Krahnke and Schwibs tell the complicated true story of the Cuban Revolution

By: Niki Fritz

Media School lecturers Steve Krahnke and Susanne Schwibs helped create a documentary Cuba: The Forgotten Revolution that is set to air in February through American Public Television. But this is really the punchline to this documentary creation story, a process that has been over five years in the making.

Students protest the Cuban Revolution.

For years, director Glenn Gebhard had been collecting stories about the Cuban Revolution. The interviews he had gathered told a narrative much more complex than the Fidel-Castro-as-revolutionary hero story many of us briefly heard in our high school world history classes. When Glenn brought the interviews and the complex story of the other heroes of the Cuban Revolution to Krahnke five years ago, Krahnke was fascinated. As a rule, he never works on any documentaries where he actually knows a lot about the topic. Given that Krahnke knew almost nothing about the Cuban Revolution, or Frank Pais and José Echeverria, two forgotten heroes of the struggle, he decided to take on the project as the executive producer.

Since Krahnke’s forte is in managing and not in weaving stories, he asked Media School colleague Susanne Schwibs to come on board as the writer and editor. With hours of raw interview footage from family members, surviving revolutionaries and scholars, Susanne now had the complex task of trying to tell the unknown story behind the Castra-centric one man myth.

“With any film the real challenge is to know what to leave out,” Schwibs explains. “You don’t want it to be an assembly of facts and figures, instead you want to connect viewers with a few major themes, e.g. what makes people do what they do, or the idea that history is complicated, that it’s not simply a matter of the big personalities everyone remembers.”

For Susanne this meant telling the stories of Frank Pais, a mild-mannered Sunday School teacher who started an urban underground guerilla movement, and José Echeverria, an architecture student who started a powerful student group in Havana. While Pais and Echeverria had the same goal as Castro – overthrowing Batista – they had different ideals and different strategies. Both Pais and Echeverria were killed during the revolution, leaving Castro to fill the void.

As Krahnke explains, “It’s not the winners but the surviving winners that write the history. Pais and Echeverria were killed before the revolution was complete so they couldn’t participate in the telling of their stories.”

The fact that both the central characters of the documentary were dead and also little known made finding visuals for the documentary difficult. Fortunately some of the surviving family members of the forgotten revolutionaries shared old photos of these men. This visual element along with the voices of the surviving family members helped bring their stories to life.

Susanne also relied on experts and scholars of the time period to give her an overarching view of the story.

“The special challenge was that in many ways one has to get it ‘right;’ it can’t just simply be how I understand it, or the director sees it, or eyewitnesses remember it,” Susanne says. “I also realized quite quickly that eyewitness testimony was good for providing personal perspective, offering a visceral sense of a historical moment.  When it came to explaining the larger picture, the political or historical ‘meaning,’ if you will, I quite deliberately limited myself to statements made by the historians and scholars.  The person who lives the moment, has a different perspective from a researcher who has looked at all the evidence available.”

The mixture of two different men’s stories along with scholars’ interpretations brings complexities to the story the documentary tells. But Krahnke notes, with the PBS audience, that is not an issue.

“It is a film about complexity so it is complex. The PBS audience is smart. This isn’t a shark week show. That’s not what we’re doing.”

The traditional image of Castro as the liberating hero.

Krahnke explained that the documentary is multilayered.  First the documentary tells the story of two men who mattered but had been forgotten. At the same time, the documentary also strives to teach people that revolutions are complicated and people should question the simple story the press tells; a fact that resonates especially now with the Arab Spring and revolutions across the Middle East.

It is a story that is also timely, as talk of the opening up of borders has just started. Hopefully this documentary, will show people Cuba is more than Castro.

“It is difficult when you are myth busting because people are tied to their myths,” Krahnke says. “We didn’t set out to make an anti-Castro film. We just wanted to say it’s more complicated; there are people that made real sacrifices that have been lost to history.”

