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TFA Seniors to Screen Original TV Pilot

TFA Seniors to Screen Original TV Pilot

Posted: December 8, 2015

On Thursday, December 10, the Buffalo State community has the chance to see the premiere screening of Cappuccino Jones, a TV pilot created by the 16-member senior class of the television and film arts (TFA) program. The free half-hour premiere begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union Social Hall and is open to the public.

Students enrolled in associate professor of communication Lou Rera’s TFA 450 course spent the semester writing, casting, and producing the TV pilot about a ‘70s-era detective, his hotshot new partner, and their effort to nab a local drug dealer. Filming took place in Buffalo, Cheektowaga, and East Aurora, and wrapped up in mid-November.

"For many years, TFA 450, the major’s capstone class, was set up for students to produce a live Saturday Night Live-type show,” said TFA director Jeffrey Hirschberg. "Last year I decided that it would be a more relevant professional experience for the class to write, produce, and direct an original half-hour TV pilot."

"Students applied for specific jobs that mirrored the real TV marketplace—executive producer, director, director of photography, and head writer,” said Rera. “Based on their prior program and personal experience and their application, they were chosen for their jobs for the duration of the project."

According to co-producer Lauren Heaney, this marks the first TFA project to be approved by the national Screen Actors Guild (SAG). 

"We wanted the film to be as professional as possible so we cast the main actors who had more experience and accreditation," said Heaney. "We put a casting call out and got a huge response and just got lucky with SAG actors."

Mu-shaka Benson stars as Cappuccino Jones. Other actors include Arlynn Knauff, Mike Sciabarrasi, Alexander Sloan McBryde, Jason John Beebe, and Siluo Gompah.

"While the final product is important, of equal importance is the process," said Hirschberg. "How does a group of 16 students produce a half-hour show? They need to raise money, cast actors, secure locations, shoot the show, edit, and market the premiere. Learning to collaborate throughout the process is key."

After the semester ends, Heaney said they are going to reach out to production companies and networks about possibly getting the pilot aired.

"The writing team is already working on what the rest of the series would be like," she said.

Additionally, Hirschberg noted that TFA program will help its students navigate the film festival circuit, as many now accept TV pilots as submissions.

"Overall, it’s a tremendous professional experience for the students," said Hirschberg, "and one they can talk about interviews for internships and jobs."

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