and they were writing a feature story. It was meant to be an in-depth profile, and telling an interesting story on their life. I vividly remember the story because he did such a nice job telling the story.”
In 2015, Horacek and Banasiak were both recognized for their work on the 2015 D-Days video by winning the Eric Sevareid Award for soft feature, a prestigious journalism award. As a result of his work on the 2015 D-Days video, a company called The Podyum that makes documentaries about American football in Europe hired Banasiak. He spent a month in Europe this September doing work for the Podyum, and is planning on going back for a six to eight month trip in January.
“We want to hit up six different countries in six different months,” Banasiak said. “And, every month, we want to make a video about whatever national team that’s playing.”