Professors Show Off Talent in the Musical 1776

By Niki Fritz

Here in the Telecommunications Department, we know Mike McGregor and Steve Krahnke for their skills as professors and mentors. But lurking beneath those scholarly appearances, are two talented performers. Their talents were on display over the last two weeks in the Cardinal Stage’s production of the musical 1776.

For those unfamiliar with the Broadway classic, it is a musical about the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Written in the sixties during the Vietnam War, the musical also reflects on the realities of war and the decisions that lead a country to the battlefield. Steve also notes, 1776 is a rather unusual musical in that “it is not a very musical musical. There is a lot of talking … This is musical drama more than musical theater.”

The show is still popular with audiences, partially because the political themes still resonate with people today. “People like the show because it is just not cynical. It is an unvarnished view of real people trying to do a hard thing, trying to do what people considered the right thing,” Steve explains.

Mike adds that the musical offers another hopeful look at how politics can operate. “There is a lot of compromising [in the musical]. I think that is interesting to people today, to see how much people were willing to give up to get something done. Today politicians are my way or the highway; they would rather the government go into default than compromise. The play resonates with people. The audience thinks ‘If they could do it then, why can’t we now?’”

In addition to all that heavy political discourse, the show also features some foot-stomping good dance numbers. Both Mike and Steve get in their fair share of singing and dancing. In fact, faculty member Paul Wright, who saw the show last week, was impressed by the performers’ moves.  “I think the highlight for me was Steve doing a pirouette. Steve had a nimble and precise pirouette.”

But despite his nimble dance moves, Steve wasn’t always 100% confident in his abilities, especially since he has not performed on stage in more than 25 years. The only reason Steve even auditioned was because the directors asked him to try out. “I think they just needed middle age guys who could sing,” Steve jokes. “I was as stunned as anybody when I got the part. Almost everybody in the show is better at what they do than I am at what I do.”

However, Steve soon got into his character, Roger Sherman, a pro-independence delegate from Connecticut. “It was not easy learning to [perform] again,” Steve explains. “I don’t like doing things I’m not good at. It took me a while to build my confidence.”

Steve Krahnke in 1776  as Roger Sherman, the delegate from Connecticut who always carries a gigantic tea cup

Steve Krahnke in 1776 as Roger Sherman, the delegate from Connecticut who always carries a gigantic tea cup

As for Mike, he is more of a seasoned vet, having performed with Cardinal Stage six times before including last season’s production of Les Misérables. But 1776 has a special place in Mike’s heart; he played Thomas Jefferson in a production of 1776 at Spring Mills almost 25 years ago. He loved the play and the part so much, he told the director of this year’s show that he would dye his hair and commit to a face-lift if he could play Jefferson again! Although Mike didn’t get to play the young TJ, he was a phenomenal Dr. Lyman Hall of Georgia.

After weeks of prep, including 12-hour rehearsal on Saturdays and nightly practice, the troupe sang and danced their way through 10 performances ending Saturday night with a final show. Both Steve and Mike, say that it will be nice to get back to some normal routine and see their families again. Mike’s wife has even taken to calling herself a “theater widow” since Mike did back-to-back musicals this year. But despite all the rehearsal time and sometimes brutal hours, both Mike and Steve say the experience was worth it.

“Standing on stage with bunch of other people feels great,” Steve says. “For me that is better than individual bow.” However, Steve says he’s not rushing back for another production for quite a while.

Mike on the other hand might take a little break but the stage will always be calling him.

“I just love being on stage. Rehearsals are hellish and that’s okay. In theater you work really hard during rehearsal and then you have a blast during the performance. Everyone did their fair share of complaining but once you get on stage and people are applauding and laughing, it is all worth. I doubt I’ll do another one soon but I doubt I’ll ever give it up.”

