Producing Prowess – Jobs in Television Production

By Keiko Talley
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

NFL—if you don’t watch the games, you know what the letters mean: National Football League.  This year at COM, we were graced with the presence of two amazing producers who work with the NFL at an event called Producing Prowess. The two were guest speakers invited by Professor Andrea Kremer who teaches a class on the Art of the Interview.

Hilary Guy from the NFL Network, also a COM alumni, and Jordan Kronick from HBO Real Sports flew in from Los Angeles and New York respectively to give us an inside look as on their jobs as producers on various projects. When Guy started out at COM, she thought she wanted to be an on-camera reporter, but it wasn’t until her internship at the assignment desk at NBC that Guy started to fall in love with the jobs behind the camera. It was then that she decided to become a producer. Guy told students that the best thing a newcomer could do is to ask to learn a new job, or to observe a job they aren’t familiar with. Guy and Kronick both agreed that they remember those who offer to help out in other areas more than their designated jobs. She told students that was how she got to become a producer, showing her interests and making it her job to learn everyone else’s job.

Kremer

Kronick discussed his newer project Death on Everest where he spent two ski seasons in Nepal to uncover the dangers of climbing Mt. Everest. He explained the process of finding the right characters for his story and discussed how as a documentarian, he has the freedom to take his time on some of his projects.

Guy works at a much faster pace, with quick turn-around on stories and covering breaking news. She later showed some of the interviews she produced with Andrea Kremer and the New England Patriots. She discussed with students the creative production that went into turning boring locker rooms into a magically lit set, and how she used metal cylinders and different lighting to change the scene to add more depth to interviews.

Producing Prowess introduced students to various other job opportunities that are available besides the on-camera talent. As a producer, it is important to keep your crew ready at all times. You almost act as a parent to the camera crew, talent, audio crew, and anyone else contributing to the project. It is important for students to know that there are various jobs available, and even though they won’t be in front of camera, the process could eventually lead them to that placement if their interest still holds. Andrea Kremer insists that learning how to produce and work behind the camera will be of tremendous help for when you’re in front of the camera because it gives you a better idea as to what the crew wants; learning behind the camera jobs will allow you to be one step ahead of the game as on-camera talent.

 

Picture Credit: Susan Walker

Accepted Students Open House Day

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

The last weekend of March was quite a busy one for COM—what with the three-day long Narrative Conference going on at Boston University with so many amazing keynote speakers, journalists and storytellers from all over to sharing their experiences from the industry.

Over at the COM building on Saturday, March 28, the graduate program also had a panel of five keynote speakers, journalists and storytellers of their own at the Accepted Prospective Students Day, except the only difference was, it featured COM’s own current graduate students.

The panel of chosen students answered questions from the audience and talked about their current experiences at COM, why they chose the program, what the competition is like and how to manage the workload.

Alex Hirsch, (Sports Broadcast ’16) was one of the students whom the professors recommended be chosen to participate in the Q and A session panel. Just a year ago, Alex had been one of the many prospective students still trying to decide his future and whether or not his destiny lied with COM.

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“It felt pretty cool being on the other side of the podium for once,” Alex said. “You’re always wondering whether you’re actually succeeding or doing your best work here at COM, but knowing that the professors recommend you to be on that panel is further confirmation that you’re on the right path in life, and that you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. It’s validation that I’m working towards the right goal and I’m right here where I belong.”

He also mentioned that although the Q and A session was for him to inform interested students, it was a learning lesson for him as well.

“I didn’t do journalism before COM and I realized that while I was answering questions, I was representing all those people who are coming to school without any journalism background either. I was there to explain that just because I didn’t have undergraduate experience in it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done,” he said.

Hanae Armitage, (Science Journalism ’15) was also chosen to be on the distinguished panel of students to represent her field and help prospective students consider COM to be their future home.

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“It was definitely a great experience honestly,” she said. “I remember having a ton of questions and being in their position last year, and it was great to share my own experience with them. Especially even more so now because I can confirm that I absolutely love it here, and I made the right choice.”

For Armitage, it wasn’t tough to gush about the program and encourage students to come experience COM for themselves. “Everyone here I’ve met in the science journalism field has been super supportive of incoming journalists which I appreciate. So I felt like I really wanted to relay that attitude to the new students too,” she said.

Feel like you’re at another turning point in life with a fork stuck in the road? Time grabbing you by the wrist directing you where to go? You heard it here first. COM is definitely the path that can’t be beat!

Strategic Brand Solutions

By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

If you’re still looking to add another class to your fall schedule, CM 726 Strategic Brand Solutions, could be something to consider.  This advertising course takes a current look at marketing communications issues and the impact these issues have on brands and their audiences.

“It used to be called problem solving,” according to Professor John Verret, who has been teaching the course for the past 17 years.  “That’s what it is: looking at problems and then looking at the way brands have solved them and the way brands haven’t solved them, and thinking about what they might do.”  The problems come from a wide range of areas, whether it is a distribution problem, quality problem, or new market problem.  For the most part, the issues are usually about the way consumers react to brands and brand messaging.

