Forget Leno vs. Letterman, Conan or Jimmy. At IWU last spring it was all about Erin and the All-Nighter.
Students in the advanced Studio Production class chose late night talk for their project and put a real show on the air at the end of the semester. The class comes around every other year and has only one assignment – create an original program that can be produced in the WIWU-TV studios. They start at zero, and have to develop the concept, script, talent, set, segments, audience and finished show all the way through final editing.
Justin Lehman, Executive Producer and Senior (Haubstadt, IN) said the production was somewhat overwhelming at first because students received very little instruction on how to do many of the tasks. “I quickly realized the talents everyone had, and was reminded of the ‘body of God’. It took everyone to make this happen, and it seemed as if overnight we transformed from college students into professional producers,” he said.
Class teams spent most of the semester out of the studio, doing all the pre-production tasks. The writer-producer team developed scripts and comedy segments for three shows. The production team helped shoot and edit the pre-produced segments and elements such as graphics, sound effects and technical setup. The design team created the set plan, props and lighting and then supervised all the physical elements to transform an empty space into the show’s home.
Marisa Hinderaker, Freshman, (Astoria, SD) said team interactions in the “writer’s room” were among the semester’s highlights. “We had a great creative dynamic,” she said. “Although not every idea made it to the final shows, we learned how to adapt and keep trying new ideas.”
By April, all 18 class members plus co-hosts, guests, band and other volunteers were ready to bring the production to life. They took over WIWU-TV’s main studio for a week, building the set and creating space for a live studio audience. The team shot three programs over four nights, each produced in real-time with two tapings and minimally edited for later broadcast.
Kristen Stipkovich, Junior (Wadsworth, OH) found the energy and pressure of the live experience quite stretching. “I have taken away many valuable things from working on the production such as learning how to keep my patience in situations when it seems nearly impossible,” she said. “Also…It was awesome to see how we were changing the script to make it funnier shortly before the live production.”
That pressure to be funny also fell on the hosts, Erin Alberding (South Bend, IN) and Eric Stoff (Journalism, ’13). As the show’s “talent”, they were not class members, but learned to work in the structure created for them. “They put up with all my crazy antics on and off screen and allowed me to be the host I knew I was capable of being,” Alberding said. “Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.”
From script to screen, it’s an experience that teaches much more than nuts and bolts of television production. “TV shows are actually like that old Thomas Edison quote – about 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” said Dr. Randall E. King, instructor. “In this class they learn more about how to work together as a creative team than new technical skills. I think they now know that you have to work really hard to make it look to the viewers like you’re not working hard, ” he said.
Watch the All-Nighter (2 parts):