Mike McGregor in 1776 at far stage right during the musical number "Cool Cool Conservative Men"

Mike McGregor in 1776 at far left during the musical number “Cool Cool Conservative Men”

Orientation Week in all its Complexities

By Niki Fritz

The orientation week is special in that it brings together bright-eyed, bushy-tailed newbies, the slightly dulled, disillusioned veteran grads, and the all-wise professors who roam our halls. You meet your cohort – people who share same kind of creative interests, the people who share the same kind of crazy. Some will become your best friends and collaborators.  Others presence may bounce into your life every now and then. For better or worse, these are your new peeps.

The orientation week starts the complex weaving of a community, a professional one at heart.

“The fact of the matter is [our department] is a work society and that goes to the orientation idea. It is a mistake to talk about it as inviting people into a family. The Brady Bunch is a myth. It is hard to take people that are different and tie them together as a family,” explains Telecom faculty Steve Krahnke. “You can choose to not be part of this department you can’t choose to not be part of a family. But we are a community; there is a responsibility you have to fellow members.”

In our case, we are blessed in that we are not a cut-and-dry professional community.  We have a fair share of fun.  Just consider Reed’s amazing intros  or the now defunct Potter goatee.

It is also a time of great learning.

“For graduate students, [orientation] is very didactic. You sit and listen. Academia is a lot about listening. And that what orientation teaches you. It models appropriate behavior.  95% of orientation is listening and active listening. And then when you open your mouth say something interesting, something useful … The operative words: help and useful. Families don’t have to be useful to each other; graduate students do. Graduate students need to learn to be useful. Nobody gets to be not useful.  Dilettantes are not useful,” explains Steve.

You start to get a feel of what it means to be part of a major research university.  Steve calls this the “learning how to be a freaking grown up” part of orientation. It is stuff like how to grade papers efficiently without being a nuance to your instructor; how to complete assignments on time; how to figure out how to solve problems; how to ask the right questions; how to make new connections with the right people.

I came from a professional background, where for five years I made deep connections to my work and social communities in Chicago. Leaving Chicago last summer I thought was one of the hardest things I would ever have to do. Starting over, making a new home, creating new bonds, all of this seemed so impossible. And yet to be honest, it was exciting. I was the one leaving. I was the one making a new home. I was the one pursuing my dreams.  Looking back, the orientation week rapidly familiarized me to the new community Steve talks about, making the transition much easier.

Even though Telecom grad students are not a Brady Bunch, they help each other survive grad school. They are the ones who pick you up when your 2001 Geo strands you with a dead battery in the Kroger parking lot. They help you with your workload when you are under the weather. They run participants in your experiments when you are late to the ICR. They do voiceovers for your video projects. They bring you coffee and pastries when you have a killer week. They help you; you help them. As anyone who has ever had a 9-5 cube job knows, your work colleagues do become this temporary sort of family, people you sometimes spend more time with than your actual blood family, people who become your support system.

The difference is your work community is not permanent like family. They will move on. Sometime next year around this time summer will come again. The people we grew to rely on will leave us. But in their place new colleagues and friends will mesh in. And that is where the beauty comes in. There will be new potential research colleagues, new project ideas, new grab-a-drink friends, new fellow nerds to geek out about BSG with, new potential.

Orientation is not just a new start for the new students but for everyone. In academia, every year is new. There is beauty in these new beginnings as challenging as it may seem.


A Slice of Chinese Life and Culture

By Mona Malacane

Last year, Steve Krahkne was approached by Living Earth Television (LETV), which seeks to share films from different countries with global audiences, for his assistance in its efforts to bring Chinese films to the United States and American films to China. (A process that sounds simple enough, but trust me, it ain’t.)  Steve helped LETV negotiate contracts with PBS World to air four hand-picked documentaries in the spring. And by hand-picked, I mean going to the source for authentic Chinese films.

