September 05, 2016
Let no freshman college student fear the intimidation of a group project.
“The Bluffs,” a student-produced television series, premiered in April of 2015, and won an Emmy in long form fiction this July.
The award, granted by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences-Heartland Chapter (NATAS), was given to “The Bluffs”. NATAS recognizes television production in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Oklahoma.
The process for winning an award from the NATAS takes time. Once a work is submitted, a panel of professionals reviews it and from there, points are awarded. The points awarded lead to nominations and are sent to professionals in different chapters. Once the works are further evaluated, the selected productions are given awards.
The series is put together in a classroom setting through a series of upper-division courses. In the fall, the a production class is offered, where students cast, plan, schedule, film and edit the show. The class responsible for writing the script is offered in the spring.
Students who take the upper-division production courses are committed since they are given a lot of work to accomplish in a short period of time, according to video producer and production professor Jeff Dempsey. Dempsey has been working on the show since the start of its second season.
“We start the class with pre-production, with things like casting, and then week three of the course starts production. It is very fast-paced for a student, because there is so much material to cover,” said Dempsey.
Communication professor David Nelson is part of the original group that created “The Bluffs”. He said that he is very proud of the students who wrote and produced the first season for their achievement.
“The first season came out so well because we had such great students working on it. They were so dedicated,” said Nelson. Both Nelson and Dempsey agreed that the class is similar to producing a television series in real life. The second season’s production team had 17 students, but this season’s team will have only nine, which will mimic a real life set, according to Dempsey.
“This is the most hands-on class, and students really enjoy that.”
VAPA students also participate in the class alongside those who are studying production students. There are opportunities for VAPA students to act in the series or compose the musical score. Faculty in the physics department have also allowed usage of equipment for season two, and the library has allowed the production team to shoot different scenes in the building. With auditions kicking off pre-production, season three is in the works, and “The Bluffs” is set to premier in spring 2017.