TCF class to present TV pilots at Bama Theatre

TCF class to present TV pilots at Bama Theatre

Katherine Martin

Two University of Alabama students are screening their television pilots at the Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.

As part of their TCF 451 Advanced Television Production, seniors Henry Busby and Clifton Lewis each produced a TV pilot and a series bible – a summary of each subsequent episode in the first season – for the first season of the show, Professor Adam Schwartz said.

“The course is very intensive and requires a lot of work from the students,” Schwartz said. “Producing a television pilot in a semester is not an easy task, especially with budget limitations and limited availability from the students themselves, who have other coursework on their plate as well, but the students in this class really stepped into their roles and dedicated themselves to the projects. I couldn’t be more proud of the commitment made and the efforts put forth by the students.”

Each student in the class of 25 was required to pitch a concept for a narrative television series to the rest of the class, Schwartz said. After the pitch sessions, the students voted on which concepts they’d like to produce for the rest of the semester.

Busby’s “Dirt,” a mystery drama, and Lewis’ “Cutter’s,” a comedy series, made the final cut from the concepts presented. Following selection, students applied for the crew positions they’d like to hold in their production groups, and Schwartz assigned crew positions based on applications.

The remainder of the semester was spent writing, scheduling, producing, shooting and editing the pilot, Schwartz said.

“Since the focus is television, the students have to format their show as if it were to be shown on television, with commercial breaks, etc.,” Schwartz said.

Past television pilots produced in this course have been selected to screen at the Independent Television Festival in Los Angeles as well as the New York Television Festival, Schwartz said.

Lewis said he hopes for the same for his 22-minute pilot about a boy trying to make some money over the summer mowing lawns.

“He’s not a loser, but he doesn’t have a lot going for him,” he said. “He doesn’t have a family that pays much attention to him, and he doesn’t have any friends. And there’s a girl that he’s into that suggested for him to come mow her lawn, and he does it to prove to his family that he can really do something.”

Every weekend from the end of October until the first week of December, Lewis and his crew filmed from seven to eight hours and squeezed in extra time during the week. Finding times that worked for everybody’s schedule and other logistical tasks proved to be the most difficult.

Since the show was supposed to take place during the summer, the team had to film before the grass started to turn brown, Lewis said.

“It was brutal,” he said.