Steve K visit3In November Steve and others working on the project traveled to Chengdu, a city in southwest China, for the Sichuan International Film Festival in search of documentaries that would appeal to an American audience. They viewed some fascinating films at the festival, like one about female sterilization in rural areas under the one child policy. “There are government quotas for women to either be sterilized or to abort children … And I don’t know how this film maker did it but he is everywhere. You’re in this woman’s bedroom where these government officials are trying to convince her to go in and get sterilized.” Another was a “beautiful, bittersweet documentary” about a family which hand makes paper umbrellas. At the end of the film, the son proposes that he start designing the umbrellas on his computer and, as Steve describes, “that’s where the poignancy comes in. Because right then you know, this is a dying industry as soon as you brought out that computer. If we can design them this way then we can make them this way. End of that.”

But ultimately they decided on four films. The first one is from a food show titled Bite of China, which showcases staple foods like rice and wheat. Steve described it as “food porn,” and less like a “process film like we would watch on the Discovery Channel … It’s about the food and the interaction with the food, so it’s very tactile and beautiful.” Another documentary is about the one-child policy (One Child). The other two documentaries, Horseman and Kindergarten, document a love story between two owners of a horse touring company, and a “slice of life” view of a Chinese kindergarten. Sorry, no reality TV shows.

A lot of work needs to be done before the films are ready for a broadcast in the US, explained Steve. They need to determine the quality of the film, verify ownership and rights to the film, see whether it can be adapted to an American broadcast platform, edit it to the right length, add subtitles, change the narration … The list goes on!

The whole process is, in Steve’s words, “expensive, time-consuming and difficult.” But absolutely worth it. While some of the work needs to be done on the east coast at PBS World, much has already been done here at our facilities. For example, Senia Borden (MS student in Telecommunications) and Xiaozhuo Lv (MA student in Journalism) have been working long and hard at sub-titling the films. Moving forward, Senia will also be “managing the process of formatting these films for PBS World,” essentially acting as a coordinating producer.

The other part of this project involves workshops to teach Chinese film makers how to produce shows for American audiences, which would make the process of bringing films here much easier. Our tastes for entertainment are obviously very different from those of the Chinese, Steve explained. “Americans like stories. Some of these Chinese films … are much more experiential. Almost like you’re wandering around a museum, just kind of randomly looking at things. Which can be extremely beautiful but it’s not really what Americans are looking for on television. We need to know who the characters are, what the conflicts are, we need to know what’s at stake.” So the workshops would teach film makers how to edit, narrate, and package films for American audiences so that less work would have to be done here to get the films on TV.Steve K visit2

Steve’s long term goals for the project are two-fold: to bring over a series of films each year, and to turn this into a long term opportunity for graduate students. He hopes this project will be a “long and fruitful opportunity for our grad students to work with Chinese film makers, visit China, and to welcome Chinese filmmakers to IU.” Anyone who is interested in getting involved with this project should contact Steve. (Both Senia and Xiaozhuo are graduating this year, so he needs help!) You do not necessarily need to skilled at production techniques, or be an MS student. With the new Media School integration on the horizon, Steve stressed that this opportunity is available to all MA, MS, and PhD students.

The Ordinary Extraordinary Junco

by Teresa Lynch

Before he and his family move to Baton Rouge this January, MS student Steve Burns’ documentary project The Ordinary Extraordinary Junco will be shown in its entirety at the IU Cinema. The screening will begin at 6:30pm on December 11th and will be followed by a reception at the Wonderlab Children’s Museum. There is no charge for entry; however, you do need a ticket. Tickets are available at the cinema box office.

The project features the Junco, a common songbird in North American. What makes the Junco special, however, is that it evolves rapidly to adapt to a locale.  We thereby have a bird with great evolutionary variations across locales.

The project was three years in the making and took Steve to remarkable locations such as Mountain Lake in Virginia, the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Grand Tetons, and the Guatemalan Highlands to shoot 170 hours of video. Shooting also required some grueling treks such as a seven-hour climb up a dry mountain on Baja and twenty-four hours of travel with the Mexican Navy to make it to Guadalupe Island.