These problems are examined in case studies of various brands and organizations.  Prof. Verret chooses mostly current examples, a lot coming from The Wall Street Journal (required reading for the course).  Other case studies are classic examples and still very applicable today.  One such older case study is Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign.  The book looks at Subaru and how advertising nearly killed this brand, which, according to Verret, is one of the greatest brands that has been around forever and isn’t going anytime soon.   “The objective is to learn as much about strategies that work and strategies that don’t work,” says Verret.

After 17 years of teaching this course, a lot has changed.  However, Professor Verret claims that the most important things remain essentially the same.  “Everything has changed about advertising except human nature,” says Verret.

If this course doesn’t already sound interesting, then consider the benefits.  “One of the things people tell us they like about their kids is that they’ve learned a little bit about critical thinking,” adds Verret.  “That’s what I want: critical thinkers.”  Not only do students study concrete examples of the marketing communications industry, but they also develop skills that make them more attractive to employers.

I immediately became interested in this class when I read the course description.  Now I’m registered to take it and excited to see what’s in store this fall!

Creating Video Campaigns

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

Have you ever wondered what goes into a video advertising campaign? Ever wanted to be behind-the-scenes of the creative process from idea to execution? You can do all of this in CM 518, a class called Creating Video Campaigns. This fall, Randy Hackett, a video content director, creative consultant and adjunct professor at BU,will teach students the craft of creating engaging video content. This includes everything from conceptual techniques, to the story and the use of camera and music.

“Video is such a ubiquitous presence in marketing communications,” Hackett says. “Everyone has to learn about it, not only how to utilize it from a production and practical standpoint but what makes it effective from a narrative, storytelling, and communication standpoint.” Although the class is generally geared towards advertising students, it is available to anyone interested in creative production. According to Hackett, the class would benefit any student in a communications discipline and is an “idea muscle flexing course” for people in all fields of study.

Non-profits, corporations, institutions, ad agencies, PR firms, media outlets, blogs and new business ventures have begun relying increasingly on video content.“Every website has a video now,” Hackett says. “It’s kind of the ‘show me’ generation. People don’t have as much time to read – they want to be entertained and they want their information teed up for them.”

Although the class is not technical and stops at actual film production, it includes everything up to that point: developing storyboards, recommending suppliers, working with sound design, and everything in between. Hackett treats the class like a small agency, choosing real companies that might not have a significant video presence or are in need of a video campaign for a specific scenario. Students work in teams to develop the creative components, which are presented in-house and then in a client presentation.

Hackett’s real world work makes the class more dynamic as well. This year, he directed a shoot with Tae Bo guru Billy Blanks, a national commercial his students were able to observe on-set. Watch the Brother Printers commercial with Billy Blanks here.“

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One of the advantages of the program at COM is a lot of professors have actual real life ongoing projects,” Hackett says. “It makes it feel a little bit more alive.” For graduate students interested in taking the class, the pre-requisites for Creating Video Campaigns are: CM 708 (Principles and Practices of Advertising), CM 707 (Writing for Multimedia), and CM 717 (Fundamentals of Creative Development).

Are you in advertising or another field and thinking Creating Video Campaigns might be for you? Have you taken the class? What skills did you learn?

 

Picture from: RandyHackett.com

cinematheque 1

Cinematheque: An Insight into the Industry

By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

How cool is it to speak with directors and ask them questions about their films?  Very, right? And how about if these directors came to screenings at your school?! This happens nearly every other Friday at COM’s Department of Film and Television’s Cinematheque series.

Cinematheque gives students the chance to hear from people in the television and film industries; directors, products, writers, or even actors.  The events vary in topic and type, some including screenings and others including more of a Q&A format.  With about five held each semester, students have ample opportunity to gain insight into what really goes into creating these projects.

“We try to make it a more interesting experience than just passively watching,” says Paul Schneider, chairman of the Department of Film and Television.  Schneider explains that they typically have one of the creators of the project over so that students can get an inside look at how the material was created.  That way, students can ask them questions about certain decisions the creators made and why.

The series is curated by Gerald Peary, a film critic and documentarian who goes to a tremendous number of film festivals throughout the year.  Topics come from either films that Peary has seen and thought were worth bringing back to BU, or sometimes successful alumni who are willing to come back and share their stories.

Eliza Dushku
Eliza Dushku

The most recent event, “An Evening with Eliza Dushku,” took a look at some of the actress’ roles.  Dushku is most well known for her role as Missy Pantone in Bring It On.  However, her acting career includes an extensive list of films and television shows, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dollhouse,” in addition to guest roles on “White Collar” and “Ugly Betty.”

“We don’t have that many actors come in,” adds Schneider, explaining that it is interesting to hear from actors to learn more about their career paths and points of view.  “That’s part of the fun of it.”

The goal of the Cinematheque series is to give students a “connection with what’s going on in the real world,” according to Schneider.  That is why they often bring in fairly young, independent filmmakers who haven’t been out of school for very long themselves.  An example of this includes three BU alumni who, earlier this semester, showed select episodes from their popular Web series, “Allston Xmas.”  (For a full schedule, visit this page.)

Whether it’s a documentarian following a kidnapping or the production designer from “Life of Pi,” students are sure to hear from some interesting and successful professionals who are working in the industry as they speak. “It’s an educational experience that goes beyond simply watching the show,” Schneider says.

Eliza Dushku picture credit: Boston.com

Featured image courtesy: BU COM website