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Published: Friday, 6/6/2003

Students test reel world

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
`It really doesn't matter if the show they create is good or not. Getting there is the fun,' says Jeffrey Shore of E! Entertainment Television, Inc., who has been helping the class. `It really doesn't matter if the show they create is good or not. Getting there is the fun,' says Jeffrey Shore of E! Entertainment Television, Inc., who has been helping the class.
LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge

BOWLING GREEN - Students in a new film-and-television production workshop at Bowling Green State University knew they would be challenged.

They would learn from some of the industry's best, using equipment only found in the country's top film schools or on production sets.

What many of the 30 students didn't know was just how much fun hard work could be.

With cameras hoisted on their shoulders and wires dangling around them, the students tackled the town in search of locales and interesting people for their reality-based show.

The show won't be watched by millions of viewers nor will it feature exotic locations or million-dollar prizes. By today - the final day of the week-long shoot - the students will have gone through every step a professional crew would undertake to create a television program.

“This is about as real as it gets. It's hands-on experience,” said Kevin Stone, 21, of Springboro, Ohio, who acted as chief videographer through the final week of class. “We're getting real-life experience, and, on top of that, it's really fun.”

Bowling Green State University students Kevin Stone, left, and Jeremy Rober decide what to do next after they were asked to leave the Salvation Army Thrift Store, in the background, where they wanted to film for their reality TV program. Bowling Green State University students Kevin Stone, left, and Jeremy Rober decide what to do next after they were asked to leave the Salvation Army Thrift Store, in the background, where they wanted to film for their reality TV program.
LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge

The class, Narratives in Film and Television Production, is about filmmaking and producing shows and how to finance such projects. It's about learning with professional grade equipment and developing the skills needed for moviemaking.

It's a class that offers opportunities not found in many other undergraduate telecommunications courses in the country, Jose Cardenas said. He created the program to teach students everything he wished he knew when he graduated from film school in 1985.

Chief videographer for WBGU and the technical coordinator for the class, Mr. Cardenas said he proposed the course as a way of getting people from the industry in as guest lecturers.

It blossomed into a three-week course that some students labeled a “film boot camp.”

Week one focused on film and offered students a chance to shoot on 35 mm film. It was taught by cinematographer and editor Bill Pivetta, and the week included the use of about $150,000 worth of film equipment.

Week two, taught by writer and director Jay Woelfel, gave students the information they needed to finance and distribute their films.

And finally, Jeffrey Shore, a BGSU alumnus and vice president of production for E! Entertainment Television, Inc., came to guide students through the creation of a reality television show.

The creator of True Hollywood Stories, Mr. Shore spent 15 years in the field taping programs. He now hopes that experience will develop the young talent crowded around editing machines in a downstairs classroom in the university's West Hall.

“It really doesn't matter if the show they create is good or not,” he acknowledged. “But getting there is the fun.”

Students created a premise for their show - two financially strapped college kids who will undertake challenges for money - then set off in downtown Bowling Green to shoot. Mr. Shore explained that reality television isn't about real life, but instead about real people handling set-up scenarios, such as when the students filmed their classmates undertaking a challenge at a local bar sponsoring a drag queen contest.

“I'm having fun,” said Mr. Shore, a benefactor of the university's pop culture library. “I had a good time watching these kids have fun.”

They shot the footage, edited the tapes, re-shot more footage, and in the end created a 22-minute episode of what they dubbed The Jen & Cliff Show.

It's a project never before done before at the university, and one that Mr. Cardenas said sparked a lot of interest among students.

Krystal Clemente, a junior from Akron, said until she signed up for the summer class, she had no real hands-on experience to go along with the telecommunications degree she hopes to earn.

Student Evan Bell edits the show the class has filmed. Student Evan Bell edits the show the class has filmed.
LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge

With a goal of being a producer, the 19-year-old said she took advantage of the guest lecturers and gleaned as much information every chance she had.

“This is my favorite way of learning, hands-on I mean,” she said. “I couldn't ask for anything more.”

Her classmates agreed. To earn their five credits, the students spent hours in the classroom and even more out in the field.

And, like members of real production crews, they worked to keep the cameras rolling - one day until 2 a.m.

“I'm learning more than I ever dreamed of learning in this class,” said Brad Carper, 22, of Tiffin. “Everything is so real, just like we were a part of a real crew.”



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