The project kept Steve busy in various capacities such as co-writer, cinematographer, and editor, in addition to handling the entirety of the field shooting. Furthermore, he wrote and directed a re-enactment segment of the project featuring Telecom’s own Steve Krahnke portraying the 1920’s ornithologist William Rowan. IU alum Joseph Toth handled the lighting and camera work for the historical segment.

The project grew out of Steve’s work with Dr. Ellen Ketterson, Distinguished Professor of Biology and Gender Studies,  and Dr. Jonathan Atwell, Postdoc in The Ketterson Lab of the IU Department of Biology.  The Ketterson lab has been studying Juncos for nearly 40 years with this most recent project being supported by the National Science Foundation.

Ultimately Steve says that “the project will be broken up into segments for viewing on the Internet.” The plan is to re-launch the website with video clips from Steve’s documentary at the same time as the premiere. Essentially, Steve says “the videos are intended for bird lovers and high school or college level classrooms.”

“We’re encouraging people to come see it,” says Steve, obviously excited to see the results of the massive team effort the project required.

For more information on the project, visit Steve’s website or the project website.

On set for Ondine

by Teresa Lynch

As graduate students, sometimes we feel a teensy bit overwhelmed by the amount of work we take on each semester. Certainly professors do as well. Within this general context,  it is refreshing to find students and faculty spending many of their precious spare hours volunteering. And that’s just what Professor Steve Krahnke, MS student Garrett Poortinga, and PhD student Stephanie Brehe have been doing of late.

Steve discussing tech with members of the crew of Ondine

Specifically, the trio has been working with the theatre program at Bloomington High School North, one of the two local high schools here in Bloomington. As with arts programs in many public schools, BHSN’s theatre program is underfunded. But, rather than fade away, many years ago theatre teacher Francesca Sobrer saw it as an opportunity to get creative. After an introduction by a mutual friend, Francesca welcomed Steve on to help with the program as a volunteer because as he says, he “had been a set-designer longer than [he] had been anything else.”

The ensuing collaboration has provided the high school and the larger theatre-going community of Bloomington a rich and diverse program that Steve says “has become famous for doing really, really big productions with really complicated scenery and having a lot of people involved. It’s a lot of fun.” The three just wrapped up their work on Ondine, an early 20th century play by Jean Giraudoux that tells the enchanting tale of the knight-errant Hans who meets and falls in love with Ondine, a water sprite.

Steve has been working with the program for thirteen years and from time to time has invited graduate students to assist with the technical demands of the program. “One of the things that I really like about this and I think it a real advantage for graduate students like Stephanie and Garrett is to get to know, even on a limited basis, the kids before they even become undergrads. It gives you a better sense of the trajectory and the learning slope. And you realize how smart some of these kids are even in high school. Because when they get to college, they have so many pressures and so many directions, it’s easy to start thinking of them as not being particularly smart, but it’s because they’re distracted by all these new things. But, the core is really smart and totally engageable. I mean, these kids can really focus and that’s what’s so rewarding about it.”

Part of the set design for Ondine

Garrett and Stephanie joined the tech crew effort this semester working on set alongside and lending their expertise to the high schools students. Specifically, Garrett has been working on sound design. His job has been primarily to oversee and guide the technical efforts of one of the high school students who will run the sound during the live show. Garrett’s prior experience has not been primarily with live theatre, per say, but he has extensive experience in live performance set-up with the audio-visual performance group, Savage Henry. Other work he has done within the Telecom department has also given him helpful experience that he puts to good use when assisting the BHSN theatre program. Specifically he says that “being here teaching or being a student in the studio, you’re sitting at a sound board, you’re playing sound effects back as things are happening live in the studio, which I had done plenty of times before. We had live studio audiences for those. It’s pretty much the same thing except it’s a television studio instead of a theatre.” In particular, he says he has also found that “there’s a deficit of sound designers and operators in Bloomington, Indiana. And that I really like doing it.”

