Television and Film Arts program provides hands-on experience for students

Cydney Ramos

Being accepted into the Television and Film Arts major was a great and scary accomplishment for me.

I caught myself questioning if I was really capable of working in this industry, wondering how I could find people with the same interests to create films with and wondering what I would get experience in.

Coming to Buffalo State to be a film major was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. I truly believe that this program has so much to offer and really teaches you everything in the industry so you can learn what you really want to do.

So far I have gotten the experience to work on two major projects that every person in the Buffalo State TFA major gets to work on in their senior year.

Basically for our senior project, we all get roles on set to create and fund a pilot episode!

I’m currently in my sophomore year at Buffalo State and have fortunately got to work on the last two projects.

One thing I love about being a TFA major is how great the professors are with making us aware of projects we can work on.

My professor, Jeffrey Hirschberg, made our class aware of this project and many people volunteered to work on set.

This year, the seniors created a pilot episode that they named “Inhuman Resources.”

The logline states, “A horror comedy about an alcoholic werewolf and stoner mummy who, under orders from the government, struggle to keep the supernatural world hidden from humans.”

I spoke with some of the seniors on set to hear what they’d like to share in regards to the project and program as a whole.

“The major creates a very tight knit community of passionate, creative, and hardworking people,” Gabriel Peterson, the director, said. “Working on a set can be overwhelming at first, there are many moving pieces, a strict schedule and everyone has a job to do. However, once you get the hang of it and become more comfortable it’s very exciting working together.”

The major is so inviting in the way that we are encouraged to work and volunteer on projects that aren’t exactly ours. My role on set was props master, being self explanatory in that I handle the props on set and bring them to the actors when appropriate.

“It was amazing to get to work with my whole class on something that I think we’re all really proud of, and I was so thrilled to see the rest of the crew who weren’t seniors get to have set experience,” Zoe Crapsi, the production designer, said. “Being on the previous 450 sets was a highlight for me in my freshman and junior years.”

Working on set consisted of a lot of observing, patience and trying to be aware of what’s going on.

“It’s a joy to be working with everyone and as stressed as we can all get, calling wrap on production on that final day was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Josh Mergler, our first assistant director shared.  “If you want to get on sets just try and get connected to as many people in the field as you can. The best way to get experience is to actually be on set.”

When you watch a movie, you almost forget that there is not only someone on the other side of the camera but also many other people playing their role on set that aren’t actors. Other roles on set are a lot more complex and as a volunteer we got to choose what department we wanted to help in.

Whilst the seniors get to play the bigger roles in their project including director, executive producer and head writer, it’s amazing to watch the production happen and to realize how much work really goes into creating a film.

Not everything always works out the way you plan it out.

“Despite some major changes to the script hours before filming we still managed to create something special,” the director of photography on set, William Korb shared.

Just to give you an idea of what filming a 30-40 minute episode looks like, the seniors worked October 23-29 and approximately 56 hours.

During this week they filmed at three different locations including Buffalo Film Works, a funeral home and an Airbnb.

“Production was so much fun! It wasn’t an easy week by any means, we all wrapped absolutely exhausted,” executive producer, Ali Baumgart stated.

This project is awesome in how it puts you in a real world situation for this specific career, the seniors are given a budget to which they need to use to book locations, pay their actors and to get everything they need on set such as props and makeup.

And don’t forget about feeding every person working on the production, everyone loves crafty.

Not only does this major offer great opportunities, it ultimately teaches you how to work in a team with your class to create a real production. It also is a great opportunity for networking, considering I have gotten to meet some great individuals on set that I hope to work with again.

Things I learned while working on this project were to always be aware of who needs help, always be aware of when they are filming and to echo this and lastly to just make production as enjoyable as possible.

Marek Heitzenrater, a man of many roles on set including being the creator of “Inhuman Resources” shared some advice to people who want to work on set.

“It’s important when there to not squander time and make sure you are fulfilling your role to the best of your ability because people will notice if you are putting in good effort to help set or if you aren’t doing anything productive,” Heitzenrater said.

The pilot is currently in post production, soon making its way to the first ever public screening on December 10.

The screening for the pilot will be held at The North Park Theater in the morning and also here at Buffalo State at night.

After a long week of hard work, I know everyone is more than excited to see the pilot!