Stephanie has used her years of theatre know-how to assist the program with light design, a job that not only requires a significant amount of physicality, but an enormous amount of time on set. Francesca noted that she “really appreciate[s] people coming in and teaching the kids and lending their expertise. Stephanie’s expertise is very extensive and she’s already repaired some things which is a huge help to us … the amount of time she has dedicated is really incredible.”

A cleverly designed tree made from fabric that has been used in many plays including Ondine

Doing these sorts of things makes for what Steve says is, “a really interesting way and a valuable way to connect the academic life to the social life in ways that are unpredictable …  it just makes you seem like a whole person. It’s difficult for graduate students to widen out their lives … but I think it’s important to try to do it. It’s also important to have people who are suggesting that you need to be a person.”

Theatre as an art is cosmopolitan, making it somewhat akin to our field. As Steve sees it “that’s kind of the nice thing about theatre is that it has an organic quality to it so that you can take whatever skills you have and to a certain extent translate them into completely different areas, whether it’s teaching or organizing events or even organizing yourself. There are things that apply …  and why it’s so important to support these kinds of programs.”

Steve Krahnke’s New M.S. Initiative

by Ken Rosenberg

Grad students work closely with the production team of WTIU, from left to right: Shannon Schenck, Annie Sexton, Senia Borden
(Producer Sarah Curtiss in background) 

The design and production track of our M.S. program is growing and transforming, as four M.S. students spend their first semester serving as associate producers on projects for WTIU, the local PBS affiliate that broadcasts from studios on the first floor of our RTV building. Working for course credit, they are assisting with the production of two variety shows: The Weekly Special, a public/current affairs program, and The Friday Zone, an Emmy award-winning show for children hosted by IU undergrads. It’s a valuable experience for M.S. students looking to transition into studio production after grad school, as it enables them to build a healthy portfolio. Steve Krahnke’s  joint appointment with WTIU and the Telecom department enabled him to transform a good thought into reality.  The immediate beneficiaries of Steve’s initiative are 4 M.S. students:  Annie Sexton, Garrett Poortinga, Senia Borden, and Shannon Schenck. There will be many more in the future.

“We’ve got this public television station which is already connected to Telecom,” Steve explained. “Why not find opportunities for them to work as producers on existing programs, where they could learn from the professionals that are doing the work, while doing professional work themselves?” Producer Sarah Curtiss is equally excited about the collaboration. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring in fresh vision and enthusiasm,” she said. “We are never at a lack for great stories, or wanting to do great stories – it usually just comes down to a matter of resources, like production time and assistance. To have the grad students on board, we’re able to put more effort toward making those stories. It does nothing but help increase the potential and quality of the work we do here.” Steve sees parallels to this sort of setup in many other professional schools. “To that extent,” he said, “it’s a bit like a graduate theatre program that has a resident professional theater, where designers and actors are working with professionals.”

Steve Krahnke

This initiative arises out of a happy confluence of mutual need and convenience.  “We just made this – I just made this up,” Steve said. Senia had been his student as an undergrad, so he wanted to maximize her educational experience in grad school. Annie and Shannon were pitching projects to him, and he was getting concerned whether they would be able to finish their degrees in a timely manner, on their own. Then, after talking with the WTIU personnel working on The Weekly Special and The Friday Zone, he found that “they were so short-staffed, they were unable to produce the shows they wanted to produce.” Coming together, unifying the teaching and practice of production, just made sense. “It seemed like a reasonable trade,” Steve said. “Education for labor is always a pretty good offer.”

It’s not simply an opportunity for work experience. As such, it’s very much a learning opportunity, too. “You always want to be working just beyond your skill level, at least at first,” Steve said. “Graduate school provides a relatively safe place for people to do that. You’re expected to fail a little bit, and the stakes aren’t quite as high – and then, eventually, you’re required to display some expertise.”

Right now, Annie, Garrett, Senia, and Shannon are working hard to get their first segments to air. Annie shot a segment at a dog bakery in Indianapolis for The Friday Zone, and took her dog with her. She went with a crew, but she will most likely edit the video herself. “It’s not that you don’t do more than one thing,” Steve explained, “but, in the business, no one expects you to do everything.” Garrett has his own niche, covering bands and local music.

Senia is working on her package, a piece on a local dirt bike competition, and she loves how quickly she got the chance to do this level of work. “It’s a way to come in and already have a base level of trust,” Senia said about the program. Senia has done production work in internships before, but she feels that if she went straight into the industry without the current project work with Steve it would take her a while to get to the level she is currently operating on. “It would take a lot more time to get this if I started as a personal assistant,” she said. “It’s technically a class, but I get to go to studio shows and play a part – that’s more than what I’d get my first years in the field. Eventually, I’ll be making contacts, too.”

Recently, Shannon had her first solo experience as the on-set producer. “I felt like people were super helpful,” Shannon said. “The cameraman I was working with was really experienced, professional, and cool. He was open to my suggestions, but didn’t hesitate to let me know if and when something wouldn’t work. He was comfortable making suggestions, and did so without stepping on my toes. Everyone I’ve worked with so far has been like that. They know that we know what we’re doing, mostly, but that it’s still a learning opportunity – and everyone’s been really open.”

The Weekly Special is going through a “refresh,” so all four students get to experience “essentially, the re-launching of a show,” Sarah said.

Garret and Senia will get to pioneer this pilot program along with Annie and Shannon, but they will also receive that experience for the entire tenure of their course of study. “That’s when it’s really going to take off,” Steve said. After their first year, “the two of them will know everybody; they should be able to take on positions of substantial responsibility.” Steve sees second-year grads teaching new initiates, and even undergrads working as production assistants. “It’s not really that much different than how the business works, actually,” Steve said.

Steve is hoping for a codified relationship between studio and production/management students, so that students come here knowing they can have this opportunity.  “We didn’t have to change anything. The course numbers already existed; the situation already existed – all we did was just figure out how we could make it work.” So, while there are still a couple of hurdles before it’s entrenched and solidified, any incoming student can already sign up for the same experience. Eventually, the plan is to integrate production- and research-focused graduate students into one cohesive work force. Steve wants to bring scholars interested in processes-and effects research – particularly those interested in “children and the media”-type research questions – downstairs, onto the set and into the studio, “so that way, together, they could make something to test, “ Steve said.

“There aren’t many graduate programs in the country that are capable of doing what we’ll be doing,” Steve said. It’s amazing to think that, very soon, Steve can tell the incoming production students, “you can work with professionals – you can work here and win an Emmy, or an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.”

“For somebody who is trying to use their M.S. degree as a way to position themselves for future work, it’s a great opportunity,” Steve said. Concerning applications involving portfolios with video, “the rule of thumb is that they’ll only look at three minutes,” Steve said. “So, if you make a 90-minute feature film, they’re only going to look at three minutes.” But, if you make several three-minute clips, “they might watch all of each – particularly if they’re interesting, if they’re different from one another, they’ll get a sense of different styles. Producing for children’s television is a very different than producing for adults.”

“PBS is all about education, and it’s cool to take that mission to the next level in a new and unique twist. I think it provides an invaluable experience you just can’t get in a classroom,” Sarah said. “There are lots of things that you experience in even just the day-to-day production routine” – including the routine itself – “that you’re just not going to know how to address until you’re in the midst of it. To have that real-world experience … is incredible; simply put, it’s just something that you can’t read in a book.”

The Friday Zone airs Fridays at 4:30pm on WTIU and WFYI, and Saturdays at 10:00am on WTIU. The Weekly Special airs Thursdays at 8:00pm on WTIU.